Baked Chickens used to scare me. They seemed complicated, messy, time consuming and well…impossible. Going to the grocery store deli and picking up a pre-roasted chicken seemed so much easier, but this was until I realized how easy chicken was to make. Sure, I’ll admit when I need dinner QUICK I sometimes will still pick up that store chicken that’s already made, a bag of salad and call it good…but if you really want to impress someone and have time to wait for it to bake…don’t be scared.
I get my whole chicken when they are on sale. As a rule I try not to pay more for my chicken then I could buy the pre-cooked version. There’s no logical reason to this, except I like to feel like I’m getting a good deal when I have to cook the darn thing. I would say on average I pay about $4 for a whole chicken. They also freeze and de-thaw well, so there’s often one or two in my freezer for later use. So now you see how I pick my chicken…..on sale! For a good deal on organic or free range chickens I get them at Trader Joe’s…but maybe that’s another post.
So, you have a chicken in your cart…what other things do you need to make a FANTASTIC chicken? Well, I mix it up a bit with what I have on hand, but tonight I’m going to just give you the version of what I made:
Herb Roasted Chicken
1 Whole Chicken
2 Small Lemons
1 Package of Poultry Blend Fresh Herbs (in your produce section near all the other fresh herbs) (it’s a blend of Rosemary, Thyme and Sage I think)
2 Tablespoons Butter
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic (optional)
Salt and Pepper
Preheat your oven to 375
This is a super informal Recipe at the moment, so roll with me here! So you have a chicken…please treat it properly and take it out of it’s bag. Rinse it with cold water (inside and out) and remove the neck and giblets from the inside cavity. Let it drip dry and place it either in a roasting pan or whatever baking dish you have.
On the side, melt your 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Proceed to chop your fresh poultry herbs. Chop them as fine or as course as you want. I try to peel the little leave from the giant stems before I chop because Rosemary and Thyme have woody stems that you end up picking off your food. (NOTE: Those stems can be shoved up the cavity of your chicken when your done with them and when the chicken cooks it will give it a nice aromatic flavor from the inside. ) So chop chop chop your herbs up and throw them in with your butter. (You can use a combination of dry rosemary, thyme, and sage if you need to, but it’s not quite as impressive) Now, you need to zest your lemons…I used what I proclaim as the best lemons on earth…the Meyer Lemon. They are more orange colored than a normal lemon and have a softer peel. They zest better and they are juicier. Yet, I’ve been known to just use any lemon I can find. So, hopefully you have a zester…if not the REALLY fine part of your cheese grater sort of works. You just want the colored part of the lemon…so zest away. I used two small lemons but one big one would work. Put that zest in your herb, butter and olive oil mixture. Then go ahead and sqeeze the juice from those lemons and add that. Since I like to shove things in the cavity of my chicken….DON’T THROW AWAY those lemon peels…shove them in with the herb stems inside your chicken…extra flavor) At this point you may or may not want to chop or pulverize some garlic (I didn’t feel like it tonight) but you can add that to your mix as well…Garlic is good for you and yummy. Mix all those wonderful things together and you have a gooey green mess that you are going to shmere all over your chicken. Don’t be shy, let the herbs just sit in chunks on top. You can even open up some of the skin and put some of the mixture under the skin. Add a nice amount of Kosher Salt and Fresh Pepper on top. (NOTE: You can set aside a tablespoon of this mixture to put over your potatoes….I can’t do that or my kid won’t eat the potatoes.)
I do my potatoes one of two ways (and tonight sort of a combination of both)
ONE: I buy those little tiny potatoes, toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and some of the herbs and put them at the bottom of the dish to roast with the chicken.
TWO: I buy or have on hand larger potatoes which I chop in big chunks….drizzle the olive oil over and salt and pepper…place in the bottom of the pan to roast.
Heck you can even do some of these ideas (which I have been known to do) Omit the potatoes in the roast and just boil them for mashed potatoes, Add a course chopped onion and those mini carrots with your potatoes and roast them together (LOVE Roasted Carrots) You can even Drizzle on some Balsamic Vinegar when you do the whole toss them in olive oil thing), Oh how the options are ENDLESS.
Your chicken will cook in about an hour and a half or so. You want it to reach and internal temperature of about 165ºF…as it comes out of the oven and rests for a bit before you cut it…it will continue to cook. One site told me to cook it to 180 and they are NUTS.
Your potatoes should be fork tender, and if not, set your cooked chicken aside and throw those potatoes back in for a bit.
I swear it’s easier than I make it sound. You will soon be a pro at mixing your own chicken Shmere….get creative……GO!
Psssst…..want to know another secret or two? This chicken will make more than one meal for my family. When you’ve had your “Roast Chicken Dinner” and maybe even used some leftover chicken in a sandwich, salad, enchiladas, you name it ….throw that whole chicken in to a big old pot of boiling water and break it down for Chicken Noodle Soup, or if your not in the mood for picking off the extra meat from the bones for the soup….throw that out and you have a nice chicken stock to put in the freezer for next time. In total I can get three meals out of a baked chicken!