Roast chicken: fall comfort food at its best

Once the weather turns colder and darker – or maybe it’s just the perfect meal for football season – I get motivated to roast a chicken every week. I love trying new herbs and flavorings. Plus having leftover roast chicken for soups, salads, and whatnot is invaluable for quick meals. And then of course, it’s great for broth making.

I just tried the fresh bay laurel chicken from Jerry Traunfeld’s Herb Farm cookbook. The bay left such a lovely flavor in the chicken. Aromatic and distinctive. It’s important to use fresh and not dried bay for it. Later, when you are enjoying your chicken, be sure to remove the bay leaves and do not eat them.

I make a similar version with fresh sage under the skin, which is wonderfully edible, but harder to get under the skin as it’s so flexible.

After a few years of regularly cooking chicken and a few disappointments, I’ve settled on a method that works well for me.

First, take the chicken out of its packaging and remove any extras inside – I like to use those for broth – rinse and dry the chicken and then rub it with salt and pepper. Let the salt sink in and the chicken warm up while the oven preheats to 450. This particular chicken shown above also has fennel pollen dusted on it, which is the yellow flower pictured below.

Whatever you are flavoring your chicken with, either rub it on the skin with the salt and pepper or make cuts in the skin to put your herbs underneath. For the bay laurel also add slivers of garlic under the skin.

Once you are ready to cook your chicken, flip it over so the back is up and then cook it at 450 for 15 minutes. Check the chicken, if it’s not s nice toasty brown like below, go for another 15.

Once you’ve got a nice brown on the back flip it over, turn the oven down to 350 and cook the chicken another 20 minutes for each pound.

You want the chicken to be cooked through and have the juices not run pink at all. Cut the spot between the drumstick and the breast to check to see if it’s done.

The pan will be full of drippings. You can add a bit of flour and wine to it to make gravy or another pan sauce.

I generally just save them. When it cools in the fridge, the fat and broth separate. Later I’d use the fat over time to sauté the onions and other veggies for chicken soup, and the gelatinous broth below is also a wonderful addition to soup broth.

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