Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Fragrant Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken
While living in England I got into the habit of making a Sunday roast which was quite often roast chicken. I've tried many variations but one of my favorite remains lemon garlic chicken, it's like a little ray of sunshine on your tounge.
STOP! Step away from the spice cupboard! I didn't say over salted, goes stale while your back is turned, premixed lemon garlic season salts. Real lemons and garlic are essential for this satisfying roast chicken dinner that will have your family and friends begging for more.
· 1 (3- to 4-pound) roasting chicken, necks and giblets removed and discarded, rinsed and patted dry
· 2 lemons, 1 ½ sliced, ½ quartered
· 4-5 cloves of garlic smashed
· 2 Tbsp Uncle Roy's Moffat Meadow flower petal salt or Fragrant Herb Mix or Herbs de Provence
· 4 Potatoes peeled and cubed
· 2 carrots cleaned and diced
· 2-3 stalks of celery
· Salt and Pepper to taste
· Butter or Olive Oil
Ok lets talk about the seasonings. What you're looking for here is a fragrant mix that will be brightened by the juice of the lemons and grounded by the earthiness of the garlic. I used 2 Tbsp "Uncle Roy's Moffat Meadows Flower Herb and Seed Seasoning Salt" which I bought from a village shop when we lived in England. You can order this online but for most people it won't be worth the trouble. I've listed the ingredients below and roughly it's 1 unit of measure of each. The only exceptions being the Rosemary, Sage and Nori (seaweed)which can be overpowering in too great a quantity. I may have underestimated how much you will want of these three but you can always add more where if you start with too much there is no going back. I suggest you make more than is called for here and store it in an empty (well cleaned) spice jar for future use. It's great on fish, potatoes, salads, pasta and all kinds of other stuff. You can include sea salt (the store bought variety includes it) but I prefer to have control of how much salt I use so when I run out I will remake it without the salt.
Fragrant Herb Mix
· 1tsp tarragon
· 1tsp thyme
· ½ tsp sage
· 1tsp dill
· 1 tsp chives
· 1/8 sheet Nori (dried seaweed) finely diced
· 1 tsp each dried marigold, rose and lavender petals (make sure they are food grade)
· 1tsp each poppy sesame, dill and celery seeds
Now if you don't have all that on hand or don't want to go to the trouble just get a nice jar of Herb's de Provence and you'll get a similar flavour.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place chicken on rack set in large roasting pan. Starting at each cavity end, slide hand between skin and breast meat to loosen, being careful not to tear skin. Arrange lemon slices under skin to cover breast meat.
Season the cavity with salt and pepper and 1/2 tbsp of herb mix, stuff with quartered lemons, garlic, and some celery. (I usually use the leafy tops as this will be discarded)
Flip the chicken's wings back and tuck under the body. Rub butter or oil over the skin of the chicken, then rub with 1 1/2 tablespoons of Fragrant Herb Mix, salt and pepper. Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string. Add vegetables to the roasting pan with some chicken stock.
Roast chicken, basting occasionally with pan juices, until skins are crisp golden-brown and juices run clear when thighs are pierced, about 55 to 60 minutes. (Instant read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast should register 170°F.) Remove from oven, then remove lemons, and garlic from cavity and discard. Reserve pan drippings. Transfer chicken to carving board and tent with foil to keep warm.
While the chicken is resting I make some Couscous to serve with this by adding 1cup of hot chicken stock (or 1/2 cup pan juices and 1/2 cup hot water) to 1 cup of couscous. Stir well and cover to rest for 5 minutes.
Carve chicken and serve over a bed of couscous with roasted potatoes celery and carrots. Use pan drippings to make a gravy if desired or simply spoon over chicken and vegetables. You can also eat the lemons rinds and all and you will find that while still tangy they are very tender and can be quite enjoyable.
This recipe is also easily adaptable for use in a crock pot with just a few adjustments. In fact the pictured bird was cooked in the slow cooker and came out beautiful tender and juicy. I prepared the bird as described above except I did not use any butter or oil on the skin prior to putting it in the slow cooker. Arrange your vegetables on the bottom of your cooker, add about 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock (1 small can), arrange your bird on top and set your heat. I left this bird in on low for six hours. (Darn having to work on your day off!!!) When the bird is cooked through (or you get home from work) transfer the bird to a roasting pan, brush with some butter or oil and stick it in a 450 degree oven until the skin is golden and crispy. In the meantime remove the vegetables to a serving dish and pour the cooking juices in a saucepan. Allow it to cool enough for the fat to separate. Skim off most of the fat. The rest of these juices can be reserved for serving as is, made into a gravy or used to baste the chicken until the skin is done. I often take some of the fat and add it to the bottom of the roasting pan and once it is hot I add the potatoes and stir them around to get that lovely caramelized crispy outside for a perfect roast potato.