Several weeks ago, a Facebook friend of mine shared a link to one of those things you should do before you die lists. This list in particular was focused on foods you should eat before your time is up. Alongside a list of exotic dishes and goodies from famous restaurants was a listing for a roast chicken that you made in your own oven.
For a moment, it struck me as sad that knowing how to roast a chicken has now moved into the realm of the exotic. Then, I found myself wondering when had been the last time that I had put in the effort to roast my own chicken. Passing scorn isn’t particularly legitimate if I am just as guilty of not routinely putting my own basic cooking skills into practice.
Whole roasting chickens do feel harder to obtain these days. Most of the fresh chicken available in the supermarkets has already been chopped up to sell in parts. It makes me wonder if the scarcity of whole chickens is to better sell the store’s own rotisserie chickens or if the convenience of those chickens has caused the lack of demand.
As it happens, roasting chickens were on sale at Ralphs this week. I’m fairly sure that had to do with Foster Farms running a damage control exercise after their recent bad publicity. Whatever the reason, I picked up two sizable roaster chickens for just over $7. One went into the freezer and the other I kept out with the idea of forcing myself to practice my chicken roasting skills.
I found a pack of fresh sage in the produce department that had been marked down for a quick sale. Sage pairs well with poultry. I figured it could be the starting point for an idea for my planned roast chicken recipe. In the end, I went for a citrus theme and lemon, garlic, sage and butter mix that was put under the skin of the chicken. Allowing the fresh flavors of the mixture to soak into the chicken as it roasts.
For ages now, I have had a bottle of blood orange olive oil sitting in my cupboard. Seriously, it has been moved to two different apartments and barely been used. Since I was going the citrus path, I decided to use it as the olive oil I used on the chicken skin. It turned out great but a lemon infused oil would have worked well too. As would just a normal olive oil. The lemons bring enough flavor to stand on their own.
Next to the actual tasting, the best part of roasting a chicken has to be the aroma. Over the hour and a bit that the chicken roasted, my stomach began to rumble as a result of the garlicky lemon scent that was filling my small apartment.
Luckily, the roast chicken didn’t just smell good. The flavors had worked their magic to produce depth of flavor that was evident throughout the whole chicken. As good as the citrus flavors tasted fresh out of the oven, they tasted even brighter the next day when I used leftover cold chicken to make a chicken salad.
For sure I am wheeling this citrus and sage roast chicken recipe out on one of Chris’s next visits. I’m pretty certain he’ll enjoy it and if there is anything more satisfying than cooking your own food then it is cooking a good meal for the people you love.
Citrus and Sage Roast Chicken
1 whole roasting chicken, mine was about five pounds in weight
1/2 cup softened butter
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/4 cup fresh sage,finely chopped
1 medium sized garlic clove, minced
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Removed the giblets from the chicken and then rinse off both the inside and outside of the bird. Pat it dry and put into a roasting tin.
Combine the butter, lemon zest and juice,sage,garlic and salt and pepper. Smush it all together until well combined. You can use a fork or get stuck in with your fingers. If you do use your fingers, you may wish to consider gloves because that lemon juice and salt will make a mission of finding even the slightest cuts you may have on your fingers.
Carefully separate the breast skin from the meat of the chicken. Fill the gaps between the two with the butter mixture, taking care not to break the skin. Place the remains of the juiced lemon into the cavity of the chicken.
Finish up by rubbing the olive oil over the surface of the bird and placing in the oven.
Cook until the chicken is properly cooked through and the skin is crispy and golden. In the case of my bird, that took about 1 hour and 15 minutes.