Mom always told me “If you can roast a chicken, you can serve ‘Sunday Dinner’ to ANYone – even the Queen of England!” , and I still believe it’s true. A properly roasted chicken is so easy to prepare, and always SO delicious – brown, crispy skin and juicy, succulent meat. And it makes the house smell SO good! It's also my all-time favorite road trip food. I love it cold as much as hot from the oven. My favorite story about this recipe though happened right after my book, "Feastivals Cooks at Home" was published. I was invited to be on a local radio show. I had sent the host a copy of my book to peruse. The morning of the interview the host surprised me with the news that she had made this chicken recipe for her family the night before, and they had declared that it was even better than Julia Child's! —ChefJune
organic, free-range roasting chicken, 5 to 6 pounds
exra virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
whole heads plump fresh garlic, cut in half horizontally
several sprigs each fresh rosemary, thyme, marjoram, lavender leaves
cold water or white wine (to baste the chicken)
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Start by rinsing the chicken inside and out with cold running water. Drain it well and dry inside and out with paper towels. Make a mixture of about 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper and 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt in a small bowl. Place the bowl alongside a shallow 9 x 14-inch roasting pan. Put the olive oil in the pan and distribute evenly. You will also need a 3-foot length of kitchen string.
Put the chicken into the pan and turn to coat well with the olive oil. Season it generously, inside and out with salt and pepper. Put about half of the herbs inside the cavity. Truss with string.
Place the chicken on its side in the pan. Put the halved garlic heads (cut side up) and the remainder of the herbs into the pan alongside the chicken. Place the pan on a rack in the center of the oven and roast, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Baste the chicken with the water and roast for another 25 minutes. Baste again – this time with the juices in the pan -- turn the chicken to the other side, and repeat the process. This will take a total of 90 minutes roasting time. By this time the skin should be a deep golden color. Test to see if the juices run clear when you pierce a thigh with the point of a knife.
Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the chicken to a platter on which you have placed an overturned salad plate. Place the chicken at an angle against the edge of the plate with its tail in the air. (This retains moisture because the juices flow down through the breast meat.) Cover the chicken loosely with foil. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes. The chicken will continue to cook as it rests. Reserve the roasted garlic to serve with the chicken.
To prepare a sauce, remove the herbs from the pan and skim as much fat as possible from the pan juices. Place the roasting pan over medium heat and scrape up any brown bits that cling to the bottom. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping and stirring until the liquid is almost caramelized. Do not let it burn. Spoon off and discard any excess fat. Add several tablespoons cold water to deglaze (hot water would cloud the sauce), and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, carve the chicken and arrange it on a warmed serving platter along with the garlic.
Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve and pour into a sauceboat. Serve immediately with the chicken and the halved heads of garlic