~ This Woman's Way to Roast the Perfect Chicken + My Stressfree "Carving for Dummies" Methodology ~
Rotisserie chicken is not my "gig". It takes all the sport out of cooking. I roast chickens. I have roasted many chickens in my life, and, I've been roasting chickens since before some of you were born. I've never served roasted chicken to a guest that didn't mention how moist and perfectly cooked it was and ask how in the world I got it that way. Everyone and anyone who cooks has an opinion on roasting chicken, and, mine is quite basic: two chickens, two hours.
"You can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by roast chicken." ~ Julia Child
Like Julia, Joe and I never seem to tire of chicken. She went on to tell us she fed it to her husband for weeks at a time, and, she personally could go on eating it forever. That may sound a bit extreme, but, if you've ever opened your refrigerator looking for a quick nosh and saw a plate of carved, roasted chicken, I'm betting that'd be your first choice. It would be mine. I could eat sandwiches forever, and: chicken, lettuce, tomato and mayo is one of my favorites.
Aside from "specialty", cured meats like salami and pastrami, I rarely buy deli-meat. Having raised three boys (and one husband), I've packed more than my share of lunches. It has always been my practice to "pop a roast in the oven" on a Sunday afternoon for the sole purpose of weekday sandwiches. Be it chicken, turkey, beef or ham, my family's sandwiches were and still are the real-deal. Seriously, nothing could be easier. The oven does all the work.
2 6-pound roasting chickens, as close in size as possible, at semi-room temperature (Note: Any chicken in the 5 3/4-pound to 6 1/4-pound range will work. Size does affect cooking time, so, try to stick to this size. Also, don't expect chicken straight out of the refrigerator to roast properly. The only thing a cold chicken placed in a hot oven will do is lower the oven temperature. I let mine sit on the countertop for about an hour prior to roasting.)
1 medium-sized yellow or sweet onion, peeled and cut in half
1 apple, unpeeled and cut in half
2 large celery stalks, cut into 2" pieces
freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend
~ Step 1. Place birds, breast side up, on a large rack inserted in a large roasting pan to which 1/4" of water has been added. I use an inexpensive disposable aluminum pan with a flat cooling rack inserted. Use any kind of pan and rack, but the birds must be elevated so they are not touching the water. This is a 20" x 12" x 6" pan fitted with a 17 1/2" x 12" cooling rack.
Note: Water in the bottom of the pan keeps the chicken fat from burning as it drips to the bottom.
Note: The aromatic vegetables are not meant to be eaten. They are placed in the cavity to impart flavor and moisture to the birds.
~ Step 3. Roast on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 2 hours, or 20 minutes per pound.
Note: Call me crazy, but you can't carve a bird that is to hot to handle with your hands.
~ Step 5. Now that the breast meat has been safely removed, you can "tackle" the leg-thigh portions. Without the breasts in place, the much-lighter carcass is easily maneuvered so you can easily locate the joint where the thighbone attaches to the bottom of the carcass. You can cut through the joint with a cleaver or a pair of poultry shears, but, for me, one quick twist with my hand removes it.
I've also got two nice, meaty chicken carcasses to process for soup stock.
Say it. "This is one handsome platter of roasted chicken!"
Special Equipment List: 20" x 12" x 6" disposable aluminum roasting pan; 17 1/2" x 12" cooling rack; cutting board; chef's knife; poultry shears (optional)
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)