May 18, 2010

Exceptional Roasted Chicken and Veggies

Here is a wholesome, delicious, easy-to-prepare meal suitable for any time of year. It's equally appropriate when you have company or just the family sitting at the dinner table. It can be dressed up or down and uses seasonal produce. It's not really the ingredients, though, that make it special. It's the technique.

What You Need:
1 whole chicken*
Olive oil
Garlic cloves
Herbs of your choice (thyme, pepper, and oregano are easy choices)
Seasonal vegetables of your choice (we especially like red potatoes, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, carrots, and parsnips)
Beef or chicken broth or stock

Roasting pan
Small mixing bowl
Baster or table spoon

How to Do It:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Pour about half a cup of olive oil into the small mixing bowl. Mince garlic cloves and add them to the oil; I use between 4 and 10. Remember that roasted garlic has a mild flavor. Add other spices, according to your taste. Stir together. The mixture should be moist, but mostly solid. Add more olive oil, if necessary for the right consistency, and set aside.

3. Remove the gizzards of the chicken and rinse the bird in cool water. Pat dry and place in the roasting pan.

4. Beginning at the neck of the bird, insert your finger between the meat and the skin. Keep working your fingers around the bird, separating the skin from the meat. In areas where you can't lift the skin (like the legs), make 1/2 inch incisions in the skin using a knife.

5. Rub the olive oil mixture all over the bird between the skin and the meat. If you have extra, rub it on the outside of the bird's skin.

6. Clean the vegetables and cut them into pieces. I usually cut red potatoes into about 3 pieces, and cut asparagus, carrots, and parsnips into inch long pieces. Brussel sprouts must be cut in half. Place in the roasting pan in a single layer around the chicken.

7. Pour about a half cup of broth or stock over the bird and vegetables. I prefer to use beef broth, because I like the hearty flavor.

8. Place the roasting pan in the oven. Using the baster or a table spoon, every half hour to hour remove juices from the bottom of the pan and pour them over the bird and vegetables.

9. Roast for about 1 hour, 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees.

Be sure to save the bird's carcass to make your own chicken stock the next day.

Feel free to experiment with the spice rub, using different spices, or using white wine or vinegars (like apple cider vinegar) as your base.

* Many chickens are injected with salt water to make them more tender and plump. Unfortunately, they don't taste that great and have huge amounts of unhealthy sodium. When purchasing chicken, check the label carefully for sodium content. If it is high, don't buy.

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