Things in the kitchen are speeding up for me as I return to teaching, Leandro returns to daycare, and the summer harvest continues to be really bountiful. Ironically, almost everyone I know who would usually help me prepare/eat all this food has been away, including Allison, with whom my family splits our farm share.
So I’ve been going nuts trying to cook or preserve it all while also gearing up for the new semester. Yeah, I am overwhelmed.
But, I am also compelled to share recipes and this one is a goodie – a simple yet sophisticated roast chicken (I am very fond of roast chicken) that comes out subtle and juicy and really showed off the fine qualities of the pastured chickens Trisha Hardgrove has been producing at Restoration Farm. The texture and grain of these birds is far superior to anything I’ve had from a supermarket or specialty store (including expensive organic or “natural” birds). They even look cleaner and healthier that a commercial bird when plucked and when I am cutting into them.
Since I believe in packing the oven whenever possible, I made Slow-Roasted Cherry Tiny Tomatoes http://hotcheapeasy.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/slow-roasted-grape-tomatoes-for-pasta-bruschetta-or-sandwiches/at the same time. This dish would also be very fine with string beans (now at distribution at our CSA) or roasted summer squash (abundant right now).
I made this ahead of Hurricane Irene and brought the chicken and tomatoes over to the kind neighbors who had us sleep over their house on the night the storm hit (I got spooked by the banging on the roof). It made a terrific cold lunch when the power was out. Hot or cold, roast chicken brings comfort.
1 roasting chicken (4-5 lbs), giblets removed
Olive oil for rubbing
4 cloves garlic, minced into a tsp coarse salt
Juice of two juicy lemons (Meyer lemons are recommended, but if you haven’t got, be prepared to add ½ tsp sugar or a tsp of orange juice to the rub), squeezed lemons reserved
¼ Cup coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (may add another ¼ Cup fresh, or supplement with a smaller amount of dried rosemary) plus 8 rosemary sprigs
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F and place rack in the center. Rinse and dry the chicken with paper towels, trimming and discarding extra fat.
Place chicken breast side down on roasting pan (you may also use roasting rack to good effect) and rub the oil and half the garlic onto the skin. Pour half the lemon juice on the back (along with sugar or orange juice), as well as half the chopped rosemary and half the cayenne.
Turn the chicken over and gently separate the skin from the breast, leaving skin on. Insert on rosemary sprig on each side. Then repeat the rub with more oil and the remaining garlic, lemon juice, rosemary and cayenne. Sprinkle on additional coarse salt to taste.
Tuck a rosemary sprig under each wing and the remaining four sprigs in the cavity with the squeezed-out lemons.
Bake the chicken, breast side up, basting once or twice, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (without touching bone) registers 170°F (1 to 1.5 hours).
Before serving, let the chicken rest, covered loosely with aluminum foil, for 20 minutes.
(This recipe was inspired by”Kathy’s Rosemary-Roasted Chicken” in Food To Live By, by Myra Goodman –the Earthbound Farm lady!)