Perfect Roast Chicken with Compound Herb Butter

There isn’t much I like about winter. Really, there isn’t. Snow? I hate it. Gray skies? I’m not a fan. Frozen temperatures? The absolute worst! I’ve tried (maybe not too hard), but I just can’t embrace it. Not surprisingly, the things that bring me joy in winter… take place in my kitchen and not outside. When summer draws to an end, and my heart is breaking, the thought of roasting chicken again helps to ease my pain. Okay, so I may have overdramatized my hatred for winter, but only slightly. My love for this roasted chicken, however, cannot be overstated.

Roasted chicken screams family, gathering, comfort, and love. Honestly, it’s one of my all-time favorite dinners. Just the aroma of the chicken roasting will draw everyone into the kitchen, harassing you until it comes out of the oven. There are never any arguments about finishing their dinner when my children are served roasted chicken. Crisp skin and tender, flavorful meat, served with GRAVY! I would seriously have to question if they were my children if they didn’t clean their plates.

Perfect roast chicken is simple to prepare, requires no special equipment or exotic ingredients and the hands-on preparation is minimal. Sounds doable, right? Yes, it is… with the following of a few critical steps. 1. Allow raw chicken to sit at room temperature for about an hour before roasting. 2. Season chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. 3. After an hour of sitting at room temperature, loosen the skin and rub softened compound butter under the skin including the legs. 4. Roast at a high temperature initially then drop down to lower temp for beautiful, brown, crisp skin and tender meat. 5. Use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness. 6. Allow for resting time before slicing.

Once you get the method down, it becomes routine. I roast two chickens at once, every week. I have a large family, so roasting two chickens at once is essential for meal planning during the week. We will eat one with mashed potatoes, vegetables and gravy. The other chicken is now ready to be used for another dinner, Italian wedding soup, chicken and biscuits or chicken salad, are some of my favorite options. It’s helpful to have dinner partially made when life is busy. With the roasting complete, dinner is a snap to throw together and options are endless. And the chicken carcasses… don’t ever discard them. Even if you’re not up for making stock during the week, they freeze wonderfully for when you do have time. And… no purchased stock can compare to homemade!

My family, gathered around the table enjoying food and conversation, makes my heart happy (even in the dead of winter). I hope your family enjoys this perfectly roasted chicken as much as mine does!

Yields: 2 roasted chickens

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole roasting chickens (about 3 lbs. each)
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion
  • salt and pepper

Gravy

  • 4 tablespoons reserved fat from roasting
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine or an additional 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • reserved pan juices (not fat)
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

1 – 2 hours before you plan on roasting your chickens, remove them from the refrigerator. Slice the onion into 1/4″ thickness and place it in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Rinse and pat dry the chickens, placing them on top of the sliced onions. Season chickens liberally, inside and out, with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 425° (about 20 minutes before you’re ready for roasting)

After the chickens have sat at room temperature for 1-2 hours, make the compound butter.  In a small mixing bowl, combine softened butter and finely chopped herbs, mixing until you have a well-incorporated paste. Carefully loosen the skin on the breast and legs. Spread the compound butter under the loosened skin of each chicken. Truss chickens with kitchen twine and Place the roasting pan with chickens on the center rack of the preheated oven. Roast at 425 for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn down to 350° and continue to roast for an additional 45 minutes. The chickens should be removed when the temperature on an instant-read thermometer reads 160° when tested at the thickest part of the thigh. The chicken is going to continue to cook while it rests for 15 minutes. Be sure to give the chicken time to rest. You will lose all the juices to your cutting board if you don’t.

 

Make the gravy while the chicken is resting.

Pour all fat and juices from the pan into a glass measuring cup. In a medium saucepan place 4 tablespoons of the fat, discard the rest.  Place saucepan over medium heat and add the flour, stirring with the whisk until smooth. Slowly add the wine, followed by the pan juices to the roux, whisking the entire time. Whisk in the chicken stock adding more if the consistency is too thick. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed.

 

 

 

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