For a Sunday dinner, a roast chicken is always a crowd-pleaser. This roast chicken, which is stuffed and cooked over a bed of onions and potatoes, is my favorite way to do it. There are "three-Bs" to follow when roasting a chicken: Brining, Butter and Basting. Follow these rules, don't rush anything, and you will have a chicken that is crispy, juicy, and is sure to be a favorite. I've been making this for years, and I simply haven't found a chicken recipe that I like more. —lechef
For the Chicken
fresh chopped rosemary
fresh chopped sage
fresh chopped thyme
red potatoes, cut into 8-10 pieces each
large spanish onion, cut into wedges
cloves of garlic, peeled
baby artichokes (optional, 1 per person)
salt and pepper
For the Stuffing
a french baguette, cut into slices and left out overnight. Or, if you're in a rush, toasted.
The first (and easiest) step to making a great roast chicken is the brining process. A brine is simply salted (and sugared) water that the chicken will soak in for between 1-5 hours prior to cooking. As soon as you are ready to begin cooking and you've bought your bird, get it brining. In a pot large enough to hold the chicken, fill halfway with water and add 1/2 cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar per gallon of water. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar, and put your bird into the brine. Simple. Brining keeps the bird moist during cooking (along with the butter rub and the basting we will be doing, we're maximizing tenderness). For a crispier skin remove the bird from the brine about 1 hour before cooking and allow it to dry in the refrigerator, uncovered. This will also aid in getting your herb butter onto the bird.
In a roasting pan with a rack, arrange the potatoes, onions and garlic in the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and give a liberal seasoning with salt and pepper. The potatoes and onions will cook in the chicken drippings and will be absolutely wonderful. Trust me on this one.
Make the stuffing: Pulse the French bread in a food processor to make crumbs. I like to leave my stuffing with some nice bread chunks in it, but that choice is up to you. Saute the mushrooms in butter until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the mushrooms (and any butter left in the pan), celery, parsley, salt and pepper to the breadcrumbs. Mix to combine. If they seem dry (i.e., if your mushrooms sucked up all of your butter) feel free to add a bit of olive oil to get the stuffing to a good consistency. You don't want them to be mushy, but they should hold together well enough to form a good ball without crumbling apart.
Remove any giblets that may be in the cavity of the chicken. Stuff the bird.
Prepare the herb butter: combine the rosemary, sage, and thyme with the softened butter, and mix together. Now, here is where you will really get your hands dirty. The herbed butter needs to go underneath the skin of the bird. There is really no way to do this without coating your hands in butter and chicken juices, so just get right in there. Work your fingers underneath the skin, push that butter mixter as far down as you can, and get a nice layer of herbed butter spread out across the whole bird. Rub any extra over the outside of the skin. This will all melt during the cooking, basting the bird from the inside, and will leave the skin crispy and seasoned.
Heat your oven to 350, and cook the bird for about 40 minutes a pound. Baste every 30 minutes after the first hour. My supermarket had some great little artichokes for sale, so I picked up one per person and threw them into the bottom of the pan with about an hour to go. You can really roast any vegetable you want with the chicken.
Turn the heat up to 450 for the last 10 minutes to crisp the skin. A meat thermometer should read 165 when inserted into the thigh.
Slice, serve with the stuffing and potatoes. Spoon extra herbed butter over the chicken. Enjoy!