For months now, I have been wanting to roast a chicken. Roasting is my favorite cooking method, next to stir frying and sauteing. I've long declared stir frying/sauteing as my unmatchable favorite. I relish the juggling act stir frying requires, and the positive stress it induces. So why roasting? It seems quite the departure from stir frying. And it is. But the answer, to me, is simple: the flavor payoff. I will eat many things roasted that I won't eat plain, such as peppers, onions, zucchini. Since chicken is my favorite protein in meat form, I decided I needed to do this. (plus you can do it with a hangover without spontaneously combusting.)
After A LOT of thinking and researching, I decided to start simple. I picked up a Gold 'n' Plump 3.5 pound chicken, gizzards and neck removed. I found the selection process confusing. Recipes for roast chickens call for.....a roasting chicken. These chickens are labeled frying chickens. My guess is because all the innards are already removed. Since I was under my own instruction, and it was my first time, I decided I probably shouldn't try to teach myself how to remove them. So, the Gold 'n' Plump fryer it was.
My mom gave me some Rosemary awhile ago that I still had stored away. Thanks Ma!
I decided to make a fairly standard butter mixture of lemon, garlic and rosemary, to rub all over the chicken and under the skin. My goal was to use lots of bright lemon zest. Since I regrettably don't have a zester, I tried using the small holes on my massive cheese grater. It doesn't work that well, but I managed to get maybe 1/2 a teaspoon of zest.
I squeezed the juice of 2 lemons into 3/4 cup of softened butter, and added the rosemary, 2 cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. I wanted to add more spices (parsley, paprika, cayenne, coriander..!) but I didn't. Something about a cart and a horse.
I smeared a bunch of butter all over and under the chicken skin. Raw skin is actually pretty tough and flexible, so don't be afraid to be assertive (read: not aggressive.) I shoved the 4 lemon halves into the cavity, which I will admit grossed me out. I must have washed my hands about 40 times during the preparation of this thing.
I ended up only using about half of my butter mixture. Since I touched the butter mixture with my raw chicken-ey hands, I tragically had to toss the leftover butter. DON'T DO THIS. DON'T BE LIKE ME. You can save that lemony rosemary garlicy butter for a number of deeply satisfying things
I know a lot of people like to truss, but I personally don't see the point. Sure I could try it some other time, but I felt no inclination towards doing so. So..I didn't! Instead, I put the whole thing into a 400 degree oven for one hour, and then I do not touch it or move it or do anything to it at all. After one hour, I turned the temp up to 425 for another 20 minutes. I can imagine doing this for a 3.5 pound chicken might cause some to gasp and guffaw. And then let me explain that I do not own a meat thermometer, and run away while jaws drop at such a travesty. And then, lookit.
It came out pretty much perfectly cooked.
I have no clue how to carve a chicken, so this is what I ended up with.
Assessment: Lots of lovely extract at the bottom for the potatoes and carrots. The chicken was succulent and moist throughout. The only regrets I had were not using MORE potato and carrot for bedding, and not going heavier on the spices. At the center was a clean, bright lemon flavor, though I could have used one more lemon. The rosemary was light, a faraway thought, and the garlic wasn't prominent. Nonetheless, the flavor was lovely, and I consider this first chicken roast of mine to be quite a success.