Roast Chicken

Thank God for electric roasters. Here’s why:

Yesterday, we were going to have roast chicken for supper. At noon, I put a frozen free-range chicken, along with a large onion, four medium-sized potatoes and a quart of canned carrots (with juice) into a roaster that also contained about a half-cup of red wine and a cup of water. I also sprinkled it with some Old Bay’s seasoning, salt and pepper. I then put it in our gas oven.

When I came home after work, ready to remove the chicken and vegetables from the roaster so some gravy could be made, disappointment came over me, as the the oven was cold and the bird was still slightly frozen. For some reason, the oven wasn’t working, although all four stove-top burners fired up when turned on.

After fiddling around with the oven for 20 to 30 minutes and fumbling through the owner’s manual, we decided to leave the repairs to the experts.

And that brings me to the electric roaster. We have two, fortunately, so I was able to transfer the chicken and fixings into one of them and cook the meal. We weren’t able to have it for supper, instead settling on some beans, coleslaw and crusty bread. However, it will make a nice supper tonight.

I like to have roast chicken a couple of times a month. It’s easy to make and also cheap. If you roast it with vegetables, the cost is only about $2.50 per person. Buy a bird on sale, and it can be even less. Plus, it makes great  leftovers.

There are all sort of ways to spruce up you roast chicken. Vegetables and fruit cooked with the chicken caramelize to a sweet, golden brown in the pan juices. You also can adjust the flavor with an assortment of spices.

If you’re in the mood now for roast chicken, here’s a basic recipe that might be worth trying. And remember, don’t be afraid to add some veggies or fruit.

Basic Roast Chicken with Rosemary
7 branches fresh rosemary, divided
1 3-pound whole chicken
2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt (preferably kosher), to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop enough rosemary to make about 1 tablespoon, reserving remaining branches. Position 4 rosemary branches in single layer in shallow roasting pan just big enough to hold the chicken.
Wash chicken, including the cavity, with cold water. Dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper in cavity. Place garlic, chopped rosemary and lemon in cavity. Place chicken on top of rosemary branches in the baking pan. Drizzle olive oil over top of chicken. Season with salt and pepper.
Roast 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast 60 minutes more. To check for doneness, press drumstick — it should feel tender and move easily in the socket. Or test with an instant-read thermometer: Stick thermometer stem into thickest part of thigh, just beneath but not touching the bone, reaching all the way down to the joint. It should read between 170 and 175 degrees.
Allow chicken to rest at room temperature 5 minutes before carving into serving pieces.
Meanwhile, if desired, make sauce: Combine balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until brown sugar dissolves.
Cut chicken into serving pieces. Arrange on platter. If desired, drizzle with balsamic vinegar mixture. Garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per 3½-ounce serving, with sauce: 267 calories (55 percent from fat), 16.2 grams fat (3.9 grams saturated, 7.9 grams monosaturated, 2.9 grams polyunsaturate), 28 grams protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, 0.05 grams fiber, 87 milligrams cholesterol, 434 milligrams sodium, 16 milligrams calcium.