Roasts have always intimidated me. When I first started getting into cooking as a hobby they were one of the first things that I attempted, and let’s just say the results were often on the ‘slightly raw’ side. As a result, my family and I agreed that I would give whole birds an indefinite vacation and venture on to other culinary shores. Now 8 years later, it came time to confront my unresolved fears head on, thanks to the Food Challenge “Waiter There’s Something in my… Roast” hosted this time around by The Passionate Cook .
Now don’t get me wrong. I tried valiantly to rationalize making a vegetarian offering, or something involving beef, but at the end of the day these options were all rooted in my fear of ‘the bird’. I decided that it was time to call a rematch! This time cautious experience, and years of cooking shows came to my aid. I seasoned. I rubbed. I basted. And, ultimately I waited.
When the timer went off it was a joy to watch the juices running under the skin, rivers of love I decided. I waited 15 minutes, in the hopes that this would ensure everything would remain moist and flavourful (I had rubbed a bit of mashed garlic under the skin of the bird 😉 ) After carving everything up, that first bite was pure joy. There’s nothing like being apprehensive about something you’ve made, and having that first taste reassure you that there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t perfect. I probably will season it with more salt the next time around and rub the bird more liberally with olive oil, but the herbal and citrus flavours were distinct without being overpowering, the flesh was indeed moist and flavourful, and the skin was brown and crunchy. For this first ‘reattempt’ I couldn’t have asked for more 🙂 To round out the meal, I added Pigeon Peas and Rice, as well as a Carrot and Raisin Salad. Yum! You can look for those additional recipes on here in the near future 🙂
Crisp Lemon Chicken
Source: Empire Kosher Chicken Cookbook 
Serves 4 to 6
One 4 to 5 pound chicken, rinsed and trimmed of all visible fat
Freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, pressed
2 lemons, 1 very thinly sliced, 1 juiced
5 sprigs rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 cup very thinly sliced onion
1 celery stalk with leaves, sliced into 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 cup Italian parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F
2. Pepper the chicken inside and out and rub with the oil, then the garlic.
3. Place half the lemon slices, 2 rosemary sprigs (or 1/2 teaspoon dried), half each of the onion slices, celery with leaves, and parsley inside the cavity
4. Truss the chicken tightly
5. Place the chicken breast side down on a roasting rack set in a roasting pan.
6. Place the bay leaf and the remaining lemon, rosemary, onion, celery with leaves, and parsley under the rack.
7. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock.
8. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes.
9. Remove from the oven, baste with the pan juices, and turn the chicken over.
10. Pour over the lemon juice, return to the oven and roast until the skin is crisp and brown and the juices run clear when a joint is pierced with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes.
11. Transfer the chicken to a warm platter and allow it to rest for a few minutes for easier carving.
12. Remove the rack from the pan.
13. Tilt the pan and spoon off the fat.
14. Ad the remaining stock to the pan and heat on the stove top, scraping up the brown bits, until the stock is somewhat reduced, about 5 minutes.
15. Remove the bay leaf and rosemary fronds, if using.
16. Carve the chicken and discard the cavity vegetables.
17. Remove the pan vegetables and place them in a strainer, pressing on them with a wooden spoon over the pan to extract as much liquid as possible.
18. Discard the solids.
19. Serve the chicken with the pan juices.