Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken
The quickest way to my husband’s heart is a roasted chicken. He suggests it for dinner at least once per month. I will admit that I also love roasted chicken, which is why I make it quite often at his request. There is simply nothing better than the smell of that tasty bird roasting away–skin getting crisp, insides staying juicy.
Our favorite source for whole chickens is a local one. They just taste better and more like, well—chicken. I believe the key to roasting a chicken that has enjoyed a life outdoors, roaming around and getting plenty of exercise, is brining it first. Brining is the technique of submerging the whole chicken in a salt solution for a length of time before roasting. The meat absorbs some of the liquid and the salt making it delicious and juicy. Brining, like most techniques, is part science and part playing with flavor.
The science part is the ratio of salt to water. A quick search of the internet reveals that most brines suggest a ratio of 4 tablespoons of Kosher salt to 1 quart (4 cups) of water. Of course you can increase the salt in this ratio; however, keep in mind that the meat will absorb it.
The playing with flavor part of brining is where you can put your own spin on it. Aromatics, citrus, spices, herbs all contribute to a subtle flavor in your final product. Think about building flavor and continue that flavor through the roasting process by using seasonings that complement your brine.
Make sure to dry off your chicken after it has been brined! Too much liquid on the surface makes it difficult to season and will steam it instead of roasting it. You want that crispy skin, right?! If you have time, allow the rinsed and dried chicken to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before seasoning and roasting. This will result in an even more crispy skin and will have you making roasted chicken as often as I do.
1 whole chicken, thawed
1 stick butter
1 small onion
Salt & Pepper
8 cups water
4-5 cups of ice
½ cup kosher salt
3 tsp. sugar
1 head of garlic
5 – 5” sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 Tbs. whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Brining your chicken:
Cut the ends off of the lemon and discard. Slice the rest of the lemon into wheels. Set aside.
Cut the top off of the head of garlic to reveal the garlic cloves. Set aside.
Combine 4 cups of the water, salt, sugar, peppercorns, and bay leaves in an 8 qt. stockpot.
Over medium-high heat, stir the mixture until the salt and sugar dissolve and the mixture starts to simmer.
Turn off the heat and add rosemary, garlic, and lemon slices. Stir to combine. Allow the mixture to cool for about 20 min.
Add the remaining four cups of cold water to the stock pot.
Add the ice to the stockpot and stir. Check the water to make sure it has completely cooled.
Place the chicken in the stockpot and push it down into the brine to ensure that it is submerged.
Put the lid on the stockpot and place it in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours up to overnight.
To prepare your chicken for roasting:
Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse off excess salt and brine ingredients. Discard the brine.
Using paper towels, pat the chicken dry. This will ensure proper roasting.
Roasting your chicken:
Place chicken in a roasting pan and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle desired seasonings and/or salt and pepper all over the chicken.
Place the onion and the rosemary inside the body cavity
Roast the chicken at 375℉ on the middle rack until a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching bone) reads at least 165℉. A 3-4 pound chicken usually takes about 2 – 2 ½ hours.
If you find that the chicken is browning unevenly, rotate it halfway through the roasting time.
Allow the chicken to rest for about 20 minutes before carving.