There are many reasons why I enjoy cooking, one of them being the feeling of accomplishment after making a wonderful meal. Many people my age eat out a lot, with the common complaint that cooking at home is just too time consuming. However, what many do not realize is the beauty of taking quality ingredients and creating magic with your hands. Though yes, cooking can definitely be time consuming there are also many recipes that are simple to make with minimal cleanup. This Herb Roasted Chicken is the perfect example -- you marinate it for an hour in a brine and throw it in the oven for another hour. The reason I love this dish so much is that you can use this chicken with anything -- pair it with some vegetables (I chose carrots), or use the left overs for sandwiches, salads and even soups!
Ingredients for Herb Roasted Chicken:
- 4 cups water
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 cups ice water
- 1 chicken, about 3 lbs, neck and giblets removed
- 3 tablespoons butter
For the brine, combine the water, salt, sugar, half of the dried herbs and bay leaves into a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Reduce to heat to low and simmer for 10 min so the flavors of the herbs can be drawn out. Pour the brine into a deep set large bowl and cool it down with your ice water. Set aside.
Clean the chicken by rinsing out the cavity and outer skin and place on a clean surface. Be sure not to contaminate any vegetables or other ingredients, because no one is a fan of salmonella! Place the chicken in the brine, make sure it is completely immersed in the brine. Cover and allow to marinate for at least an hour and up to 6 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Remove the chicken from the brine and place on a clean surface. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel as shown. Separate the skin from the flesh, you can do this by carefully inserting your fingers underneath the skin and gently pull up to create a space or pocket. Take the butter and rub it underneath the skin and flesh -- this will make your chicken moist and tender while accentuating the flavor of the herbs in the meat. Coat the skin with te remaining herbs and place in a roasting pan, if more herbs are needed just add more.
Bake the chicken for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, basting the chicken half way through and again during the last 10 minutes. To test the doneness of your chicken, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, it should read 165F. If you do not own a thermometer, cut into the chicken and if it releases pink juices it is undercooked. Your chicken is done when the juices are a clear yellow.
Transfer the chicken to a carving board and allow it to rest for 10-20 minutes. This allows the juices to settle into the meat so it does not end up running out all over the board. To serve, begin carving the legs --it is easiest to cut at the joints. Remove the wings and then the legs and thighs the same way. To carve each breast, start at the breabone and cut downward and parallel to the rib cage. Then make a deep horizontal cut right above the thigh and wing joints. You can choose to serve the breasts whole or cut them into thin slices.
I hope everyone gives this recipe a shot, like I said it used minimal ingredients and theres not much to clean up either! You can save cooking time by cleaning as you go, so at the end you do not feel like you've made a mess at all :) Remember, always keep your work space clean, it makes cooking a lot easier.
Like I said before, you can use these leftovers in various ways -- chop up any leftovers and make a chicken salad, or even shred up the chicken and put it on a bed of field greens. I like to keep the carcass and make a wonderful chicken stock out of it for sauces and soups, either way the options are limitless!