When the Chicken Comes Home to Roast
Roasting a whole chicken (or two) is a fabulous way to make a meal that lasts all week. We’ll have the plain old chicken itself with crispy roasted potatoes the first night, and then there will be meat leftover for at least two more meals in the week, plus stock. What’s not to love about that?
Who gets to actually cook the chicken on the other hand is a whole different matter.
The right to roast the birds in our family has often been the source of controversy. My aunts have fought long and hard over who’s roast chicken is best, but the truth must finally be known.
Here’s my confession: the best roasted chicken in my house has been made, not by me (who follows the aunts’ recipes), but by my husband. In the days when he worked in an office, he made the Thanksgiving habit of roasting turkeys every year, and apparently, over the years he learned a thing or two. His roast chicken is DELICIOUS. It’s usually much moister than mine (even though he had an off night the other night and it cooked too long, his record is still pretty good), and the flavor is the perfect balance of lemon and piny rosemary. So, when he put together his perfect creation over the weekend, he agreed to dictate the instructions to me so I could share them with you. Let me reiterate that I quote verbatim. These are not my words, I tell you, but his. Got that? THESE ARE NOT MY WORDS. Okay. Here are his instructions:
- Get a beer.
- Turn the stereo (or ipod if your wife is studying) to Radiohead, preferably their mid-period work.
- Turn the oven to 350 degrees.
- Rinse the bird, in and out. Pull out the guts. Pat dry (the bird, not the guts).
- Oil the chicken. Rub him down good on both sides.
- Lightly salt.
- Slice a lemon thinly–shove the slices under the skin. Place one whole lemon inside the cavity, plus 3 or 4 whole cloves of garlic.
- Take your time decorating because the pretty bird is the happy bird.
- Mince 4 or 5 more garlic cloves and scatter them on the bird.
- Mince 4 sprigs of rosemary; scatter it too.
- Coat the bird with lemon pepper.
- Chop up about a half stick of butter, and toss it into the pan.
- Cover the baking dish and stick it in the oven.
- Baste every 30 minutes.
- Get a meat thermometer. Shove it in everywhere. It should read 170 degrees. 180 is too done.
Alright, people, there you have it. It’s the best roast chicken I’ve ever had. But you’ll have to take your chances.