Cornwall - Mar. 18, 2011 - Roast chicken makes me think of sitting around the table with family. I’m not sure why. I suppose it’s because we always sat as a family to have dinner while I was growing up. I never gave it much credence, it’s just what we did and I still do it today. We always set the table and sit as a family for all of our meals. Even when we don’t have the kids, Chris and I set a proper table and eat together. Sometimes the baby is napping at suppertime so we get to savour the wine and enjoy the quiet intimacy of sharing a meal.
Our dining room table sits at the end of our kitchen and opens to our living room so this is our hub. We always gravitate to it. My partner sits and plugs away on the computer while I cook. I’ve sat and relaxed while he has cooked. Now we have the addition of a high chair which still astounds me. I often look over to the dining room table while I am cooking to watch Chris feed our son - it’s one of those surreal moments, the kind that makes your lips curve into a smile.
Sunday was busy at our house with running around, a trip to work and a one of the kids’ sleepover mates stayed for dinner. No sweat because I knew the chicken and fixings would feed everyone. I suppose roast chicken isn’t very sexy and it’s been done a million times but it’s darn good and easy in my books. I look for uncomplicated these days so I pick dishes that I can precook and pack in the fridge to pull out during the week to reheat and no hassle one pot type dishes for the weekends. I like to give my chicken a buttermilk bath whether it’s a whole chicken or pieces. This is by no means a must, but I find the chicken is very moist if you do it. Pick whichever root vegetables you enjoy. The white turnip I used was not a hit with the kids but the grown-ups liked them. Nobody complained about the aroma. Forget the febreze and scented candles, the savoury smell of thyme filling the kitchen made the cool afternoon warm. Spring is upon us so perhaps next weekend will be gumbo while there’s still a bit of a nip in the air.
Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables - Feeds four
1 (3-pound) full chicken
Carton of buttermilk
1/2 orange, cut into wedges
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 onion, cut into small chunks
1 onion cut into four wedges
8 full carrots
2 white turnips
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 fresh sage sprigs
3 fresh thyme sprigs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
4 tablespoons herbes du Provence
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper or white pepper
2 cups chicken broth (approximate amount)
Place chicken in a pot and cover with buttermilk. Break up one thyme sprig and add it to the pot. Turn chicken over in the pot when you think about it.
To make the chicken: Position the rack in the lowest third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
Pat chicken with paper towels to dry it and let it sit for 20 minutes. Place the carrots on the bottom of the roasting pan so they act as the rack for the chicken. Place the orange and lemon wedges, chunked onions, and 1 sprig of each fresh herb in the main chicken cavity. Give a couple of the lemon wedges a squeeze inside the cavity. Tie the legs together to hold the shape of the chicken. Stir 2 tablespoons of butter, 3 tablespoons herbes de Provence, oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of each the salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the butter mixture between the meat and skin and all over the outside of the chicken. Place chicken on top of carrots.
Roast for 20 minutes (should be golden brown) uncovered then pour the broth into the pan and add the remaining sprigs of fresh herbs Add remaining vegetables to the pan and sprinkle with the last tablespoon of herbes de Provence. Cover everything with foil and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. The general rule is 20 minutes per pound. A 3-4 pound chicken will cook in about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Let stand 20 minutes while preparing the gravy. Slice on a platter and pour on the jus.
Roast chicken in its buttermilk bath.
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