The Whole Chicken

Let me tell you the truth. At the French Culinary Institute, we had to perfectly roast a chicken EVERY day – and then perfectly butcher it, without messing up the perfectly browned skin. I aced my final exam, I had mastered the Frenched chicken breast, and then guess what? I never made roast chicken again. It felt oddly daunting and intimidating – and then quarantine struck and it was time to hop back on the horse. And guess what? I’m totally obsessed. It’s SO easy! My daughter loves the chicken jus. I love all the roasted vegetables drowned in schmaltz. The carcass makes the BEST chicken stock for my husband’s Tortellini en Brodo and the best chicken salad for me! So roast chicken is BACK on the menu at the Koffler household in a BIG WAY – and I hope I can encourage you to do the same.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 whole organic chicken, 2 lemons, 1 onion, carrots, celery, soy sauce, honey, salt, pepper, garlic powder

I like to prep my vegetables first. Rough chop your white onion, then slice about 6-8 stalks of celery and 4-6 peeled carrots. Toss your vegetables in a little olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and lay them on the bottom of a glass baking dish.

Next, remove your chicken from the packaging – give it a quick rinse under cold water – making sure there is nothing inside the body of the chicken – and pat the entire chicken dry. Season the INSIDE of the carcas with salt and pepper. Slice two lemons in half and shove all four halves of lemon into the inside of the chicken. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup of soy sauce with 1/4 cup of honey and mix well. Rub the entire chicken with the honey soy marinade (reserving a few tB.) and season the entire exterior of the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Put your chicken breast-side-down on top of the chopped veggies and roast for 10 minutes until the underside of your chicken gets nice and golden. Flip your chicken, cover the breasts again with the remaining marinade, REDUCE your oven heat to 350 degrees and cover the chicken with a tent of tinfoil. Roast for 60 minutes. After 60 minutes, remove the tinfoil, INCREASE your oven heat to 400 degrees and cook until the skin on your chicken is brown and crispy. Remove from the oven – RECOVER – and allow to cool for 15 minutes so the juices can settle.

Once the chicken had rested, I removed all of the veggies using a slotted spoon and arranged them around the permitter of my serving platter and then placed the entire roast chicken in the center. I strained all the remaining juices, skimmed the fat off the top, and served the jus separately. The only thing I added to the dish were Fried Artichokes just to add another vegetable with a crispier texture.

Then I carved the bird so that each my husband and I could have a sliced chicken breast to start:

I kept the remaining chicken on the table and we literally just picked at it – dipping each succulent bite in the seasoned jus and seriously went to town:

I can’t say enough about how happy I am that I have revisited roasting a whole chicken. While this recipe has a honey/soy marinade there are SO MANY things you can do to change the basic flavors of this dish. Swap out the vegetables for cabbage or fennel or Brussels sprouts. Switch up the seasoning with a spice rub or international marinade. JUST GIVE IT A TRY! Don’t be scared. You can’t mess up. And if you do, just use the carcass to make a soup so all is not lost 🙂

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