Chicken is one of the most versatile foods around, besides being healthy, economical and easy to prepare. Plus, it’s pretty hard to mess up a chicken meal.
For the most part, I usually roast our chickens. When I do the regular ones, the Dutch oven the chicken is cooked in also contains an onion, a pint or two of canned carrots and maybe some potatoes.
Every once in a while, Therese will cut up a chicken and fry it, just like my mom did when I was growing up. We also have had chicken and homemade dumplings, which always is a treat.
However, I’m always looking for new ways to prepare chicken. Here is a roasting recipe that requires the bird to soak in a brine for at least six hours or overnight (Brining makes chickens extra moist and juicy.) It’s then stuffed with garlic and onion and rubbed with a herb-butter mixture.
Now, that’s my kind of recipe, one that requires little effort and simple ingredients.
Roasted Chicken with Herbed Butter
1 whole chicken, about 4 to 5 pounds
2 gallons water
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large clove garlic, pressed or crushed
2 tablespoons favorite fresh herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, tarragon), chopped
1 whole head garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 medium onion, peeled, cut in half
2 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth or more as needed
Reserve the giblets from the chicken for another use. Place the chicken in a large stock pot. Pour in the water and sprinkle in the kosher salt and sugar, swishing it around to dissolve. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
Remove the chicken from the brine, discard the brine and rinse the chicken well inside and out under cold running water. Pat the chicken dry.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix the butter with the pressed garlic and fresh herbs. Remove loose papery skin from the head of garlic and cut off the top ¼ inch to expose cloves. Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper to taste and place the whole garlic and onion halves in the cavity.
Gently loosen the skin of the chicken from the breast, thigh and leg, being careful not to tear it. Rub about half of the herb butter under the skin and on the flesh of the chicken.
Rub the remaining herb butter all over the outer skin and season with salt and pepper. Loosely tie the legs together and place the chicken in a shallow roasting pan. Add chicken broth to the pan.
Roast about 1 hour and 10 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices, or until just beginning to brown. Increase the heat to 400 degrees and roast another 20 to 25 minutes or until the skin is nicely browned and the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees.
Remove chicken from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. If desired, make a pan sauce with the drippings. Degrease the juices and set the pan over 2 burners. Add broth or wine and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Knead together 1 tablespoon flour with 1 tablespoon softened butter. Whisk the butter and flour mixture into the pan to thicken the juices.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 434 calories, 63 percent of calories from fat, 30 grams fat (12 grams saturated), no carbohydrates, 38 grams protein, 116 milligrams sodium, 144 milligrams cholesterol, no fiber.