All recipes copyright © 2005 Roy Finamore
My Roast Chicken
Satisfaction. It may be nothing fancy, but a good roast chicken is a very satisfying thing to sit down to at the dinner table. My niece Hannah Finamore Rossler says that she likes the skin on the legs, because "it's so lemony." Now, if only she would eat potatoes.
I think of this chicken as weekend food, since it needs to sit in the fridge for a while before you roast it. But there's no reason you can's season the chicken before you go to work on a Tuesday morning and leave it in the refrigerator all day.
Make more than one, so you'll have leftovers. Use two skillets, or a large roasting pan, so the chickens have plenty of breathing room to cook and brown evenly.
1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) organic chicken
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 sprigs lemon thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and halved
3/4 cup dry vermouth
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
Wash and dry the chicken. Season the cavity liberally with salt and pepper. Stick your fingers under the skin along the breast to release it, and slip in two sprigs of thyme. Flip the chicken over, push your fingers under the skin along the backbone, and slip in two sprigs of thyme, up by the thighs. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil, and fold the wings under the chicken. Season the back liberally with salt and pepper.
Flip the chicken over and put it in a large cast iron skillet. Put the onion and remaining two sprigs of thyme into the cavity. Halve the lemons, and juice them over the chicken. Stuff two of the lemon shells into the cavity and drop the other two into the skillet. Tie the legs together, or if your butcher has left you with a skin flap, poke the legs through that. Season liberally with salt and pepper, add the neck, heart, and giblets to the skillet, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you're ready to cook it, and heat the oven to 400.
Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Pour the vermouth over the chicken, and roast for another 45 minutes, basting every 15 minutes.
Put the skillet on the stove, tilt the chicken over the skillet so any juices run out of the cavity, and let the bird rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes.
Tilt the skillet and spoon out any fat, and remove the neck, heart, and giblets. Cook's treat.
Carve the chicken and arrange the pieces on a platter.
Reduce the juices in the pan by half and taste for salt and pepper. If you want, swirl in the butter. Spoon the pan juices over the chicken, and serve.
Substitute thyme for the lemon thyme, an orange for the lemons, and red wine for the vermouth.
Pretty much everything goes with roast chicken, so keep with the season. Fresh polenta and tomato salad in the height of summer. Creamy spinach and lemon potatoes. Roast pumpkin and riso.
If you've made more than one chicken, you may have enough chicken for the Chicken and Artichoke Pie (page TK). Or make Curried Chicken Salad (page TK). But there are also open-faced sandwiches to make for lunch. Butter toasted English muffins. Top with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and sliced chicken.