Monday, February 2, 2009

Lazy Weekend: How to Roast a Chicken

So today, I was thinking that perhaps we could talk food. See, I like to cook - a lot. But I also like to read books, catch up on the ol' DVR, and being lazy. Weekends especially tend to beg for that.
Ideally, you can do both, if you pick the right thing. Saturday or Sunday can be your lazy day and your impressive feast day if you just pick things that can be cooked with little supervision, for a long time.
So this week, I'll tell you how I make a roast chicken that looks quite lovely, tastes even better, and doesn't require a lot of kitchen time. You can serve it with a nice salad, or go completely homestyle and make mashed potatoes, gravy, and a veggie or two, depending on how deeply you wish to plumb the depths of your inner sloth.
Perfectly Roasted Chicken
Roasting chicken (a whole fryer will work, too)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp lemon pepper - not the neon yellow kind, but the kind you can buy at Whole Foods
1 lemon, quartered
1 small onion, in eighths
1/4 cup olive oil
First, you need to take anything that might be in the cavity of the chicken out. Then rinse chicken with cold water, inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels before preparing.
Lightly salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Put the lemon and the onion inside the cavity, then tie the legs together with twine. Any leftover onion or lemon can be placed in your roasting pan to flavor the juices.
Brush (or spray, if you have one of those fancy olive oil spray doohickeys) a very light coating of olive oil on the outside of the bird and put it in the roasting pan. In a bowl, mix the salt, pepper, lemon pepper, rosemary, garlic powder and onion powder together. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the chicken.
Roast at 350 degrees for 2 1/2 hours or so, depending on how big your chicken is. I like to look for the legs and wings to be falling away from the bird. Tent some aluminum foil over the roasting pan for the first 1 1/2 hours, then take it away so the skin can get crispy. Baste every half hour to 45 minutes, using the pan juices (the first baste may not have enough of that, so use some olive oil. Yes, I know butter may be what your granny uses, but I don't have time to give advice on performing your own angioplasty.)
Take the chicken out when done, and let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
The Method: The lemon in the cavity works as a steam cooker, which means the chicken stays extra tender and juicy. This whole thing will also work well on a turkey. When I do that, I double the amounts on the spices required, and use oranges instead of lemons.
The nice thing about this is that leftover meat can be used for soup later that week, or even the next day in quesadillas, chicken fettuccine, salads, or fajitas.