Thursday, February 18, 2010

Roast Lemon Chicken

Ah, the main course. Did you know that whole chickens are ridiculously cheap?? It was $7.04 for two 4 lb. chickens. AWESOME. And, in case you don't know, that made about 10 servings of chicken. I'm very happy with whole chickens at the moment. :) This recipe came yet again from America's Test Kitchen Cookbook. I wish you could just use my book because it has great photos of the prepping process... oh well, you'll have to just try and follow my words.

Unfortunately, I have not perfected the simple art (yes, very simple) of cooking the chicken with flavor. It was the perfect texture and very moist (if you know me, I've gotten over my disgust for that word), but it was a bit bland. Next time, I will do the following:
1. Brine in the listed combination of water, salt, and sugar instead of reducing the salt and sugar by 75%.
2. Remember to use salt and pepper before cooking
3. Use the amount of lemons and garlic it recommends instead of only using half.
Go figure. Try following the directions, and I'm sure it'll turn out great for you! Also, don't let the photo fool you - I forgot to take a nice picture of it before it was devoured.

1 c. salt
1 c. sugar
1 gallon water
2 - 4lb. whole chickens
2 lemons, cut into quarters
12 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons fresh parsley
salt and pepper
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For two whole chickens, brine (if you have time) in the following for 1 hour: 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of sugar dissolved in 1 gallon of water.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Prep the chicken for roasting by:
1. remove the gizzard packet and any excess fat from the cavity of the chicken; remove any packaging attached to the chicken.
2. pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
3. using your fingers, taking care not to tear the membrane around the perimeter of the breast, release the skin on either side of the breastbone to form two pockets

Mix 4 tablespoons of the butter, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. Spread the butter under the skin and over the breast. Season with salt and pepper.

Spray the rack of the roasting pan with oil and lay the chicken on the rack, breast side up. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and brush over the chicken. Pour 2 cups of the broth into the roasting pan. Roast the chicken for 40 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees, rotate the position of the pan in the oven, and continue to roast the chicken until the thickest portion of the breast registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer about 30 minutes longer.

Tip the chicken so that the juice from the cavity runs into the roasting pan. Transfer the chickens to a carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, skim any fat from the roasting pan using a spoon. Stir in the remaining broth, scraping up any browned bits. Pour the juice into a saucepan and simmer until thickened and reduced to about 1 cup, 5 to 10 minutes.

Stir in any accumulated chicken juice. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, one piece at a time. Off the heat, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Carve the chicken, discarding the lemon quarters and garlic in the cavity. Spoon the sauce over the chicken before serving.