Roast chicken recipes come in to roost

When it comes to food writers, birds of a feather flock together.

Ideal for chilly winter evenings, roast chicken is the dish everyone’s crowing about. First Jan Roberts-Dominguez shared side dishes in this week’s A la Carte to accompany the “perfect” roast chicken, as covered in her Oct. 28 column. Then more recipes for the actual main dish hit The Associated Press wire and other papers around the country.

But it really is true that roast chicken is a go-to meal that stretches your food dollar, makes meal planning easier and requires very little prep time, 15 minutes or less for each of the following three dishes. As the Detroit Free Press suggests, toss leftover cooked chicken in green salads or use it to make chicken salad a stir-fry or sandwiches. You can also use it in casseroles, pasta dishes and soups.

When storing leftovers, be sure to remove meat from the chicken carcass (and refrigerate it, of course!) for sure-fire food safety. Use leftover cooked chicken within three days. You can freeze the carcass and use it later for soup or stock, as your time permits.

If you want an entire week’s worth of meals, roast two birds simultaneously to save your time and the energy your oven uses. And always roast chicken with the skin on. Yes, the skin is where all the fat is, but as Jan has advocated, it also keeps the bird from drying out during cooking. Remove the skin after you’ve removed the chicken from the oven, if that’s your pleasure. For me, all the pleasure is in the skin.

So plan on buying a chicken this week if you’ve never roasted one. When shopping, look for good-sized, plump chickens, some of which are labeled “oven roasters.” Two 4- to 5-pound birds will fit together on a broiler pan or large roasting pan, the Free Press reports. A broiler pan allows the fat to drip into the pan’s bottom while the birds brown evenly on all sides.

An Oregon State University Family Food educator, Jan does not recommend rinsing a chicken before cooking because any latent bacteria will be destroyed inside the hot oven, whereas the area around your sink will just become a bacteria breeding zone if you insist on this step and don’t properly sanitize after it.

In the first recipe from the Free Press, however, rinsing the chicken removes excess salt from the brining process. The second dish from The Associated Press is a one-pot meal that includes potatoes, carrots and onions.

The last recipe was developed by cook and author Lucinda Scala Quinn, who after making roast chicken thousands of times, cut out the bird’s backbone one day in a rush, laid the whole bird flat and cooked it in under an hour.


Simply Seasoned Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken, about 5 pounds

1 cup kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 cup sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 large clove garlic, pressed or crushed

2 tablespoons favorite fresh herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, tarragon), chopped, or several teaspoons dried

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half

1 large lemon, cut in half

2 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth, or more as needed

Remove neck and giblets of the chicken for another use. Place chicken in a large stock pot. Pour in 2 gallons water and sprinkle in the salt and sugar, swishing it around to dissolve. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

Remove chicken from brine, discard brine and rinse chicken well inside and out under cold running water. Pat chicken dry. Place on a platter and return to refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small bowl, mix the butter with the garlic and fresh or dried herbs. Remove chicken from refrigerator and pat dry with paper towels again. Season cavity of chicken with salt and pepper to taste and place the onion and lemon halves in cavity. Gently loosen skin of chicken from breast, thigh and leg, being careful not to tear it. Rub about half of herb butter under chicken skin and onto flesh. Rub remaining herb butter all over chicken’s outer skin and season with salt and pepper.

Loosely tie chicken legs together, and place chicken in a shallow roasting pan. Add the chicken broth to pan. Roast 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F, and continue roasting about 1 hour more or until nicely browned and cooked through. Baste occasionally with pan juices. Chicken is done when internal temperature is 165 F.

Remove chicken from oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. If desired, make a pan sauce with drippings. Degrease juices, and set pan over 2 burners. Add broth or wine and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits on pan’s bottom. Knead together 1 tablespoon flour with 1 tablespoon softened butter. Whisk butter-flour mixture into pan to thicken.

Makes 6 servings.


Roasted Chicken With Root Vegetables and Garlic

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken

3 tablespoons butter

4 sprigs fresh thyme

3 sprigs (each about 4 inches long) fresh rosemary

1 yellow onion, quartered

1 (12-ounce) bag baby carrots

1 pound new potatoes

1 lemon, quartered

6 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole

Ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 300 F. Combine the salt and garlic powder, then rub mixture over and under chicken’s skin. Set aside.

In a 5 1⁄2-quart (or larger) Dutch oven over medium, melt the butter. Add the thyme and rosemary. Heat for 30 seconds. Add the chicken, breast down, and brown for 4 minutes. Use tongs to carefully turn chicken and brown on bottom for 6 minutes.

Arrange the onion, carrots, potatoes, lemon and garlic cloves around chicken, then place lid over pot. Transfer to oven and roast for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until chicken breast reads 160 F on an instant thermometer.

Transfer chicken to a platter and tent with foil. Use a slotted spoon to transfer vegetables to a serving bowl. Cover to keep warm.

Discard lemons and any herb stems from pot. Place pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled over chicken and vegetables.

Makes 4 servings.


Flat Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, backbone removed

1⁄2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus a pinch

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided

1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, smashed or chopped

Heat oven to 400 F. Cut along both sides of the chicken’s backbone with kitchen shears to remove bone; reserve backbone for broth. Spread bird down flat, skin-side up. Press down firmly on breastbone to flatten. Pat dry with paper towels. Season with the salt and pepper, to taste, on both sides.

Heat a large, oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add chicken, skin side down; cook until browned, 3 minutes. Turn, being careful not to break skin. Transfer skillet to oven. Cook until chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove chicken to cutting board; let rest 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon butter to pan drippings; whisk. Whisk together remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, the red-pepper flakes, garlic and pinch of salt in a bowl. Cut chicken into pieces; drizzle with lemon sauce and pan sauce.

Makes 6 servings.

— Recipe adapted by the Chicago Tribune from “Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys,” by Lucinda Scala Quinn.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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