1 (4 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lbunch of chopped fresh herbs
1 small yellow onion, quartered
1 lemon, halved
1 head of garlic, cut in half
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 yellow onion, thickly sliced
1 head of celery or bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into pieces
Preheat the oven to 425 degree F.
Remove the chicken giblets and neck from the inside of the chicken. Rinse the chicken inside and outside. Dry outside skin completely.
Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken very liberally. Stuff the cavity of the bird with the fresh herbs, quartered onions, lemon halves and garlic head. Tie the legs of the bird together with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the bird. Melt the butter and brush the outside of the chicken with all of the melted butter, this is what will crisp up the skin and create the golden brown color. Sprinkle the skin with any left-over chopped herbs, and a little salt and pepper.
Take your roasting pan and place the chopped carrots, onion and celery or fennel in the bottom of the roasting pan in a single layer. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and any left over fresh herbs. Place your stuffed chicken on top of the vegetables, breast side up.
Roast the chicken in the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until juices run clear when you make a cut between the leg and thigh. Take chicken out of the oven and place a sheet of tin foil covering the bird for about 20 minutes to rest and redistribute the juices. (Prevents dry chicken syndrome.)
Slice the chicken and serve with the vegetables.
Next Day Homemade Chicken Soup:
Pick the carcass clean of meat and store in the fridge for later use. Boil the carcass in water, perhaps with a little wine or sherry added for flavor and fresh herbs, finely chopped garlic, onion, carrots and celery to make home made chicken broth to keep on hand or to make Chicken and Rice or Chicken Noodle soup from scratch. Once broth has come to a boil, skim off any foamy impurities that rise to the top with a spoon and toss. Once it has all simmered together for about 30 minutes to 1 hour it is done, remove and toss carcass. Strain chicken broth through cheesecloth or kitchen strainer to get the big chunks of vegetables and little herb specks out of the broth.
Take strained broth and place it back into a pot with all of the vegetables you used to make the soup stock cut up into little bite-sized pieces, add the chopped chicken left over from dinner, and your choice of herbs and if you like rice or noodles. Simmer until the rice or noodles have cooked and all items are well heated. Remove from heat and serve sprinkled with a little Parmesan cheese on top.
NOTES: With so much talk about the new cookbook that was on everyone's Christmas list this year - Roast Chicken and other Stories by Simon Hopkinson which I did not get, but keep eyeballing at the book store every time I go in there . . .and with the snap of cold winter weather, it seemed like a good time to give my recipe for the perfect roast chicken.
The key to a great roast chicken is to stuff the bird with aromatic veggies for flavor and scent, brush generous amounts of butter over the skin to crisp it up and give it the luscious golden brown color and then make your roast veggies as a side dish in the same pan so that they can benefit from the chicken fat and juices that will run over the top of them while the bird is roasting above. As an added bonus, you can use the left over meat and carcass to make homemade Chicken Noodle or Rice Soup the next day for lunch. (Usually, if I still have any chicken meat left over after Roast Chicken for dinner and Chicken Soup for lunch . . .I'll make Chicken and Biscuits for dinner. Three meals from one bird . . .awesome.)
I was terrified the first time I tried to make a Roast Chicken for dinner, but it was so easy, there is really nothing to screw up. If you can do this, you can also cook, in the same way, your own Thanksgiving Turkey. It opens doors to roasting many kinds of birds from the biggest to the smallest. (People will be so impressed with roasted chicken and veggies for dinner, you would be amazed.)
It makes the house smell great and sometimes, most times, it is the simple things that taste the best . . .like Roast Chicken with Veggies and Chicken and Rice soup. Stay warm!