I love roasting a whole chicken (even though chicken is one of my LEAST favorite meats, seriously, I'm not that fond of most poultry in general) because just the act of getting it ready is comforting to me, and at the same time, an art form. My husband accuses me of all but giving the chicken a "bubble bath" and asks if I offer it a glass of wine afterwards (seriously...he knows better...there's never any wine left here!!) In any case, I am fastidious about making sure the chicken is clean, clean, CLEAN...but when I am finished this is how best to get one ready to result in one TASTY dinner.
For the average size roasting chicken I take one lemon and halve it, also cut one half of an onion in half again. I salt and pepper the inside of the chicken then place it into the "Dutch Oven"....(my Dutch Oven is SO old...I think Our Blessed Mother roasted chickens for Jesus inside of it)I place the lemon and the onions inside of the cavity. I take one stick of softened unsalted butter and mix it with some chopped chives and scallions...I then lift the skin on the breast area away from the meat and put some of this butter in between the space...using the back of a spoon to spread it out. I insert some of the butter into both cavity ends and then deposit the leftover bits in the indentations of the drumsticks and the wings. I place fresh thyme around the top of the chicken, and salt and pepper it again. I generously squirt the top of the chicken with grainy, spicy mustard and use a knive to spread it around. I use a rack in my Dutch Oven to keep the bird up off the bottom...but this is optional. Add some vegetables if you like, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, small onions, root vegetables work the best...stash a garlic clove here and there if desired.
Put the cover on the Dutch Oven...or if you're using a low roasting pan cover with foil. Place in a 350 oven and roast for at least an hour. The finished internal temperature of a chicken (for this you'll need to insert a meat thermometer into the meatiest portion of the bird) needs to be 165 degrees. When the chicken begins to approach this, remove the cover so that the outside can brown and the skin can become "crispy" I like my chicken to basically "fall off the bone" but this is a matter of personal preference. As long as the internal temperature is 165 and the juices are running clear, it's technically done.
We enjoy ours with yellow rice...then any leftover rice can be combined with leftover chicken, maybe some of the leftover vegetables and pan drippings to become Chicken with Rice Soup for the Monday night meal.
Buon Appetito! (I'm perfecting my Italian)
Today's food quote: “Happy and successful cooking doesn't rely only on know-how; it comes from the heart, makes great demands on the palate and needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life.” Georges Blanc, ‘Ma Cuisine des Saisons’