This isn’t what I normally post up here, but I just wrote this up for a friend and figured I might as well share it with the world. I’ve been tweaking this recipe for at least twenty birds, and it has worked well.
Serves six. Prep time: two hours, semi-attended.
- 1 Chicken, about four pounds. This is right on the edge of the fryer/roaster divide; a large fryer or a small roaster will do great. Air-chilled is desirable.
- 1 Medium carrot,
- 1 Celery stalk
- 1 Shallot
- 1 Lemon
- 6-10 sage leaves
- 2-4 sprigs rosemary
- 1/2 stick butter
- Salt and pepper
- Take out your chicken maybe half an hour before you plan to cook it. Unwrap it, remove giblets (if any), and rinse it inside and out in the sink, to wash off any dried blood — yuck!. It helps to get a plate or cutting board and some paper towels ready before rinsing, so that you’re prepared to…
- …dry the bird off, inside and out, with paper towels, and leave it to dry for a few minutes. It needs to be thoroughly dry and nearing room temp before you roast it. A drying rack over a cutting board is useful for this part.
- Now would be a great time to preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While the bird dries, finely dice the carrot, shallot and celery stalk, combining in a bowl to form what is known as a mirepoix.
- Chiffonade — or just finely chop, whatever — one or two of the sage leaves, and chop one sprig’s worth of rosemary leaves. Add these to the mirepoix.
- Wash the lemon with either fruit/veggie wash or a touch of dish detergent to remove any of the waxy bullshit the distributors spray on citrus. Rinse thoroughly and dry. Cut two or three broad longitudinal twists, pole to pole, from the lemon. I use a paring knife. Dice one of these twists into quarter-inch squares and add them to your mirepoix, which is, by now, so much more.
- In a few minutes, you’ll need melted butter. I use a saucepan over low heat, so that takes lead time. Other people have microwaves. You could probably use a bowl and the pre-heated oven.
- Return to your bird. Place it breast up, legs towards you. Ease the blade of your paring knife between the skin and the meat of the breast, and tuck a sage leaf and a slice of lemon twist under the skin. Repeat for both sides of the breast, and depending on how much sage you have, for the neck end of the breast, also.
- Turn the bird so that the legs are away from you. On each side, cut a small slit with your paring knife in the baggy skin between the thigh and the body of the bird, and tuck more sage and lemon twist inside the resulting space.
- Generously cover the skin of the bird with salt and pepper, on all sides. Pat it onto the skin.
- Spoon your augmented mirepoix into the body cavity of the bird.
- Optionally and preciously, use a paring knife to poke holes on the excess flaps of skin surrounding the cavity, and pin these closed with a sprig of rosemary. This is a bit tricky, but it does a good job of keeping your mirepoix where it can work its aromatic magic, and it looks amazing.
- Brush the melted butter onto the skin of the bird.
- Set up your roasting pan. Ideally there should be some mechanism, such as a rack, to keep the bird from soaking in its juices. I have improvised a rack with carrots to good effect more than once. Put the bird on the rack breast-side down.
- Put the bird in the oven. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, check on the bird. It should be browning at least a little, and should smell *amazing.* Turn the heat down to 400 degrees. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, flip the bird over. I take the pan out of the oven, and use tongs and a broad spatula. Turn the heat back up to 425, to brown the top. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
- When the last timer goes, take the bird out. An instant read thermometer jabbed in the meat of the thigh should read 165 degrees. If not — ovens vary — put it back in for a few more minutes. Avoid the bone with your probe, or your reading will skew high. Tent the bird with foil, and rest it for ten minutes before carving.
Carve and enjoy! If you prefer a very crispy skin, you can experiment with heats up to 450 degrees.