Chicken Revisited

“Chicken, again?”

If you are tired of your recipes using chicken parts, consider preparing whole chicken. Roasting a chicken whole and bringing it to the table on an attractive platter surrounded by herbs or vegetables makes for an impressive presentation that can hold its own beside any roast. Even better, the price per pound of whole chicken is usually even lower than that of chicken parts.

Whole chicken is usually tied before roasting, even if you are stuffing it. Trussing or tying a chicken keeps it neat. In addition, the smaller parts like wings and drumsticks will burn if hanging away from the body, while keeping them close allows them to bake more evenly. Trussing a chicken is pretty simple:

  1. Cut a length of kitchen twine approximately 24 inches long.
  2. With the bird on its back (tail away from you), place the middle of the string under the chicken, bring both sides up and cross over the wings.
  3. Bring the strings across the chicken.
  4. Wrap the string around the end of each drumstick and pull to draw the legs together, crossing strings over each other again.
  5. Wrap the strings around the tail and pull tightly.
  6. Tie securely.

Trussing a chicken is not always necessary. You can also simply tie the legs together so when the chicken cooks the legs don’t end up sticking out. Try it both ways and see which you like better. You can also use this technique for other poultry such as Cornish hen or duck.

Always pat the chicken dry with paper towels. A dry chicken will result in crisp skin; wet chicken will steam and the skin will be flabby. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and spices inside and out — here’s the perfect opportunity to add flavor from the inside out.

Classic Roast Chicken with Gravy

  • 1 stick margarine, room temperature
  • 1 Tbs. fresh parsley, checked and chopped
  • 5–6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
  • 1 4–5 pound whole chicken, rinsed, patted dry
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 medium onions, peeled, quartered lengthwise
  • 15 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 tsp. flour

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix margarine, chopped herbs, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in bowl; blend well to make herb “butter” (with pareve margarine, obviously).

Sprinkle cavity of chicken with salt and pepper; fill with herb sprigs. Starting at the neck, slide fingers under the skin, loosening skin as you work toward the legs. Spread 3 tablespoons herb margarine under skin on breast and upper leg meat. Place chicken on a rack in a large roasting pan and tie the legs together loosely to hold its shape. Scatter onions around chicken. Brush chicken and onions with 2 tablespoons herb margarine; sprinkle with some more salt and pepper.

Roast the chicken, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove pan from the oven. Scatter garlic cloves around chicken. Brush chicken, onions and garlic with 1 tablespoon herb margarine. Roast chicken and vegetables another 30 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon herb margarine for sauce; brush remainder on chicken and vegetables. Continue to roast until chicken is golden, about 30 minutes longer or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180° F.

Insert a wooden spoon into the cavity and tilt the chicken so that juices drain back into the pan. Transfer chicken to platter; surround with onions and garlic. Cover lightly with foil.

Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add wine; bring to a simmer, scraping up browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Spoon off fat and discard it. Pour juices into a medium saucepan. Stir reserved 1 tablespoon herb margarine and flour in small bowl to smooth paste. Bring pan juices to simmer; whisk in paste. Simmer gravy until slightly thickened, whisking occasionally, about 4 minutes. Season gravy with salt and pepper to taste. Serve chicken with gravy.

Roast Chicken with Onions, Mushrooms and Asparagus

  • 10 oz. pearl onions or 3 large onions
  • 1 4–5 pound whole chicken
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 Tbs. margarine at room
  • temperature, divided
  • 1 lemon
  • 10 oz. cremini or white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bag frozen asparagus
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Rinse and pat chicken dry. Rub 2 tablespoons softened margarine into skin over entire chicken. Season chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in half and put one half in cavity and squeeze remaining half over chicken.

Roast chicken in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Baste chicken with accumulated juices, then continue to roast, basting about every 10 minutes, 30 minutes more. Scatter onions around chicken and continue to roast, turning onions and basting every 10 minutes, until chicken is golden and a thermometer inserted into a fleshy part registers 180°F (juices will run clear), cook 25 minutes more.

Transfer roast chicken to a platter, then discard string and cover chicken loosely with foil. Transfer onions to a small bowl and set aside. Pour pan juices into a small bowl (do not clean roasting pan). Skim and discard fat from juices.

Place roasting pan on your stovetop over high heat. Add wine and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Add pan juices from bowl, and mushrooms; then boil until liquid is reduced to about 1/3 cup.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons margarine to the pan along with onions and asparagus. Cook over moderately high heat, shaking pan, until margarine is just incorporated and vegetables are glazed. Season vegetables with salt and pepper and spoon them around chicken. Serve immediately.