A simple roasted chicken is one of my very favorite things. I almost always order it when I'm reviewing restaurants, because my feeling is that if a chef can't roast a chicken properly, there's not much hope for the rest of his/her food.
This recipe - based on one I saw on the Food Network - is proof of just how simple it is to roast a chicken with tender, juicy meat and a beautifully browned skin. Once the chicken is in the oven, there's really nothing else to do - no basting, adjusting temperatures, etc. It couldn't be easier.
Please note that this recipe calls for a fairly large chicken: 5-6 pounds. If you use a smaller one you'll need to adjust the cooking time.
1 large roasting chicken, 5-6 lbs, giblets removed
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut in half
1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
1 bunch of thyme, a dozen or so sprigs set aside for the veggies
2 sprigs rosemary
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
10-12 small shallots, peeled
1 fennel bulb bottom, sliced into bite-size chunks
2 carrots, sliced into 1-inch chunks
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Generously salt and pepper the chicken, inside and out.
Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the bunch of thyme, rosemary, lemon and garlic, squeezing some of the lemon juice on the outside of the chicken before inserting.
Tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken and tie the legs together with kitchen string.
In a roasting pan, place the shallots, carrots, fennel and reserved thyme sprigs. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss lightly and spread the veggies evenly on the bottom of the pan.
Brush the chicken, top and bottom, with the melted butter.
Place the chicken breast side up on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.
Put the chicken into the oven and roast for approximately 1 1/2 hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F.
Remove the chicken from the oven and tent with aluminum foil for about 15 minutes to allow the chicken to cool slightly and the juices to redistribute.
Carve the chicken and enjoy with the roasted vegetables.
Photos by Ted Scheffler