One of the reasons I love cooking is for the sensory experience. I love the smooth feel of slicing through potatoes, the the soft sizzling sound of diced onions hitting hot melted butter, the way fresh basil looks like ribbons after its been julienned. Other than taste, my favorite sense (as I'm sure is true for most people) in the kitchen is smell. One whiff of a delicious smelling meal is better than an appetizer and is sure to make your mouth water and your stomach grumble. I love the smells of roasted garlic, fresh tarragon, lemon zest, and bacon in the morning while I'm still lying in bed. Smells to me are just as much a part as the taste, texture, and appetizing appearance of a finely prepared meal. It's smell that makes it or breaks it.
As good smelling meals go, this roast chicken is probably the best one I can think of. It's amazing. Come on, it's chicken slathered in butter, stuffed with lemon, rosemary, garlic, and sitting on a bed of potatoes and onions. The chicken skin cooks to a golden crisp but the meat is moist and juicy. The lemons and rosemary, and garlic in the cavity permeate the chicken and the juices that run off. And the potatoes and onions become soft and caramelized while cooking in chicken fat. What could possibly be better? And it makes the whole house smell absolutely fantastic.
The recipe is my mom's creation. Served with a simple green salad and a fresh baguette to sop up all of those glorious chicken juices, this is one of my all time favorite meals. Give it a try and you'll remember why cooking is a true sensory delight.
Favorite Roast Chicken
1 whole chicken
About 3 tablespoons of room-temperature butter
2 lemons, halved
2 heads of garlic, with its top cut off, exposing the cloves beneath the skin
2-3 rosemary sprigs
10-12 new potatoes, halved (enough to serve how ever many people are eating)
2 onions, cut into large slices
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 French baguette or other fresh bread
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scatter potato haves and onion slices in a large roasting pan.
2. Pat chicken dry. Salt and pepper the inside of the cavity. Stuff lemon haves and garlic heads into the cavity of the chicken (both heads of garlic may not fit -- we like to leave one out roasting with the potatoes and eat the roasted cloves with bread. They don't quite get as roasty and sweet when you cook them inside the cavity). Rub the skin with softened butter. Season the outside of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
3. Place roasting pan in the center of the oven and cook for an hour and a half or until the skin is crispy and the juices run clear. Take chicken out of the pan and place on a serving dish. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, return roasting pan to the oven and cook potatoes, onions, and garlic (remove garlic from cavity and continue cooking it if you want it to get it nice and roasty and soft).
4. Remove roasting pan from the oven after 15 minutes or until onions and potatoes are caramelized. Remove foil from chicken and spoon potatoes, onions, garlic, and chicken juices around the chicken on the serving dish. Serve with fresh bread.