Roast chicken, a perfect meal sought after by many and achieved by few. And you’re probably thinking, what makes a perfect roast chicken? The answer is salt! No matter what spices, herbs, or marinades you might use, a liberal sprinkling of sea salt rubbed in the chicken cavity and on the outside of the chicken (through olive oil) will tremendously improve the overall flavor of your roast chicken. According to John Hastings, salt combats bitterness and penetrates proteins on a cellular level, and when used to make a brine, it leaves meats juicier and more delicious.
And salt isn’t the only secret to my perfect roast chicken! Since I love vegetables I like to smother the bottom of the pan with tons of fresh mushrooms, baby carrots, chopped onions, and celery. When the chicken cooks, its wonderful juices saturate the vegetables and make for a fantastic gravy! After the chicken has finished cooking, I puree half the vegetables and add them to a stock based gravy. The vegetable puree adds great depth and texture to the gravy making it a perfect compliment to the moist roast chicken!
After making about 6 different roast chickens, I believe that this one was by far my favorite. Practice makes perfect and I’m sure you’ll invent a special secret of your own, which I hope you’ll later share with me! Bon Appetit!
Perfect Roast Chicken, adapted from Martha Stewart
- 1 6-7lb Chicken
- 1 Bag Baby Carrots (or 3 carrots, chopped and peeled)
- 4 Stalks Celery
- 1 Box Sliced Mushrooms, coarsley chopped
- 2 Medium Onions, chopped
- 2-3 Small Red Potatoed, chopped
- 1 Package Fresh Thyme
- 1 Lemon
- 3-6 Garlic Cloves, smashed and peeled
- Paprika (optional)
- Sea Salt (can use kosher)
- Fresh Ground Pepper
- 1 Cup Chicken Stock/Broth
- Aluminum Foil
- Immersion Blender
- Let chicken stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove and discard the plastic pop-up timer from chicken if there is one. Remove the giblets and excess fat from the chicken cavity. Rinse chicken inside and out under cold running water. Dry chicken thoroughly with paper towels. Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken liberally with sea salt and pepper, and set aside.
- Sprinkle onions, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, and carrots at the bottom of the baking dish.
- Place the palm of your hand on top of lemon and, pressing down, roll lemon back and forth several times. This softens the lemon and allows the juice to flow more freely. Pierce entire surface of lemon with a fork.
- Insert garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, and lemon into cavity. Place chicken on top of chopped vegetables and rub the entire surface with olive oil. Then sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and paprika and place breast side down in pan.
- Cover chicken entirely with aluminum foil making a tent. Place in the oven, and roast for 1 hour. After the first hour turn the chicken breast side up and roast uncovered for another hour and twenty minutes or until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and the juices run clear when pierced.
- When chicken seems done, insert an instant-read thermometer into the breast, then the thigh. The breast temperature should read 180 degrees.
- Remove chicken from oven, and transfer to a cutting board. Let chicken stand 10 to 15 minutes so the juices settle. Meanwhile, let the pan drippings cool for a few minutes and puree half of the cooked vegetables with your immersion blender. After the pan drippings have cooled, pour them into a plastic bag, leaving the remaining vegetables in the pan. Cut a hole in the corner and pour the pan drippings into a sautee pan with 1 cup of chicken stock. Heat on med-high until it boils and reduced down to half, about 4 minutes.
- Then pour chicken stock mixture into the bowl with the vegetable puree and combine. If you want to add lemon, take the lemon out from the chicken cavity and squeeze the juices into the gravy mixture.
- Carve the chicken, and serve with your choice of sides (matzoh stuffing, rice, cous-cous, sauteed spinach or broccoli). For plating the chicken place starch in one plate corner, spread some of the gravy on the remainder of the plate and place chicken on top.
*This recipe serves about 6 people. Stay tuned for ways to turn the remainder of your 7lb chicken into tomorrow night’s lunch or dinner!