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Author Notes: This chicken reflects the accumulated wisdom of many years and many sources, from mother to Martha to Alice (Waters). Roasting it on a bed of shallots is a technique swiped from my Thanksgiving turkey; it helps the bird cook evenly--plus you can make a delicious gravy from the juice-infused shallots. You can lard the flesh under the skin with butter and any combination of herbs and aromatics, but I think the classic mix of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme with citrus zest is just about perfect. —gluttonforlife
- 1 4-lb free-range red cockerel, or other well-bred roaster, at room temp
- 1 dozen shallots
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 lemons, quartered (preferably Meyer)
- 2 sprigs each: parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 tablespoon each: parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme, finely minced
- finely grated zest from 1 lemon (preferably Meyer)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Wash chicken and dry it very thoroughly, then leave it uncovered in a cool, drafty spot as you prepare the other ingredients.
- Peel the shallots and cut them in half. Toss with the olive oil and a teaspoon of salt and line the bottom of a roasting pan with them. (Pan should be only slightly larger than the chicken.)
- In a small bowl, combine the minced herbs, lemon zest and butter and mix well.
- Rub the chicken cavity with salt, then stuff it with the lemons, herb sprigs and garlic. Carefully separate the skin from the chicken’s breasts and thighs and smear a thin layer of the herb butter underneath the skin, covering as much surface area as possible. Generously salt the exterior of the chicken and truss it.
- Pour the wine over the bed of shallots, and set the chicken comfortably on top. Sprinkle the breast area with a few pinches of pimentón. Roast for about 75 minutes, basting with pan juices once or twice.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, take it out of the pan and let it rest on a platter for 15 minutes so the juices can settle.
- Meanwhile, pour the shallots and any pan juices into a food processor and make a smooth puree. Add the sherry, and salt and pepper to taste. If the gravy needs thinning, stir in a little chicken stock, any remaining juices from the chicken, some light cream or water.
- Carve the chicken and pass the shallot gravy on the side.