Ah, roast chicken, comfort food and so easy to make. Of course you can just go buy one from the grocery store… or you could fill your house with the scent of roasting chicken and treat the ones you love to something homemade. I made mine in a Romertopf, a clay roaster with a lid that you soak before using, but you can make it in any covered roasting dish. The Romertopft keeps the chicken really moist, and you can just throw the chicken with some herbs, potatoes and veggies into your oven and forget about it while you get other parts of the meal ready.
What you need:
a chicken, preferably free-range
1-2 tablespoons room temperature butter (or olive oil)
thyme (preferably fresh)
rosemary (preferably fresh)
sage (preferably fresh)
1 head of garlic
small potatoes halved
pearl onions, or a large onion cut into chunks
dry white wine, optional
What you do:
1. If you are using a Romertopf soak it for at least 15-20 minutes before using. This provides some moisture for the cooking process, and keeps the roaster from cracking.
2. Spread the butter all over the skin of the chicken.
3. In a bowl combine a little of each of the thyme, rosemary, paprika and pepper, and a liberal amount of salt. Rub this into the skin of the chicken. If you have fresh sage or thyme you can put some under the breast skin, along with a few cloves of garlic.
4. Distribute the potatoes and a few onions in a layer on the bottom of the roaster, then place the chicken on them, breast side up. If you have any more potatoes and onions you can put them in around the edges of the chicken with the rest of the garlic. If you have some white wine on hand you can add a few splashes of that.
5. Place the cover on the roaster, then put it in a cold oven – this is important to prevent the romertopf from cracking when it goes into a hot oven. If you are using a different roaster you can preheat the oven. Turn the temperature to 4ooF and set the timer for 1 & 1/2 hours. You can leave it to cook without peeking; this will help keep all the moisture inside.
6. After the 1 & 1/2 hours of cooking time, remove the roaster from the oven. Test to see if it’s cooked all the way through by cutting into the leg joint to see if the juices run clear. If not, return it to the oven for a little longer. As well, if the skin doesn’t look browned, pop it back in without the lid and let it brown a little. Once it is done let it sit with the cover on for about 20 minutes before carving. I like to ladle a little of the juices over the chicken, and you could also make a gravy with the juices.
I keep the bones and excess juices in the freezer for a day when I want to make a stock.