Sunday, May 3, 2009

Roast Chicken with Garlic & Roasted Tomatoes ... mmmmm & easy!

An impromptu dinner party at my place inspired this recipe which I had once
before when my roomie and great friend Colleen cooked it during grad school ... this Saturday our friend, who shall remain nameless but disgraced, cancelled a 6 person dinner party at the last minute so I had folks to my digs instead ... we are still angry with you by the way!!!

Anyhow... I tried to remember and scanned a few recipes - then came up with this combo that resulted in a tender, juicy, crispy browned chicken that was lovely. The only thing I would change next time is cooking it breast up (oops) and probably make a pan gravy with the extra drippings.

Roast Chicken with Garlic & Roast Tomatoes (serves 4-5)
  • 1 Full Chicken, 4-5 lbs, defrosted
  • 2 packs grape tomatoes, like Cherubs or farmers market babies
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, depends on how much you like it
  • 2 Lemons, quartered
  • 4-5 Tsps Thyme
  • 3-4 Tbsps Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
This was the first time I have ever roasted a whole bird, so needless to say I was a little intimidated. It turns out not to be all that scary in fact ... the worst part was getting the weird bits (read gizzards) out of the bum. Uck. But I used tongs and it wasn't all that bad:))) So, get the stuff out of your bird and toss that - cuz I don't do exotic dishes with that stuff. Total time for a bird this size, including brining is about 3 hours. I put it in the oven at 6:15 with the intention of eating at 8:30 ... allowing 2 hours in the oven + a 15 minute rest. Was a bit too long ... but gives you a guide for planning.

Fill a pot of water, large enough to submerge the whole chicken, with warm water and about 4-5 tsps of sea salt or coarsley ground salt. Brine the chicken in this mixture for 1-2 hours. Less if you don't have time, but the key to brining is that the chicken retains moisture longer and ends up being super juicy.

While the chicken brines, make whatever sides you are preparing and get the rest of the ingredients set up. Mix up the Thyme, Olive Oil and about 2-3 tsps each salt & pepper in a ramekin. Quarter the lemons and halve about half of the grape tomatoes. Crush and chop the garlic. Grease a roasting pang or 2-inch deep baking vessel. Preheat the oven to 425.

Once the chicken is brined, take it out, pat it dry with paper towel and then coat it in the oil & herb mixture. Use your hands, it is way more effecient than a brush. Place the chicken, breast up, in the roasting pan. Put some of the thyme mixture and about 1/4 of the garlic into the cavity, followed by one of your quartered lemons. Tie the feet together with twine - FYI - I didn't this time as I had no twine and guess what - nothing. Nothing bad happened - maybe it would have been even better if I had ... but no biggie if you dont.

Surround the chicken with all the tomatoes, garlic and any remaining oil/herb mixture. Squeeze the lemon quarters and then place them in the pan as well. Put that bird in the oven and you're off to the races!

For a 4-5 pound bird, you'll need about an hour and 40 minutes. Ideally, you'll cook it at 425 for the first 20-30 minutes and then turn it down to about 350 for the remaining cooking time. If you remember, try to check the bird and baste it with the pan juices once or twice during cooking. I only did it once - and being a bird novice, I don't have a baster - I just spooned some liquid back over the bird. Have a meat thermometer handy to test it - you want 170-180 for the thickest part of the bird. I cooked mine a bit too long and was closer to 190 when we took it out but it was still fantastic. The tomatoes will turn out roasted with some charred and some more juicy - but very very sweet and complementary to the garlic & chicken.

Once the bird is cooked to temperature, remove it from the oven, cover it in foil and let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving. It'll still be plenty hot and very tasty. In the meantime, you can take some of the pan juices and simmer them down with some white wine and a roux or thickening agent like cornstarch to make a killer sauce. I didn't do this and we had a lighter but scrumptious meal. Saturday I served this with roasted rosemary fingerling potatoes and a salad. But it'll go with just about anything.

Once you've kicked the bird, use the leftovers to cook down in some water for chicken stock or a mean chicken soup ... which I am doing tonight.

Enjoy and thanks again Coll!!!

1 comment:

Chris said...

Sounds fantastic! It's a labor of love considering the cheap rotisserie chickens available everywhere