Sometimes food needs to be simple and basic because life is crazy enough.
Example: Kids screaming. Big brother aggravating little brother. Little brother throwing food at big brother. Supper has yet to be planned and the kitchen is a mess and wait, is that clock right?
On this particular afternoon, I needed something that I could throw together in 20 minutes and be ready when I got home an hour and a half later with two starving children in tow. I decided to throw a chicken in the oven. I make this chicken once a month. I love it! Its so homey and my whole house smells like fall and Grandma’s and the kids love it. My favorite part about this chicken is I can make it stretch for at least 3 more meals which saves me money and time.
The thought of touching a naked, raw chicken used to disturb me (sometimes it still does, but I try to imagine how delicious it will be when its done). And then I worried if I was able to get the whole thing assembled, I would burn it or not cook it long enough. It seemed like an intimidating task.
And then I met Ina, as in Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa – a culinary hero of mine. She has totally transformed the way I look at food. She taught me a good recipe didn’t need 20 ingredients, good olive oil and salt and pepper can make vegetables sing, and a perfect roasted chicken is simple and beautiful. Can I get an Amen? So, thank you Ina for giving me the encouragement to try and making it so simple.
Getting ready for a bath. After making this recipe about 20 times, I realized its much easier to keep the chicken in a large bowl when rinsing.
Ready for the oven. I stuffed the cavity with garlic, lemon, and onion. Then drenched it with olive oil, salt, and tandori spice. It took me about 15 minutes to get to this step. You could cut the onions, garlic, and lemon the night before or morning of for quicker prep.
More craziness while the chicken is in the oven.
Finished. Whenever I pull the bird out of the oven, I swear I can hear angels singing. And I might have sang the “Hallelujah Chorus” a few times. Look at that perfectly cooked skin and the juices surrounding the chicken. If you have time, that beautiful liquid makes an amazing gravy.
And now the ‘is it done’ test. Simply poke it in between the thigh and breast or where the thigh is the thickest. If the juices run clear than its good. If they are still a bit pink, pop the bird back in the oven for about 10 more minutes until it passes the ‘is it done’ test.
The meat is unbelievably juicy and there’s a bonus . . .
Roasted garlic! Smear it on toasted bread or throw it in hummus or in your favorite pasta dish.
Simple Roasted Chicken
adapted from the Barefoot Contessa
1 chicken (4 to 5 lbs)
2 lemons (cut into quarters)
2 large yellow or white onions (roughly sliced)
1 head of garlic (cut in half crosswise, skin on)
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Tie the legs together tightly. Place chicken in a 9×12 casserole dish breast up and tuck the wings under the bird. Insert one half of the garlic, lemon slices, and onion into the cavity of the chicken. Add the remaining garlic and lemon and onion slices to the dish. Rub the chicken with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 1hr 20 min or until juices run clear. Cover with foil for 15 minutes then dig in!
Variation: Add tandori spice or cinnamon and cumin with the salt to season chicken for a Moroccan flair. Also thyme and rosemary go well with the lemons, garlic and onions.
DON’T THROW AWAY THE BONES! You can use them later in the week to make Chicken Soup or Stock.
In the next few posts, I’ll be showing the many ways you can use up that extra chicken (if there is any left.)