Sunday was a quiet day here in NH, one that required lazy watching of the snow fall while drinking a French press and catching up on forgotten household chores. It was also the last day before our friend Paolo returned to Italy. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to roast a chicken since it requires little work and few dishes, but also because it is one of my favorite comfort foods for a wintry day.
While a roasted chicken might seem like a common and mundane thing to blog about, it’s one of the things that gives me the most pleasure to make. I love the warmth from the oven, the herbed and seasoned bird becoming fragrant throughout the apartment, whetting the appetite. A perfectly roasted chicken is something to be admired, cherished even. But anyone can roast a chicken, right? I suppose, however, creating a roasted chicken with beautifully browned and crisp skin? A flavorful, tender and juicy bird that makes you sigh with anticipation? It takes a person who loves to eat just as much as they love to cook. I’ve personally eaten many a bland and disappointing bird which is surprisingly common given the variety of flavors and methods one can do with a roasted chicken. Everyone has their secret to success: some like to roast, stuff and serve it with gravy like a traditional thanksgiving meal, while others stick it on a beer can and roast it on a grill. Martha Stewart might tie the bird up beautifully with twine and serve it on a platter with pureed parsnips and a frisee salad for a formal dinner party. While all valid and delicious sounding ways of serving up a chicken, I never do any of that. I find the most success when I season the inside of the bird, smear a tablespoon of butter under the skin of the breast, then another few tablespoons over the skin of the entire bird and season well. I let my bird roast splay legged in my beloved cast iron skillet on high heat and I baste. I baste often. And it’s always delicious.
Our Sunday dinner turned out beautifully. We started with Prosecco and pigs in a blanket, the classiest American appetizer I could think of. For our chicken, we opened a California Pinot Noir and I sliced up a baguette to sop up all the flavorful jus, made a cauliflower gratin and a simple green salad to go with.
That officially wraps up The Beginning. I'm giddy. :)
Sunday Roasted Chicken
1 whole chicken
4 cloves garlic
1 sweet onion, quartered
½ fresh lemon, quartered
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400
Wash and dry the chicken. Season the inside of the chicken with salamoia Bolognese and pepper, throw two garlic cloves crushed in skin, a quarter of the sweet onion and a quarter of the lemon into the cavity.
Place chicken in a cast iron skillet or shallow roasting pan, rub one tablespoon of butter under the skin of the breast and the remainder over the rest of the chicken. Season with salamoia Bolognese and black pepper, add remaining garlic, onion quarters and sliced lemon to the skillet and roast uncovered for 20 minutes.
Turn heat down to 375, rotate and baste. Loosely cover bird with foil then roast, continuing to baste every 20 minutes until juices run clear or a thermometer registers 165 in the thickest part of the leg. Approximately 40-50 minutes more depending on the size of the bird. Tent the bird with aluminum foil and let rest 10 minutes or so before carving.
*Salamoia Bolognese is an Italian seasoning salt literally translated as Bolognese brine, and found in the states as Seasonello. Traditionally it is made with sea salt, rosemary, sage, black pepper and garlic but can be varied with red pepper flakes or lemon zest. It’s something I always have in my cupboard and could possibly be one of the greatest things known to man. I haven’t done a homemade version yet but it is simple enough to do and I plan to post a recipe for it at some point in the very near future. If you can't find or don't want to use the salamoia feel free to use any type of salt, or salt mixture that tickles your fancy. Some coarse fleur de sel or truffle salt would be just as delicious in its place.