Roasting a chicken is one of those quintessential things you are supposed to be able to do if you consider yourself a cook. I have a confession to make. I have been cooking for around 8 years now and I have never made a good roast chicken. That is until now.
One of my problems is that I refuse to use recipes. It feels like cheating to me. It doesn’t feel like you have learned anything, just memorized something. Because of that, the first few chickens I roasted came out sad and flabby and I stopped roasting chickens. Since then I have read a lot more about roasting chicken, and while this attempt still wasn’t perfect, it was a vast improvement and created the best potatoes I have ever had in my life.
Roast Chicken and Potatoes
1 chicken -unsure of weight
Potatoes -enough to create a bed for the chicken
Salt – 1 cup + 2 tablespoons
Baking Soda – 1 Tablespoon
Water – Enough to cover chicken
Pepper, Parsley, Lemon and Garlic – For stuffing the cavity and seasoning
1. Starting with the chicken, I buy my free range, organic chicken from a farmer. While the chicken does taste more “chicken-y” than the grocery store variety, the main difference I have found is the amount of fat. Farmer chicken has much more.
2. 48 hrs in advance, brine the chicken. I place the chicken in a pot, add water until chicken is covered, remove the chicken and mix in a cup (give or take) of salt, and then stir. No need to heat it, the salt dissolved just fine, and I don’t add any other flavors because I’m not really using this as a flavoring as much as to trap moisture in the cells and give me less of a chance of over cooking.
3. 24 hours in advance, remove chicken from brine and dry thoroughly. Once chicken is very dry create a rub of 2 Tblspns salt and 1 Tblspn baking soda. This is to desiccate the chicken skin and really give you thin, crispy skin. Rub this all over the chicken skin. Return to the fridge uncovered.
4. Preheat the oven to 375, remove the chicken from the fridge. Using a knife cut a bunch of slits in the chickens back to allow the fat to escape as the chicken cooks. Stuff the chicken cavity with a halved lemon, a few cloves of crushed garlic and a bunch of parsley.
5. Cut up your potatoes (I used fingerling because it is what I had) and create a bed for the chicken in your roasting pan. Place the chicken on its back on top of the potatoes
6. Roast chicken for 25 minutes at 375, turn up heat to 475 and roast for another 25 minutes, turn off heat and let cook for 10 more minutes or until the thigh registers 180.
7. Move the chicken to a carving board and let rest, move the potatoes (golden and crisp on the pan side) to a serving bowl add salt if desired, pepper and chopped parsley.
The brining plus salt rub results in a pretty salty chicken. That’s how I like my chicken, if you don’t I would reduce or eliminate the salt rub. Yes, this recipe involves a lot of advance prep, and not all of it is worth it. Going forward I will remove the baking soda, it left a little bit of a baking soda flavor, the skin on the back turns out soft from sitting on the potatoes, and I think that the salt plus 24 hours in the fridge uncovered will do enough to dry the skin. Finally, I’m not sure what I added by putting lemon, garlic and parsley inside, next time I’ll leave it out and see what type of difference it makes.
Here is a close up of the chicken skin where the thigh meets the body that shows the tissue paper like consistency the skin had.