Thursday, December 25, 2008

Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes

Source: The New Best Recipe

First of all, I know I have already posted a recipe as "Best Chicken Ever," but if I had to pick one to compete, this would be it.

My favorite thing about my New Best Recipe cookbook is the FLAVOR each dish ends up having. The flavors for the chicken melded nicely, and neither the garlic nor the rosemary were overpowering. They just...were. It was divine.

But backing up a bit, this is the first year my husband and I have been on our own for Christmas. I didn't want to do a giant spread, but I wanted to have a few good dishes. So after thinking about it, these were the dishes I decided on:

Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes
Green bean casserole (my husband's favorite)
Pioneer Woman's Whiskey Glazed Carrots
Side salad

Overall, it's not very much, but I make maybe two simple dishes, max, per meal, so I knew the key to making this was to prepare as much as possible in advance. So early Christmas morning, I prepared the chicken brine, and while the chicken was soaking, I made the green bean casserole and put it in the fridge, cut the carrots, and sliced the potatoes, then put everything back into the fridge until it was time to start cooking the bird.

Also, I had planned to cook both the chicken and the green bean casserole at the same time. Turns out our oven only has one rack, which I figured out as I was about to put the chicken in. So I cooked the casserole first, covered it, and then cooked the bird. Once that was done, I put the casserole back in and heated it for about 10 minutes. It worked out perfectly. But I do need a new rack!

Also, in reading The New Best Recipe, one thing they talked about was a V-rack for roasting a bird. Instead of just laying the chicken in a roasting pan, it cooks much better if it can be elevated and the air can circulate around it constantly--plus, the bottom of the chicken doesn't soak in the drippings. I have a Calphalon stainless steel roasting pan which came with a V-rack, but I'm pretty sure you can purchase them seperately.

On a last note: brining. This flavor brine results in a VERY tasty and moist chicken, but the downside to brining is your chicken may lack a crisy skin. The solution to that is to brine as early as a day in advance and then let the chicken air out in the fridge, in a pan with a rack, or turning every so often and patting dry. My chicken aired out for about 5 hours before I cooked it, and the skin was pretty good.

I had also kind of thought of the potatoes as a "throwaway" dish. I mean, nice and all, but nothing mind-blowing. However, I really enjoyed them! They ended up being a whole seperate side dish, lightly seasoned with the salt, pepper, garlic, and chicken drippings. Yum!

I was pretty pleased with my first Christmas dinner. Other than almost lighting the kitchen on fire...but that's a story for my whiskey glazed carrots recipe!

Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes

1/2 cup of table salt
10 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), trimmed of excess fat, chicken rinsed and patted dry, giblets removed and reserved for another use

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 pounds red or Yukon gold potatoes
10 cloves unpeeled garlic cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine the salt, garlic, and rosemary in a zipper-lock bag; seal, pressing out the air. With a meat pounder or rolling pin, pound the garlic cloves until crushed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, stockpot, or Dutch oven and stir in 2 cups of hot water; let stand 10 minutes to release flavors. Add 1 1/2 quarts cold water and stir until the salt is dissolved. Immerse the chicken in the brine, cover, and refrigerate 1 hour. (I had a 6 pound bird, so I let it sit for an hour and a half.)

2. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Set a V-rack in a small roasting pan and lightly spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray.

3. FOR THE PASTE: Stir the rosemary, garlic, salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the oil together in a small bowl. Rub about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the paste in the cavity of the chicken. Carefully loosen the skin over the breast and thigh on each side (I had to make a small cut in the skin): slip half of the remaining paste under the skin on each side of the breast, then, using your fingers, distribute the paste over the breast and thigh by rubbing the surface of the skin. Tie the end of the drumsticks together with kitchen twine and tuck the wings behind the back. Rub all sides of the chicken with 2 teaspoons of the oil and season with pepper. Set the chicken, breast-side down, on the prepared V-rack and roast 15 minutes.

4. FOR THE POTATOES: While the chicken is roasting, quarter 1 1/2 pounds of red or Yukon gold potatoes; toss the potatoes, 10 unpeeled garlic cloves, 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl. After the chicken has roasted 15 minutes, scatter the mixture in a single layer in the roasting pan and roast for another 15 minutes.

5. Remove the roasting pan from the oven; decrease the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Using tongs or wads of paper towels, rotate the chicken breast-side up, brush the breast with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Stir the potatoes. Continue to roast until the chicken is medium golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast and thigh registers about 160 to 170 degrees, respectively, 20 to 25 minutes, adding more water to the roasting pan if the liquid evaporates. Transfer the chicken to a large plate. (My chicken took about 40 more minutes to reach 160 degrees at 6 pounds.)

6. While the chicken rests, transfer the potatoes and garlic to a large paper-towel lined plate and pat with additional paper towels. Carve the chicken and serve with the potatoes and garlic. Enjoy!

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