This is a story about chicken. And a recipe for your reading reward.
Yes, that’s right, of the poultry variety.
As a young girl, I loved the smell and taste of delicious, buttery, roast chicken. When we went to the grocery store, I’d practically beg my mom to walk over by the deli area just so I could catch a whiff of their chickens turning around in the oven.
Lucky for me, my dad also shared this love for rotisserie and roast chicken. Whenever my mom wasn’t home or he felt like “making dinner”, he’d bring home a nice juicy chicken from the store, much to the joy of my salivating taste buds. I always called the drumstick and woe to anyone who tried taking it from me.
Once I was married and making meals of my own, I dreamed of roasting my own bird just like the ones in the store. To my great dismay – and to my poor husband’s and family’s – I just couldn’t quite figure out how to cook a whole fryer, or any type of chicken, without it coming out as dry and bland as a piece of chewy cardboard. So I gave up and have stuck to beef or frozen prepared chicken.
But then my friend, Mary of the hilariously down-to-earth Mary Big Hair blog, practically bribed me to help redesign her blog with free chickens that her and her husband and my other friends raised. As if she had to even ask! I was giddy with excitement and could sit and redesign blogs all day if only I didn’t have to feed people.
So, now I had two whole headless, plucked chickens to somehow turn into something edible. The sight of a whole fryer chicken had become so foreign in our house that every time someone opened the freezer they’d ask, “Why are there turkeys in our freezer?”
I knew I needed to do something with them – they couldn’t stay in our freezer forever, right? But I was too intimated given my failed past attempts with poultry cooking.
However, last night a miracle occurred. After a little over twelve years as domesticated “housewife”, I finally graduated to Master Housewife status and roasted a chicken successfuly!
There are two crucial lessons I learned that lead to my successful juicy roast chicken.
1. Apparently it’s all in the brine.
2. Roasting in the oven vs. the crockpot is way better.
Ok, blah, blah, blah. Here is the amazingly wonderful but super easy – even for me –
First, here is how you need to brine the chicken. (I did this the night before cooking.)
Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Dissolve 1 c. salt in 4 quarts water, or enough to cover the chicken. Submerge the chicken in the brine, covering completely, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 8 hours. Remove from brine and pat dry.
Ingredients for Roasting the Chicken after brining
¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil (I used butter because I can’t stand olive oil.)
1 4-5 lb. roasting chicken, brined
5 cloves minced garlic 1 lemon
1 bunch fresh rosemary Salt and pepper (I used dried basil since that’s all I had.)
Directions for after you Brine. Be sure to read the directions in their entirety. Total cooking time is 1 HOUR and 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450. Rub the olive oil and 3 of the minced garlic cloves over the outside of the chicken. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze half over the outside, and then place inside the cavity of the chicken with the rosemary and remaining garlic. Sprinkle the bird with salt and pepper. Place chicken in a heavy roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes. Then turn oven down to 350 and bake for an additional hour, or until done.
Check to make sure the bottom is cooked through and then bring it out of the oven and stand back and admire your beautiful roast chicken. Lastly, eat and enjoy every single piece of juicy, buttery, melt-in-your mouth chicken.
A few notes:
In my usual state of haste and distraction, I only read “bake for 30 minutes”, so dinner took a little longer than I’d originally planned. I underlined and italicized the part about baking it for an additional hour to spare you from the same fate.
Because of my inability to read through the directions all the way, we ate something else for dinner earlier in the evening. But then, when it was done, suddenly everyone was hungry again so we all tried some and it took all our efforts not to sit there and eat the whole thing up like a bunch of greedy barbarians.
We ate most of the rest tonight for dinner, though it wasn’t as good as when it first came out, it was still pretty good. I served it up with some of the Pioneer Woman’s heavenly mashed potatoes.
And there you have it, folks. The story of how I finally mastered the chicken.