When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Delicious roast chicken dinner

There are few more inviting aromas than that of a delicious dinner roasting in the oven on a Sunday afternoon. The combination of the oven gently warming the house over several hours and the wafting scent of roasting meat, herbs and vegetables gets everyone happily anticipating a relaxing, enjoyable evening meal together.

In recent months, my favourite Sunday family dinner has been lemon and herb roasted chicken, prepared according to the directions in Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook. I never used to make a habit of roasting whole chickens, as my aversion to excessively handling raw poultry led me to avoid that activity unless absolutely necessary. (My brother Frank feels the same way about whole raw chickens or turkeys. We're not sure why, but we suspect it might have something to do with the time(s?) my mom jokingly chased us through the kitchen when we were kids, holding a 25 pound turkey by the legs and gobbling at us!! But I digress.) I had to get over my whole-fowl-handling-phobia when Matt and I decided last fall to order several roasting chickens from an organic farm, and after trying Jamie Oliver's recipe, I decided the end result was definitely worth a few moments of squeamishness while prepping the bird for the oven.

To make scrumptious roast chicken the way Jamie does, you will need:

1 x approximately 3 1/2 pound chicken
2 medium onions
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 bulb of garlic
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon
a small bunch of fresh thyme, rosemary, bay, or sage, or a mixture

Preheat oven to 475 F. Wash vegetables (leave the skins on) and roughly chop them. Break the garlic bulb into cloves, leaving them unpeeled as well. Pile all of the vegetables and garlic into the middle of a large roasting pan and drizzle them with olive oil.
Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper, rubbing it all over the bird. Carefully prick the lemon all over with the tip of a sharp knife. Put the lemon inside the chicken's cavity, with the bunch of herbs.
Place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan and put it into the preheated oven. Turn the oven down immediately to 400 F and cook the chicken for one hour and 20 minutes. Baste the chicken halfway through cooking and if the vegetables in the roast pan look dry, add a splash of water to keep them from burning.
When the chicken is cooked, take the pan out of the oven and transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes or so, covered with a layer of aluminum foil and a kitchen towel.
Carve chicken and serve. (We love to enjoy our chicken with roasted potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, as well as brussel sprouts that have been steamed and then sauteed with olive oil and garlic. Fantastic!)

I'm not trying to tell you what to do, but if you've never roasted a chicken stuffed with a lemon and fresh herbs, you really want to try it! The flavour of the chicken once it's roasted this way is absolutely incredible, and the carcass makes a delicious pot of soup for a later meal. (See here for a healthy homemade chicken noodle soup recipe.)

Soon barbecue season will be here, and we'll be trading in our Sunday roast dinners for grilled meats and outdoor dining. (Ahhh, spring and summer!) In the meantime, we'll share a few more lovely roasted chickens at our cozy kitchen table, enjoying good times spent together over savoury comfort food.

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