Roast chicken was one of the first meats my son ate and it’s still a favorite, indeed for all of us. At this time of year, it’s an easy way to have a hearty meal without putting in all that much effort, especially if you do as we often do and have a great pile of roast vegetables alongside. We usually have potatoes, often roasted with some rosemary and garlic, and then it will depend what we have in the house, but squash, carrots, parsnips and beetroot are all regular in the mix. As well as being a great meal in itself, there is the added bonus of having the bones to make stock with for the soups we are getting back in (and that are so needed on yucky days as it is here today!). You also, sometimes, have some leftover meat which can go in a variety of things from sandwiches and salads to risotto. If there are less of you for a Thanksgiving meal, it’s a great alternative to turkey as you don’t end up eating it for weeks and it is a lot quicker to cook, but it still retains much of the essence of a traditional meal.
One of the things I love about roasting a chicken is there is minimal preparation and while it takes a little time to cook, you don’t have to do anything, just let it get on with things. I often roast it relatively plain with seasoning on top and some lemon inside, but this time I felt like doing a teeny bit more preparation than usual to try to get a more interesting end result and capture some of the fall flavors.
The preparation is pretty easy – basically crush up some garlic with some salt, add some chopped aromatic herbs, then ease the mixture in under the skin of the chicken. You do this just by gently pulling the skin away from the breast of the chicken, from the neck end. I didn’t bother trying to put it over the legs as well, as both I felt it was too much of a pain to try to do as well as personally I really like the flavor of the brown meat as it is and it seemed enough just over the breast meat.
Overall, the paste certainly worked. My husband described it as being like something you would get in a restaurant. I suspect he is being overly kind, but it certainly gives a nicely aromatic flavor that makes a nice variation on a simple roast chicken. Plus, the skin still goes crispy (yippee!) and there is plenty of meat without the garlic-herb mixture on it in case some of your eaters (eg the kids) find it a bit weird. The flavors, being very much of the season, work really well with roast vegetables and would also combine well with a wide range of Thanksgiving sides, if you chose to make it for your big meal.
Just a point to note in preparing the meal as a whole – if you are having it with roast vegetables, as we were, they probably don’t need to roast quite as long – probably only about 45mins – so you can get the chicken in, prepare the vegetables, then add them in as well and all will be ready together. Oh, and apologies for the fairly haphazard-looking carving in the photo – we were all so desperate to get stuck in to our meal! It’s not as if you can tell when it is all gone.
A simple herby mix under the skin adds a delicious layer of flavor to roast chicken.
- 4 lb chicken 1.8kg, approx
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh sage
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary
- 1/2 lemon
Preheat oven to 400F/200C.
Roughly chop garlic and crush with the salt.
Roughly chop herbs and add to garlic, crush to combine.
Gently ease the skin away from the meat over the chicken breasts from the neck end (ie not from the cavity). Take some of the garlic-herb mixture and push it in under the skin, over the breast, on each side, and ease it over as much of the breast as possible by rubbing from the outside once you have put the mixture in as best you can.
Cut the half lemon in two and push into the cavity of the bird, then place on a roasting tray.
Dry the skin and sprinkle with salt and pepper then drizzle over a little olive oil and rub in.
Roast for 1hr, 15 mins.
Why not try one of these easy roasted sides alongside: