rosemary and garlic roast chicken

31Jan08

I was going to make Jamie Oliver’s roast chicken. I really was. It looks really, really good, and I’m dying to try it. And we all know how much Don loves his potatoes. But it was Tuesday. And I’ve got a million proposals due at work, and lots of stuff going on with family, and I got home and it was already depressingly dark. And something that involves peeling a large number of potatoes? So not happening. Let alone something that requires multiple steps, even steps so simple as ‘boiling potatoes’ and ‘stabbing lemons’. Sorry, Jamie. But I did have a roaster in the fridge, staring at me in silent admonition that it was about time I cooked it, seeing as how it’d been there for more days than I should probably admit in a public forum. It was now or never.

So I needed to roast a chicken. I’m always looking for new ways to roast chickens; Don’s not really a huge fan of the meal, although apparently most of his dislike of it is related to all that work you have to do to get it off the bone (yes, I do live with the laziest person on earth, why do you ask?). So I have to make it interesting, and I’m always hunting for the recipe that’ll be so good it’ll overcome his hatred of chicken bones. Whenever I see a recipe for roast chicken that looks good, I mentally mark it. I went back through my mental recipe file, pondering what I’d seen recently, and remembered this recipe from a recent Bon Appetit I’d picked up to read while I waited for Don to get out of the spa (yes, we’re total yuppies; no, he wasn’t getting a pedicure, it was a deep-tissue massage for some muscle pain he had).

So I hunted the recipe down and was horrified to find that it required practically more effort than poor Jamie’s recipe. Mortar and pestle! On a Tuesday night? No way! And, crazily enough, juniper berries aren’t on my weekly shopping list. But I wasn’t going back to the damn potato peeler, I can tell you that. So I improvised. It didn’t make Don start loving roast chicken like I do, but he ate it relatively cheerfully. It might go into the roster.

Rosemary and Garlic Roast Chicken

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary*
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 5-7 pound whole chicken, butterflied**

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, and olive oil with salt and pepper in a small bowl until it forms a clumpy sort of paste. Trim excess fat from chicken, and run your fingers under the skin all over to separate it from the flesh. Rub the rosemary and garlic mixture under the skin, all over the chicken as far as you can get to without tearing the skin. Rub the outside of the chicken’s skin with some extra olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until chicken is done (poultry is cooked at 180 degrees on a meat thermometer, but you can also stab it to see if the juices run clear). Allow chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before you carve.

*I have a rosemary plant in a pot on the counter, as I’ve mentioned here before, so in the winter it’s often my most widely-used fresh herb. I don’t think I would use dried in its place here; I’m not really fond of dried rosemary in anything but long-stewing applications.

**Butterflying a chicken is actually really easy as long as you have a pair of sharp scissors. You just cut down either side of the backbone and remove it, then flip the chicken over and press down to flatten it out. I like to use a very sharp knife to remove the remaining ribcage bones (you usually have to cut through them when you’re cutting out the backbone) because otherwise I will inevitably stab myself on their sharp edges later. Here’s a photo of my rather undignified splayed-out chicken, just out of the oven, if you want make sure you’ve flipped everything round right.

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