Roast Chicken for a Rainy Night
I try and get together with my best girlfriends a couple times a month for dinner, with plenty of wine, lots of stories, and usually at least one squeal-inducing announcement. We’ve toasted each others’ engagements, new marriages, new jobs, new apartments, and pregnancies, and helped each other through the rough spots as well: breakups, job losses, marriage troubles, moves, and illness. Our times together are absolutely integral to living life in crazy New York City–we always leave our dinners feeling a little lighter in spirit, and feeling blessed to have sisters with whom to share our journeys.[recipe:best-roast-chicken-lemon-thyme-shallots-recipe]
We usually alternate apartments, but last night was my night to host and I was completely stumped on what to make. (Funny, you’d think with a new blog, I should be overflowing with ideas!) I had originally planned to make something Provencal–grilled sea bass with a green bean and heirloom tomato salad. Then I walked outside and was hit with a chilly blast of rain. Ugh. Not exactly the eat-on-the-terrace sort of evening I was hoping for.[recipe:best-roasted-baby-potatoes-recipe]
As I walked to the grocery store huddled under my broken umbrella, I completely revamped my menu. This was definitely not the night for grilled fish and rose. A cold, rainy night calls for comfort food, I thought, and there is nothing cozier than a golden roast chicken and potatoes. And a nice green salad with Dijon vinaigrette…and perhaps an earthy Cotes du Rhone... By the time I arrived at the store, I was grabbing ingredients like a woman on a mission: fresh thyme, shallots, baby potatoes, salad greens, and an Amish farm-raised chicken (a happy chicken tastes better, right?). I barely felt the rain on my walk home, imagining how delicious the apartment would smell when everybody arrived.
This meal was a big hit. The chicken came out perfectly crisp and golden (check out the technique in the recipe), and needed no other sauce than the delicious pan juices. Roasted potatoes, seasoned with just a little olive oil and some sea salt, and a green salad rounded out the rainy night dinner. But honestly, we were having so much fun sitting around the yellow table, talking and laughing, we probably could have eaten anything and still had a great evening.
HOW TO ROAST A CHICKEN
In my opinion, the best way to roast a chicken is on really high heat (450 degrees F) for a shorter amount of time (about an hour), rather than lower heat for longer. The high heat makes the skin perfectly crisp and golden, and the meat turns out phenomenally juicy.
There’s a million ways to season a chicken, but I say the simpler, the better. I like to throw in some lemon and shallot wedges and fresh thyme to the cavity, but you can use onion or another herb like marjoram or oregano–this will infuse the chicken with a wonderful lemony-herb flavor. Rub a little butter all over the bird and season it with sea salt, pepper, and some fresh thyme. Now for the fun part: trussing. (Trust me, it sounds worse than it actually is).
Basically, trussing is a fancy word for “tying.” You will need about two feet of butcher’s twine to tie the drumsticks together and to secure them to the side of the bird. Once your twine is tied, tuck the wings underneath the bird. (There are plenty of good YouTube instructional videos on this…I will eventually put one in my How-To section!) Why do you need to truss? Not only does trussing make for a better presentation, it helps the bird roast evenly. A trussed chicken–with everything tucked and tied in to the sides–holds in the heat and allows the bird to cook evenly throughout.
Once your chicken is seasoned and trussed, place the chicken in a roasting pan or ovenproof sauté pan, scatter extra shallots in the pan, and roast for about an hour (depending on the size of your bird) or until golden brown. A thermometer inserted into the deepest portion of the thigh should 165 degrees F.
Let the meat rest about 15 minutes before carving, then serve your chicken pieces on a platter, drizzled with the pan juices, roasted shallots, and roasted potatoes (recipe below). Voila! A perfect rainy night dinner.