Can we just agree that life always seems to come back around to being crazy?
Sometimes there is an ebb, sometimes a flow, but Crazy always makes his way back.
Sometimes we might be fooled into thinking if we can just get over the hump, all of a sudden we will be standing in the greener pasture, a fresh breeze will be blowing, our kids will be skipping gleefully through the wildflowers and maybe even holding hands – and our schools will initiate a no homework policy. Forever and ever, Amen.
Ahhh. If only. . . .
But then, the hump never comes, it just changes. And we go through the cycle again.
So, we’re in another cycle now, and I’m coming out of the kicking/screaming/crying about it phase, and going back into the embracing it/making it work phase, which means . . . planning ahead.
That’s where dinners make a huge difference.
That’s where roasting two chickens at once so you can have one today, leftovers tomorrow, and chicken soup, enchiladas, or chicken pesto pasta a few days down the road makes a mama happy.
And what do we all know? A happy mama makes a happy home.
I’m not going to get all wordsy at you right now.
Mostly because roast chicken doesn’t need to be a wordsy thing, (spell-check is also telling me that “wordsy” is not a word. Whatevs, “spell-check”) but also because there are ideas and inspirations percolating in my deep-heart, quiet places and I’m waiting for them to come full circle before I blab about them.
But the chicken. . . .
The basics for the recipe came from my sister – the method, the cooking time, the loose suggestions for brine and rub ingredients, and this is the combo we’ve been using since I first made it and my family practically cried out in unison, “Can you please only ever make this roast chicken?!”
This chick’s got everything a good chick should have – super moist savory meat, delightfully golden, flavor-packed, crispy skin, and an aroma that just plain says, “We’re home, and we’re cozy tonight”.
It’s a hands down favorite. It’s pretty. It’s delicious enough for company and easy enough (with planning ahead) to make on a school night, and certainly fancy enough for Sunday Supper. (And let us not forget – it makes great leftovers.) I have yet to truly mess it up – because even when I messed it up, it still got rave reviews. My mother-in-law even admitted to me that she’d entertained ideas of asking me to cook one ahead for her and she’d come pick it up.
She lives 60 miles away.
You might want to try it.
Our Favorite Roast Chicken
As my sister said, "This sounds complicated, but it's actually pretty easy. It's probably only 20 minutes of prep, total". It's true - you just need to think ahead a little. Be sure to allow time for the brining, anywhere from 4-24 hours, then allow a total of 2 hours for prepping, cooking, and resting the chicken before you carve it. (In the cooking times listed above, I've included the minimum brining time, the prep time, and I've added the resting time in with the cooking time, so when you're planning ahead you can make time for each step). Also, in this recipe, I've not specified a specific weight of bird. I find that they're all pretty average sized (I usually buy the Coleman Organic Whole Chickens from Costco), and as long as you are using a meat theremometer as your guide, the size doesn't matter so much.
- 1 whole chicken, average sized (I like to do two at a time. if you're doing two, get them slightly smaller, so they can fit in the brine bowl together. Then increase brine ingredients by 1/2, and double the rub ingredients so you have enough for both birds.)
For the brine:
- 2 cups of water (plus more later, and some ice)
- 1/3 cup table salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 peeled and roughly chopped garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
For the "rub":
- 3 tablespoons butter, mostly melted (I use salted butter, and I find the herbs mix in best if it's not completely melted, but slightly drippy, and more like thick cream.)
- 2 garlic cloves, preferably pressed, but finely minced would be ok too, or garlic powder would be ok in a pinch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme (rubbed between palms)
- fresh ground black pepper to taste ( I do about a half teaspoon)
- 1/2 lemon
For the brine:
In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of water and next 5 ingredients (through peppercorns). Bring to a boil.
While you're waiting for the brine to boil, get a large bowl (think mixing bowl or popcorn bowl) and fill it with about 6-8 cups of ice. (you can skip this step if you have time to allow your brine to cool to room temperature before submerging your chicken).
Once the brine boils, pour it over the ice and allow it to melt, then stir to mix well.
Prep the chicken by removing anything from the inside - gizzards, pouches, neck pieces, etc).
Put the chicken in the brine, breast down. If the chicken is not completely covered by the brine, add enough water to make it so. Cover, and refrigerate overnight if you have time. (If not, I've found 4-6 hours to be good too.)
When you're ready to cook the chicken, Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse it with water. Pat it completely dry with paper towels (this makes for crispy skin). Place it on a roasting rack in a roasting pan, breast side up, and wings tucked back (if you want - I don't always do this).
For the rub:
Combine mostly melted butter, garlic, and spices (I usually just give it a quick stir with a fork).
Slowly pour the melted butter mixture over the chicken, using a rubber spatula or your fingers to rub evenly over the skin. Save a little for the bottom too, and if you have a little left over, drip it inside the cavity as well. Squeeze the half lemon inside the chicken cavity, and leave the squeezed half inside while roasting. At this point, if you like, you can tie the legs together with kitchen twin - or not. Either way works.
Place the chicken in the oven and cook at 500 degrees F for about 18 minutes. Then, turn the heat down to 400 degrees, or 350 if you have more time available. After 40 - 50 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and, in the thickest part of the breast meat, test with a meat thermometer. The temperature must read 160 degrees before you can remove it for resting (as it rests, temperature will rise to a safe 170 degrees). If it's not at 160, pop it back in the oven and cook it a little longer. Once your thermometer reads 160, remove the chicken from the oven and tent it with foil for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, carve it, and eat!
Sara, via her sister, Jill|Home is Where The Cookies Are
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