I was in the mood for some good old comfort food for this cold night, and nothing speaks to me the way Roast Chicken does. I usually use my Joy of Cooking's recipe Roasted Chicken with Herbs and Garlic (which is amazing by the way), but I wanted to try something a little different for tonight. This one takes 20 (yes 20!) cloves of garlic, roasts them and then makes a garlic butter out of it that you stuff under the skin before you bake it- I know my mouth is watering just typing this! I was also intrigued by the use of lemons. Seems like a nice bright touch for a winter's night.
The chicken is in the oven right now and it smells just like Heaven in here. I will update this post after we eat and let you all know how it tastes!
** update follows after recipe
Garlic Roast Chicken
Recipe taken from Fine Living Magazine, issue #14
Is this bird beautiful or what?!
20 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
One 3 1/2-pound chicken
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley (including stems), chopped coarse
2 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 cup homemade or low-salt canned chicken stock
3 tablespoons madeira* (I did not have Madeira on hand. But with a little research I found that you can substitute Balsamic Vinegar if you do not have another Sherry available. If you do this you need to use half the amount, 1 1/2 tablespoons of BV and reduce by half on the stove. Then continue as the recipe states.) Next time I will try it with Madeira and let you know the difference.
Heat the oven to 250 degrees F. Put the garlic cloves and olive oil in an ovenproof container and roast for 1 hour; the cloves should be very soft. Remove the garlic cloves from the oil and set them aside to cool for about 15 min.; reserve the oil. Turn up the oven to 375 degrees F.
Put the garlic cloves, butter, salt, and pepper in a food processor; purée until smooth. Transfer the garlic butter to a bowl; stir in the tarragon. Allow the butter to cool to about the same temperature as the chicken, but don't let it harden.
Grate the zest from one of the lemons and then juice it; set the zest and juice aside. Cut the other lemon into 1/4-inch slices.
Rinse the chicken inside and out; pat dry. Start loosening the skin over the breast with your fingers. Go slowly and carefully to avoid tearing the skin. Work your fingers all the way to the thigh joint. Scoop up some of the garlic butter with your fingers and begin smearing it under the skin, starting at the furthest point in the chicken and working your way toward the front. Be sure you get the butter underneath the skin of the legs and breast. Pat the skin back into place. Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and stuff some of the parsley, carrots, onion, and celery in its cavity. Tuck the wings under the chicken and tie the legs together.
Scatter the remaining parsley, carrots, onion, and celery in the roasting pan with the lemon slices. Set the chicken on top, breast side up; sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Roast for 40 min., basting occasionally with 1 Tbs. of the reserved garlic oil.
Turn the oven up to 425 degrees F. Turn the bird over and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Continue roasting for another 25 to 30 min., basting the chicken with its juices. When the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F, or the thigh juices run clear, remove the bird from the pan and let it sit on a platter, covered with foil to keep it warm.
After giving the bird a flip
While the chicken roasts, pour the remaining garlic oil into a medium frying pan and set it over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms. Turn the heat to high and sauté the mushrooms until browned, about 8 min. Remove from the heat but keep warm.
Set the roasting pan, with the vegetables and juices, on the stove over medium heat. Spoon off as much fat as you can. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Let the sauce boil for 5 min. to concentrate its flavors. Strain the sauce, pressing out all the juices from the solids. Degrease the sauce and set aside. Return the mushrooms to medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the Madeira, let it bubble briefly, and add the sauce and lemon zest. Serve with the chicken.
Dinner was beautiful. It was comforting, special and absolutely delicious. This was probably one of the very first meals I have ever made that felt complete.I have cooked a lot of dinners, many of those I have been very proud of. But I never got the feeling like I did tonight. Tonight was an accomplishment. The chicken was fall off the bone tender, but the sauce was the star. It completely made the dish. When the chicken was almost coming out of the oven I realized I didn't have mushrooms on hand- and I always have mushrooms on hand. I debated about leaving them out, I mean how much could they alter the dish, right? Well after eating this, we realized it wouldn't be as fabulous with out them, that is for sure. They add an earthiness that blends so beautifully with the citrus. It was a perfect combination- Fine Living knew what they were doing! Hats off to them.
I am not a sauce girl. Don't get me wrong, they are beautiful and when I go out to dinner I completely enjoy them. But I never make them here at home. I mean, never. It just never occurs to me, or maybe there is a part of me that is a bit afraid of them. Maybe both. But this dish has changed me. Now I know what so many of my dishes were missing! This step, which seems so very small makes a whole world of difference. And today I learned something new. How very exciting!