How to Roast a Chicken

In line with my South African heritage, I am a big fan of a proper Sunday roast. Growing up, it was the Breyer’s thing and I am a faithful champion of tradition. I like to roast or braise a sizable piece of meat that we can enjoy for dinner that night and then parlay it into additional one or two meals. In our household, Sundays serve as the best day of the week for such meals. I am usually home milling about, getting my ducks in a row for the work week and am happy to man the oven. Also, it is a wonderful excuse to stay home. Roasted chicken a la #ebbcooks is always a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

Usually, weekends involve adventuresome eating and so come Sunday, it is typically time to get back on track. I always pair our protein with vegetables – whatever is in season – roasted with olive oil, spices and fresh herbs. Sometimes we sauté and often times we steam. These days we cannot seem to get enough of cauliflower.  This readily available vegetable is so versatile. Puree it with some coconut milk and nutmeg to yield a rich cauliflower mash. Prepare a medley with browned pine nuts and toasted garbanzo or stewed cannellini beans. A bunch of chopped fresh parsley, raw walnuts, grated Pecorino, a splash of white wine vinegar and olive oil goes a long way.

Greens are always a healthy, welcome partner too. Outside of kale we like mustard greens, collards and Swiss chard. Spinach works also. All taste splendid sautéed in a bit of olive, sesame or coconut oil and served with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice just prior to serving. Lest we not forget our trusty beets. This past weekend, I picked up golden beets in addition to our usually purple crimson friends. A first for us and they were marvelous. Bonjour friends. Pair them with creamy goat cheese, chopped herbs, fresh cracked pepper and a drizzle of your best olive oil. 

Make some sweet potato fries. Peel your sweet potatoes, cut them into wedges, drizzle with olive oil and into the oven they go. I like to add paprika to ours and serve said with Vegenaise. Belgium style. On rare occasion, if partner-in-crime is lucky, I roast new or baby purple potatoes with olive or sesame oil, fresh rosemary, garlic and grated lemon peel. I then like to delicately smash them with forks right before salting the heck out of them and serving. Unbridled bliss on a fork.

The below recipe is an oldie but goodie at the manor. In fact, I briefly spoke to it in my very first blog post. It is in our cozy kitchen that my love affair with cooking began and all thanks to a roasted chicken. I love this meal because it could not be simpler to put together. Prep work is a breeze, pop it in the oven and just shy of two hours later, you are fast approaching business. Over the course of these two valuable hours you can watch an Indy film, take a hot bubble bath, fiddle around on the computer, create a new music mix for the gym, clean the kitchen or spend time with a loved one as a wonderful aroma fills your home. You get the picture. It is a real lock and load kind of thing. This dish is ideal for intimate dinner parties, Sunday suppers and the likes. The best part? Your chicken yields serious leftovers. My favorite? I can use the leftover carcass for chicken stock. Happy Sunday roasting my friends!

Kitchen Tip
If you plan in advance, it is best to clean the bird and salt it the day before. Put it in the fridge covered in plastic wrap over night. The next day you should be ready to go. Please remember to take it out of the fridge approximately an hour before you want to get it ready for roasting.

5 lb organic chicken – In Charlotte, my favorites are those from Earth Fare
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 lemons – 1 for stuffing the bird and the second for its zest
1 head of garlic
½ cup of chicken broth
1 bunch of thyme
1 bunch of rosemary
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried fennel seeds
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper

Down to Business
1. If you did not do this the day before, fear not. Rinse your chicken with cold water, remove the innards and pat dry with a paper towel. Now that your bird is ready for decoration, place it in the dish in which you plan to roast it. Liberally salt your bird. Remember to place it with the breasts facing the sky. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I am inattentive in this regard.

2. Stuff the cavity with a lemon cut in half, a head of garlic cut in half and the bunch of thyme as well as rosemary. Your bird will appear to be bursting at the steams. Bravo!

3. Drizzle with the olive oil (and a little more if you like) and substantially decorate with the red pepper flakes, rosemary, fennel, some generous pinches of salt and liberal cracks pepper. Grate the lemon zest and sprinkle that over the bird.

4. Now that your bird is ready for the oven, feel free to tuck chopped vegetables around it. This is not mandatory but an easy way to produce a one pot meal. We usually like carrots, mushrooms, Brussel sprouts or quartered red onions. Roasted brussel sprouts taste beautiful with golden raisins and just a dash of apple cider vinegar. If you have time, add some chopped bacon. Other options can include squash, parsnips or sweet potato cubes. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with fresh or dried herbs of choice – rosemary, sage, thyme – any one of them will do. Now add the ½ cup of chicken broth to the bottom of the dish.

5. You want to roast your chicken at 425 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Be sure to check on the vegetables. Most can stay in for the duration but you will need to remove Brussel sprouts after approximately a half hour.

6. After the allotted time, your bird should have a lovely, crisp and golden exterior. I usually do not eat poultry skin but when it’s my own bird, I seize the day. Take your bird out of the oven and cover in aluminum foil for 15 minutes. Now cut and serve. The juices should run clear.

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