Roast chicken is one of those things that just screams "home cooking" to me. And it's not hard to make well. But it's also really easy to grab a rotisserie chicken at the store for a few bucks. Which is a lot quicker and easier. Very tempting. Especially when you can grab one for, what, like five bucks?
Until you start to do a little research about those chickens. Turns out, some of them are there because they were the rejects of the meat counter to begin with. A nice way of not wasting the meat coming close to it's "sell by' date. Others are specifically designed to be rotisserie birds, injected with a solution so that they can stand those hours under the heat lamps waiting to be bought without losing that extreme juiciness of the meat. And the list of ingredients on most rotisserie birds is long and full of scientific names. Sodium tripolyphosphate, anyone? Starts to get a little creepy to realize that it's more of a Frankenchicken than Grandmama's delicious dinner's relative.
They are yummy. I'll give you that. But so is making your own. And you can make it startlingly similar to those rotisserie chickens at home, with just a handful of ingredients...none of them unpronounceable. You also can control the quality of your chicken, which for me means getting it from a farm that I trust. Also, related news: if your chicken is advertised as having had a vegetarian diet...that's not natural for chickens. Just sayin'. I'll get off the soapbox now. Use whatever whole chicken you would like. (But seriously, the better the chicken, the better it will taste!)
The recipe that I use comes from Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook, My Father's Daughter. And let me just say that while I'm not behind some of Gwyneth's antics (check out her blog...great tips for things like decorating your guest apartment and shopping in Milan *eyeroll*), she knows how to cook a chicken. Or, at least, Joel Robuchon does, because that's who she says she learned this method from. She also hangs out with Mario Batali. So her Italian recipes are pretty good as well. And her miso dressing recipe is to die for. I can eat it like soup. But let's face it...she may not have a firm grip on how most of us live. I mean, the last time I went house hunting in the Italian countryside, I was riding a unicorn.
Back to the chicken.
Preheat your oven to 400. Soften 2 tablespoons of butter. Mix the butter with about a teaspoon each of garlic salt and paprika, and then a little bit of salt and fresh ground pepper. It should look like a smooth paste.
Then prep your chicken: take out the neck and the packet of innards. Yes, this should be obvious, but you would laugh if you knew how often I rush and forget this part. Ew.
Rinse the chicken and give it a quick scrub with some kosher salt (yes, I know, the jury's out on rinsing chicken...whatever. I have not yet (knock on wood) given anyone food poisoning.), then rinse again and pat it dry with paper towels.
Take the butter mix and rub it all over the chicken. Be sure to separate the skin away from the meat and tuck some in there too...that will help the skin crisp up well! This is actually a ridiculous part of the recipe, because I have yet to find a way to do this without getting more of the mix on my hands than on the chicken. But it tastes so yummy that I persevere. Worth it, I promise you.
Gwyneth then has you tie up the bird with kitchen twine. I never actually have kitchen twine on hand. Oops. So I don't do that.
Put the chicken on one of it's sides in a heavy roasting pan. Roast it for 25 minutes, then turn it onto it's other side. Sprinkle with a little water, and then roast another 25 minutes. Turn it on its back, and roast for 10 minutes, then turn it breast down, and roast for another 10 minutes. That's a hour and 10 minutes total, if you're counting. This is a plan-ahead kind of meal.
Let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes to let the juices redistribute...if you can. My family will usually be sneaking over to pick meat straight off of the carcass while I'm distracted making sides.
Carve and serve. Save the carcass to make stock, and save any extra meat for other meals.
Coming up next, I'll post how you can make that stock, and a few options of what to do with it!