Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rosemary-Clementine Roasted Chicken

I am deeply, hopelessly enamored with the Thanksgiving holiday.  It is absolutely my favorite holiday of the year.  Growing up in Texas, my family would always prepare a ham in addition to a huge turkey, lots of cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, my great-grandmother's rolls, and all the other fixins'... and that's not even touching dessert!  Typically we'd have apple pie, chocolate pie, pumpkin pie, and of course pecan pie... and usually a cake and/or cookies to boot.  Needless to say, it always stood to be an occasion of momentous, gut-busting proportions.

Now that I'm living nearly 2,000 miles from home (1,849 according to Google), Thanksgiving is not nearly as large, but it has given me the chance to pay homage to traditions while trying out a few of my own ideas.  When it comes to the bird, I had to test the waters on a turkey, for fear that I'd ruin 15 pounds of bird for nothing!  Enter the chicken.  A plump 5 pounder is a great test-dummy, not to mention a great substitute when a Thanksgiving table is only going to be serving a few people.

This recipe came together, quite simply, by what I had in my kitchen.  A few snips of rosemary from the plant on my windowsill, the juice and zest of a clementine (sidenote: I LOVE when clementines are in season.  I eat them by the bushel.), some butter, and the usual seasonings of salt, pepper and garlic.  I used to be a big fan of brining prior to roasting, but lately I've moved toward the salting method.  Simply place the bird on a plate, sprinkle with a fat pinch (2 t. or so) of salt, and cover it with plastic wrap.  Let it sit in your fridge for at least a few hours (I wouldn't go longer than 4), and you'll be rewarded with juicy meat and ridiculously crispy skin.  I don't claim to know the science behind it, but I know it's delicious.

I'll definitely be using this recipe on a turkey at some point this holiday season.  But not on Thanksgiving... this year, I'm finally heading home to see family, and indulge in some dearly missed traditions.

Rosemary-Clementine Roasted Chicken
Serves 4-6

1 5-6 pound chicken, innards removed from cavity
2 t. kosher salt
3 T. unsalted butter, softened
Zest and Juice of 1 clementine (Note: Clementine skins are very thin.  Zest only the outside orange layer, avoiding the white pith.)
2 T. fresh rosemary, chopped finely
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced very finely
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

Place chicken on a plate or tray with side, so that no juices will spill.  Salt the chicken, using 1 1/2 t. kosher salt on the outside of the bird and 1/2 t. in the cavity.  Cover with plastic wrap and place on the lowest shelf in your refrigerator.  Let sit for 2-4 hours.

 Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove chicken from the fridge and transfer to an oven-safe platter or roasting pan.  Combine butter, zest and juice of clementine, rosemary, black pepper and garlic and mash thoroughly with a fork until combined.  Set half of butter mixture aside.  Slather the other half liberally over the bird.  Add chicken stock to the platter/roasting pan and transfer to the oven.  Roast for 45 minutes until skin has begun to brown.

Slide the oven rack out and carefully slather the remaining butter mixture over the bird - I use a silicon spatula to do this.  Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Continue roasting the bird until the temperature in the thickest part of the leg registers between 160 and 165 degrees.  (Note: Be sure not to hit the bone when taking the temperature.)  Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes uncovered.  Carve and serve.

Optional Gravy: 
For a quick gravy, you can transfer the remaining chicken stock to a fat separator while the chicken rests.  Skim off 1 tablespoon of the fat and place in a small sauce pot.  Heat over medium temp until shimmering, then add 1 tablespoon of AP flour.  Whisk until well incorporated and light blond in color, about a minute.  Add the pan juices, avoiding the remaining fat.  Add the juice of 1 clementine to the mix, along with 1/2 t. fresh, chopped rosemary and a couple of grounds of pepper.  Taste and salt if needed - it may be salty enough due to the salt from the chicken.  Simmer until slightly thickened, and serve while piping hot.

1 comment: