Roast Chicken

9 Jan

Roast ChickenThis is more a method than a recipe. The cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken. For a Cornish roasting hen – 2½ to 3 pounds – you’ll need 1½ to 2 hours. A proper roasting chicken of 5 or 6 pounds will take longer. The cooking time also depends on whether you use a regular oven or a convection oven. I recommend convection (my oven has a “convection roast” setting) because the cooking time is shorter and the chicken comes out juicier.

Rinse the chicken and shake it dry. Spray cooking spray on a roasting pan that is just a little bigger than the chicken and put the chicken in the pan while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees for convection and 375 degrees for a regular oven.

Sprinkle the chicken with garlic powder and rub a few tablespoons of zaatar over it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, zaatar is a herb blend commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking. You can get it at Middle Eastern grocery stores or in well-stocked spice or bulk-food stores. If all else fails, order it online. (It’s great on pita and in scrambled eggs too!)

If you can’t find zaatar or don’t like it, you can use another herb blend or a little paprika.

The key to getting a juicy, nicely browned bird is to baste it frequently. Baste after the first half-hour and then every 15-20 minutes.

You will know it’s done when a) the bird is nicely browned b) the drumstick feels loose when you wiggle it and c) the juices that run out of the cavity are brown, not red. You can also prick the chicken in the thickest part of the thigh to see if the juices are running clear – but I prefer not to because I’d rather keep those juices in the chicken! When the chicken s done, remove to a platter and let it rest about 15 minutes before you carve it. Cut off the wings, drumsticks, thighs and breast meat, but leave the carcass intact. You’ll use it for chicken soup, which I’ll write about in my next post.

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2 Responses to “Roast Chicken”

  1. Lisa Donovan January 10, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    I’ve never heard of zataar. Sounds like an interesting herb combo to try.

    • bnlewis January 10, 2013 at 2:45 am #

      I’d say what goes in it, but I think it depends on who is making/selling it! I have two packages right now; one says “thyme, sesame seeds and spices” (very helpful, no?) I checked online, and the general consensus seems to be that it includes sumac, sesame seeds and a few other herbs that may include thyme, oregano or marjoram. One time when I was buying some in an Arab grocery store, I mentioned that I used it on chicken and they were surprised — apparently that’s not a common usage! I think where I’ve seen it most in Middle East stores and restaurants is as a topping on pita (oil is brushed on top, and then pita sprinkled on before it’s baked) or as an addition to yogurt or soft cheese.

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