I know what you are probably thinking: plain ol' chicken? Hmm. Yeah. Thanks, but no thanks. I like my meat with some flavor thankyouverymuch.
People of the internet, if you thought that, you would be seriously and sadly mistaken, and obviously, you also have never tasted a well roasted chicken before. If you had, you would never have uttered such blasphemy against chicken. Really. Because roasted chicken, in all its simplicity, is glorious. And this particular recipe is killer.
I think one of the most difficult adjustments to life at home with baby is the lack of structure inherent in my days. Work provides natural structure to life: working then playing, waking then sleeping, the rhythm of life is clearly defined by the demands of your job and the position of the sun. But when you have a newborn baby, all the boundaries disappear: working, not-working, sleeping, and waking begin to blend together into a mushy purple haze. Like suddenly, it's 5am and you stumble out of bed for the umpteenth time to feed the baby, snuggle down on the couch with him, and then suddenly you jolt awake (did I fall asleep during a feeding again?) and it's 6:30am, and the half drunk bottle of milk is mushed up against the sleeping baby's nose, and your boobs are aching and leaking like fountains because you missed your 5:30am pumping session. Where exactly was the sleeping/waking, working/not-working line there? I don't know, the line went AWOL a long time ago. It now seems perfectly normal to sleep in the middle of the day and run a load of laundry while watching Battlestar Galactica and feeding the baby at 4am.
Under such circumstances, you sort of have to cling to whatever structure you can make for yourself. You need something to distinguish night from day, and weekdays from weekend (because as as we have already established, motherhood is a job with no breaks, weekends, or vacations). For me, that means it's really important to do something different, anything different at all really, to make Saturday and Sunday special and different from the rest of the week.
One way to do this is make up a weekly chore routine: you know, Monday grocery shoping, Tuesday library, Friday laundry and farmer's market, etc. It's important to not allow myself to do "work" (ie: do the laundry and the housework) on Saturday or Sunday. It's important to go to church and the beach on the weekend. And finally, I think it's important to have Sunday night dinner. I like the idea of having a "big" family meal on Sunday night, a meal that is a little special, a little more fancy than usual. I just decided to institute this ritual this week because I am sick of the monotony and sameness of baby care, but I think it's a great tradition to have, regardless of whether you are currently enslaved to a newborn's needs or not.
I honestly can't think of a better dish to start this weekly tradition off with than this roasted chicken recipe. I have been making different versions of roasted chicken for years, but this one is hands down my favorite. It's so good that Nate (he is so gosh darn picky too!) who professes not to like chicken because it's "boring," spent most of last night gushing about how good this was. It's simple and elegant, bursting with flavor, and meltingly tender.
Practically Perfect Oven Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter
Adapted from Bon Appetit January 2001
Hi internet, I'm German. I have little square hands, a ridiculous amount of hair, and I cook with butter. As you make have noticed by now, this is not a low fat food blog. Yes, all my recipes have like, a million pounds of butter in them. But please chew on this little nugget: when I was pregnant my doctor made me meet with a nutritionist, and my nutritionist said butter is ok. Yes, you heard me right. BUTTER IS OK! Sure, butter is made of fat, but a) hydrogenated, trans-fat, high-fructose corn syrup, preservative laden junk food is much worse for you and you probably indulge in that occasionally and b) a little butter goes a long way to making you feel fuller faster, and it helps keep your blood sugar levels lower. So like, when I asked him if it was ok to have toast for breakfast, he literally told me "only if you have butter on it." YES.
So please enjoy this recipe in all it's herb butter glory, and if you start to feel a twinge of guilt about the butter, just remember: Beck's nutritionist said it's ok!
What do I need for this fabulous recipe?
1 roasting chicken 4-6 lbs, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 cup butter (1 stick, or 120g) softened but not melted
1 tablespoon fresh thyme + 3 large sprigs
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley + 3 large sprigs
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary + 3 small sprigs
roasting pan and rack
cotton kitchen twine
Amazing but optional gravy
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons thickening flour (all purpose flour, or gluten-free sweet rice flour or arrowroot starch)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and position rack in the lower third of the oven.
Here is a picture meant to represent all the things you should have for this recipe: See that bottle of wine? pretend it's a really a box of chicken stock. And pretend that little jar of coriander isn't there. I have this terrible habit of taking pictures of the wrong ingredients. Soooooory.
Get your herbs. Take 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon rosemary, and 1 tablespoon parsley and chop finely.
Mix chopped herbs into butter, along with 1 pinch salt.
With your fingers, loose chicken skin. Slide your fingers under the skin starting from the neck side, and working your way to the legs.
With your fingers, spread 3 tablespoons of the herb butter mixture under the skin. Make sure it gets spread around over the breast meat and legs. Sprinkle outside of the skin with a pinck of kosher salt and some cracked pepper. Spread an additional 2 tablespoons of the herb butter on the outside of the skin, over the breasts and legs.
Stuff the cavity with the 3 sprigs thyme, 3 springs parsley, and 3 sprigs rosemary.
Tie the chicken's legs together with cotton kitchen twine, and tuck the wings under.
Place chicken on roasting pan.
Roast chicken in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and brush skin with herb butter. Roast chicken for 30 more minutes. Remove from oven, and brush skin with herb butter a second time. Replace chicken in oven, and roast until thigh meat registers 180 degrees on an instant read thermometer (about 30 minutes). Remove from oven, and brush with herb butter. Let rest for at least 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.
Amazing but Optional Gravy
Tip chicken up to allow any juices from the cavity to drain into the roasting pan. Remove chicken and rack to a cutting board for carving. Set roasting pan over a burner on high heat, and add 1 cup chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, and scrape up any bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Strain into a sauce pan.
Add any left-over herb butter mixture to the sauce pan. Add 2 tablespoons flour (sweet rice four, arrowroot starch, or corn starch if you are cooking gluten-free, all-purpose flour if you are not). Bring to a boil, and whisk vigorously until sauce comes together and thickens. Add more flour to thicken, or more stock to thin.