I've been trying so many new things in the kitchen lately: Steak Frites with Lavender Hollandaise, Pork Potstickers and Rack of Lamb with Goat Cheese come to mind. However, this week, after celebrating Chinese New Year in Chinatown on Sunday and stuffing myself silly with Peking Duck, I decided to go back to basics and roast a chicken.
Like so many other chefs and cooks, I'm madly in love with roast chicken. In fact, my first post here was about the simplicity of roasting a chicken and how a little butter, salt and pepper is all you need to make an amazing meal. The better quality your chicken the better it will taste. I avoid those fat roasters from the supermarket and go for the smaller heritage birds who are humanely raised without antibiotics and are let out to pasture to eat worms and whatever else they peck from the earth. Not only is it better for the chickies and the earth, but it's better for us.
Yesterday, I made a rub out of lemon zest, salt and some fresh oregano from my CSA (Community Support Agriculture), massaged half of it under the the breast skin and the other half all over the chicken's exterior. Oftentimes, the meat lacks seasoning since the skin that gets all the butter and salt, but with this method, the breast meat was bursting with flavor. We all loved it so much, aside from the wings, there was very little left!
*PS - sorry about the photos this week. I've bought a tripod and was trying to figure it all out. Unfortunately, the lighting wasn't what I'd hoped and we were all starving so I sort of took a few haphazard shots and called it a day.
Roast Chicken with Lemon Zest and Oregano
(While nothing gets more simple than butter and salt, this is just a smidge more complicated. Plus, with just a splash of olive oil to bring the rub together, the fat come from the chicken.)
What You'll Need:
1 3.5-4 pound Whole Chicken
2 tsp Salt
Zest of 2 large lemons (about 2-3 tbsp) minced plus the lemons quartered
1/4 cup Fresh Oregano Leaves plus 5-6 stems of oregano
Splash of Olive Oil
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup White Wine
Preheat the oven to 400. Wash and pat dry the chicken and place it in a roasting pan. Loosen the breast skin by gently running your fingers underneath it and pushing them as far back and to the sides as they'll reach.
Add the oregano, salt, lemon zest and olive oil to a mortar and smash it into a paste with a pestle. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, then chop the oregano leaves very finely and combine with the salt, lemon zest and olive oil.
Rub half of the herb paste underneath the chicken skin spreading it evenly back and to the sides of the chicken breast. With the remaining paste, rub it all over the chicken's outer skin along the breast and the drumsticks.
Stuff the chicken with the oregano sprigs and as many lemon quarters as will fit. Add the wine to the bottom of the pan along with the remaining lemon quarters. Pop in the oven.
Baste with the pan juices every 20 minutes until the thermometer reads 175. Remove from the oven and let rest for fifteen minutes. The temperature will come up to 180 which is the proper poultry temp.
To serve, carve the chicken and pour the drippings over top some rice or egg noodles. A nice salad or sauteed spinach would finish off the meal nicely.
Approximate Dinner Cost:
Cost per Meal: 4-6 servings