My family gets a chicken delivered to our doorstep every week along with fresh raw milk when Karen stops off on her central Kitsap run. Local chicken is fantastically good, and it’s wonderful roasted with just a little salt on the skin. We’re experimenting with spices too!
Preparing the chicken
Karen mentioned that she’s been leaving her freshly slaughtered chickens in the refrigerator for a couple of days to let them relax. When I get a chance I follow Alice Walters’ advice and take the chicken out of the refrigerator for an hour or so before I bake it to bring it closer to room temperature.
Seasoning the chicken
Here are some ideas.
Herbs de Poulet from Two Snooty Chefs . This bright mix rubs right on the skin (or on top of olive oil if you want), smells fantastic while cooking, and tastes wonderful while eating. The self-described snooty chefs are our local stars Chris Plemmons and Gary Fuller who make up gourmet spice blends. These are widely available in Kitsap, notably at Central Market in Poulsbo and CJ’s in Bremerton.
Mediterranean herbs: Andrea Wigglesworth offers a bouquet garni most weeks. You can catch the Wyckels Farm booth at several local farmers markets, including Bremerton and Poulsbo. Or, if you have an herb box in your potager, grab parsley, oregano, thyme, tarragon, and whatever else looks interesting. Chop these up and mix with olive oil to rub onto the chicken skin.
Curry: on vacation earlier this month I stopped in Penzey’s Spices in Portland and picked up several varieties of curry mixes. Rubbed straight onto the skin, this imparts a deliciously cumin-scented flavor to the chicken.
You can put some of the herbs into the chicken cavity to flavor the bird. However, if you put the whole bouquet garni in the cavity, the chicken will take much longer to cook, just as if you had stuffed it with a bread stuffing. (Ask me how I found out!)
Roasting the chicken
I have a small wire rack that I put down into a large roasting pan. The chicken goes on the rack to keep it above its own juices and let the skin get crispy.
Roast at 375′. When the breast skin gets really brown, put a piece of tinfoil on just the breast to prevent it from overcooking and drying out. After an hour take out and check the temperature with a meat thermometer under the leg and in the breast. Thigh should be 160′, breast 140′ or so, the juices will run clear, and the leg will be a little loose in its socket. This takes between an hour and two hours, with 90 minutes being a good ballpark estimate, depending on how cold the chicken was at the start of the cooking process, how big it is, and how much stuff is in the cavity.
Let the chicken rest for five or ten minutes. Then carve the bird. There are a couple of ways of doing this – you can serve the thigh and leg on the bone or off, and the breast can be cut while still on the bird, or taken off and then cut. Jamie Oliver’s excellent web site has an instructional video that shows both methods.