When you were 'falling back' this morning, I was out mowing the lawn and discovered that my mostly petulant Rosemary bush had decided to cooperate and had a plentiful offering of fresh rosemary to be plucked.
Fall is such a wonderful time to begin to find the oven and stove again. Rosemary chicken is a simple dish that smells rich and inviting and tastes great.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
1 small baking hen washed, and all entrails removed. Pat dry.
1 baking dish with a lid. Ceramic provides a juicier chicken, pyrex is fine, grease the dish and lid
10 stems of rosemary, washed and patted dry
1/4 stick of butter or olive oil
Optional garlic cloves, whole... 3 or 4 small
Salt. This can be sea salt, kosher or table salt or pink salt. Each provides a different visual texture and taste.
Run your hand in between the skin and the chicken on as many sides as you can, slowly and gently without tearing the skin.
Take the stems rosemary and string them under the skin. If your chicken is large enough, this can be done to generate a pattern which will be showy and visible once the chicken is cooked. Do this top and bottom, until all the stems are used.
Turn the wings under. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic if you like.( I am a purist on this recipe, but do use the garlic if I use the mix below) Tie the legs with kitchen twine or hook with copper wire. This keeps juices in the chicken and provides uniformity. If your chicken is small this is often unnecessary.
Put the bird in the baking dish.
Rub the bird with salt all over the exposed area ( which should be the breast and legs, mostly). If you use too much salt, the bird will obviously be too salty and inedible.
Dot the bird with as much of the 1/4 c stick of butter as you like.
Put the bird in the preheated oven for about 1 hour.
Check the bird, baste with own juices.
Cover the bird and reduce heat to 250 and cook for another 1-3 hours. Baste if you like. A meat thermometer can be very helpful in determining done-ness, as it will show you when the bird has reached an internal temperature that meets the standards as cooked through. The size of the chicken of course determines how long it will take to cook. Old cook tricks: the ease with which chicken legs can be moved, and the absence of red flesh or blood increases the chance that the chicken is cooked thoroughly.
I bake the heart, neck and such in a separate dish and save ... see below +++
The chicken can be cooled for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. This makes a great dinner with Kentucky Wonder flat green beans and stuffing or baked acorn squash.
An alternative spice to the fresh Rosemary is Herbes de Provence, a blend of thyme and rosemary and lavender among other things. This pre-mixed spice is found in most stores. Typically, I prefer more lavender and add same to my baking in a dish like this. Dry herbs are applied WITH the salt on the outside of the chicken, and so it bakes with the butter or olive oil, herbs and salt as a crust on the chicken. ( BTW this is also GREAT as a variation on chicken wings for holiday gatherings.) baking is the same.
+++This recipe generates a good bit of liquid in the baking pan.
This liquid can have a two fold use.
It can be strained and used for soup stock, or can be added in a stock pot to the carcass once the chicken has been deboned and this boiled to remove all remaining chicken pieces and produce chicken stock. I typically directly transfer the carcass, along with the liquid and the neck, heart and livers into my crockpot, for a low maintenance process that can be tended to at my convenience. The stock can be strained and frozen in 1 cup quantities for future use, or strained and moved directly into a soup making process of the cook's choice.
Making the soup stock is a dollar stretcher and perfect for home made soup of your choosing, like Double Bean Pumpkin Soup.
OR it can be strained, and the liquid reserved and fat used in the baking pan to generate a cream gravy or white sauce to serve with the chicken. Follow your favorite recipe for either.
Since I typically get a small chicken, there isn't enough to do both ( make gravy and make stock).
Making the soup stock is a dollar stretcher and perfect for home made soup of your choosing, like Double Bean Pumpkin Soup. http://www.examiner.com/article/double-bean-and-pumpkin-winter-stew-reci...
Baking chicken with rosemary is a wonderful aromatic experience that is relaxing and tasty, perfect for transitional Fall to Winter days.
This fresh bread recipe generates artisan baker results even from a novice and it is also a snap and goes great with these dishes. http://www.examiner.com/article/amazing-homemade-bread-for-dinner-or-guests