Snowed in!

A big storm is headed our way, so we rolled out of bed and went grocery shopping first thing this morning and were home with a full fridge by 9:00 am. The snow didn’t start in earnest until this afternoon, but as it approached, I asked myself, “What would Martha Stewart do?”

Martha would roast a chicken and try her hand at pear tarte tatin, I decided. The tarte isn’t finished yet—I caramelized the pears and set them aside before starting dinner—but the chicken was a success.

My approach to roast chicken is derived from my mom’s recipe and Simon Hopkinson’s recipe. The main Hopkinson influence is also my favorite part of the recipe: I use a whole lemon instead of half, as many other recipes call for. It infuses the finished chicken—but especially the juices, which I serve as a gravy alongside the chicken—with a fragrant lemony aroma that is strong but not overpowering. I also follow his advice and dispense with a roasting rack and carve the chicken right in the pan. So easy! Less mess! No need to worry about where you’ll store the rack in your overcrowded 1957 kitchen!*

You can roast potatoes in the pan with the chicken if you want. Peel them and cut into small wedges and toss with olive oil before nesting them in the pan around the chicken. They might take a bit longer to cook than the chicken itself, but you can avoid this by parboiling them a bit before they go into the oven. I have a confession: I don’t usually bother with the potatoes, because I think they’re too much trouble. They are very good if you feel like making them.

Roast Chicken

1 chicken, 3-5 pounds (do not buy the huge chicken labeled as a “roaster,” but do buy an organic or kosher chicken, for the flavor and your conscience)
1 lemon
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
1 or 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
olive oil (regular, not extra virgin)
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees or so.

Rinse the chicken and remove the giblets if they’re inside. Pat the chicken dry and place in a roasting pan large enough to fit the chicken with some room to spare.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from both halves over the chicken. Drizzle olive oil generously over the chicken and sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Stuff the lemon halves, garlic, and rosemary inside the chicken.

Roast the chicken for 15-20 minutes, then baste and turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Roast, basting every 15 to 20 minutes, for another hour or so until the chicken is done. A larger chicken—on the five-pound end of the spectrum—will take longer than a smaller one, and the timing depends on your oven (mine runs hot). You’ll know the chicken done when the skin is golden and crispy and the legs move freely when you jiggle them with a baster, wooden spoon, or whatever cooking implement you have on hand.**

Remove the pan and cool on a rack or trivet for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour out the accumulated pan juices into a small pitcher. Carve the chicken and serve with the pan juice and sides of your choice.***

*I do own a roasting rack. It’s in a drawer somewhere. It came with a Corningware roasting pan that I got from my grandmother—I think.

**I know this is probably criminal, but I’ve never roasted a chicken with the aid of an instant-read thermometer, or any type of thermometer. If you time it carefully, you’ll be safe, but the leg-jiggling thing really works. If in doubt, go with that over time.

***Tonight for sides we had leftover mashed potatoes and asparagus sauteed in olive oil with an onion and red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Anything that will soak up the pan juices is a good bet. Potatoes are always a hit.

3 Responses to “Snowed in!”
  1. Jeff'y says:

    Spatchcocking? It’s easy to remove the spine with kitchen shears and the birds cooks quicker and more evenly when laid flat. Plus, spatchcocking!

    • Katy says:

      But can I get the chicken pre-spatchcocked? Knowing my butcher, the answer is probably yes. Whether they’ll send it to me in a FedEx mailer with a hook through its back is another story.

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  1. […] be a big cooking week. I got off to a great start—chicken pot pie, two kinds of cookies, the big snowed in meal, pasta alla norma—and then I got sick on Monday night. The kind of sick where I ate mostly […]

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