I really do like chicken. I like the dark meat from a well cooked leg, moist lean breast meat and crispy skin. There are really good chickens available and I suggest you search them out. I taste tested four different birds recently and the local brand Misty Knoll was the hands down winner. It was better than my favorite national band "Smart Chicken" by a smidge. It also cost 33% more. The Smart Chicken label is air cooled and has no messy purge compared to 2 ounces in a regular chicken. The cheapest chicken proved once again you get what you pay for. Let's look at three keys to succesful roasting.
Besides owning an Aga
Seasoning Before you do anything rinse off the bird inside and out. Pat dry with a paper towel and season generously with sea salt. Season the inside of the cavity as well. Any herbs on the outside will dry out and do little to transfer any flavor. You can put them in the cavity prior to trussing or stuffing. Be generous. Rosemary, thyme and marjoram are my fav's. Same goes with garlic. I whole head stuffed inside is good, no need to peel just break up the cloves.
To truss or not to truss Why do we truss poultry? Is it to keep the chicken together? No they only fall apart if you overcook them by several hours as my mother in-law does every fourth Thursday in Novemeber. We truss them to close up the cavity for more even cooking. If we leave it open the warm air gets inside and cooks the bird from the inside drying out the breast meat. We can simply cut up onions and lemons and fill the cavity then tie the legs to close it. This will keep everything cooking evenly and predictably. Smart Chickens come trussed already.If you need to truss your bird run string around the neck under the bird and then tie it closed where the two legs meet. Push the legs down and back to keep them tight closing the cavity opening.
Resting This may be the most important tip. Let the bird rest in a warm place, not in the holding oven. On top of or off to the edge of the Aga. I try to let things rest for 1/3 the amount of the cooking time. When the bird is pulled from the oven the outside is much hotter than the inside. We want the whole roast to even out its temperature. You also get the bonus of your guests looking at it and saying nice things about you.
Roasted Chicken Aga Style
- 1 nice fresh whole chicken 3 1/2 lb on average
- sea salt
- 1 lemon
- 1 head garlic
- 1 onion
- herbs fresh
- butchers twine aka cotton string
Follow my advice from above and place bird on a rack in the Baking Oven. Set timer for 45 minutes. Timer goes beep. Remove chicken, baste the breast with a little water and back in the oven in the opposite direction. Set timer for another 45 minutes. Timer goes beep. Remove bird and let rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes or more.
Note This is a guideline, bigger birds take longer. If the juices that accumulate while resting have a redish hue the bird is under done. If you pour out any juice from the cavity and it is still a little bloody the bird is under done. You can also check by taking the drumstick firmly in hand and giving it a twist. It should break away from the thigh bone easily