So we end up with a whole chicken a lot more often than I have menus that would, er, require a whole chicken. And while I once helped slaughter chickens on a real farm in South Dakota (which is a story for another day), I don’t myself feeling like hacking away until it ends up in pieces, most days.
So I’ve played around a little bit with James McNair’s roast chicken recipe, which is the best one I’ve found. Below is an adaptation with some variations on a theme. No matter how you cut it, lemon, garlic, butter and herbs slathered all over a hunk of chicken is really a no-miss proposition.
Whole chicken (we like organic, pasture-raised; here’s why)
Fresh herbs: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, tarragon or whatever compatible mix you have, chopped finely
3 Tbls (grass-fed organic) butter
3 cloves (organic) garlic, chopped fine
1 lemon (organic is best, since you will stick the whole thing in the chicken); halved, juiced and partially zested
Salt and pepper
3 cups (organic) chicken stock or water
3 good-sized (organic) potatoes, cubed
2-3 (organic) carrots, sliced in rounds
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the garlic, zest, salt, lemon juice, pepper and herbs into the butter and put the chicken in a roasting pan.
1) Get all up in it by following Mr. McNair’s directions to carefully use your fingers to slip the buttery mixture between the skin and meat of the chicken. This is wonderful when you have the time and inclination to bother, as it seals in the flavors. But it is time-consuming and brings you into very close and messy contact with the bird.
2) Take the easy road by melting the butter mixture a bit in the microwave and pour over the chicken, spreading it around a bit. I’ll admit this is what I do most days and it turns out pretty tasty.
Lower the heat to 350 degrees and cook for an additional hour and a half, or until done. Mr. McNair roasts it uncovered, basting every 15 minutes. As I always want to hang out with Maya instead of basting something, I cover it instead and just leave it more or less undisturbed until done. (If you do leave it uncovered, be sure the potatoes and carrots are submerged in liquid or they will dry out.)
Let it rest for ten minutes or so after removing from the oven. Enjoy with brown rice if you wish.