There’s something about a chicken roasting in the oven that reminds me of home. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that my mom makes one of the best roast chickens of anyone I know. As a child coming home from school or a friend’s house, I could always tell when there was a chicken in the oven from the moment I walked through the door. The smell, which was utterly heavenly, would easily give it away. Rosemary, garlic, and crisp golden chicken skin, all swirling in a sea of warm coziness. Not to mention the heavenly pan gravy that always accompanied the chicken. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
She still makes roast chicken for me frequently when I go home to visit, though it’s usually not a planned event. It’s more of a:
Mom: “Hey, what do you want to eat for dinner tonight?”
Me: “I don’t know. Whatever you have in the house is fine.”
Mom: “Great. I’ve got an organic, free range, [insert 10 more adjectives to describe the chicken’s upbringing] chicken in the fridge. Why don’t I roast it?”
My ears always perk up when she says this because I know there’s no one in the world who can prepare a chicken, not even a fancy-pants restaurant, like her. She definitely earns the title of Best Chicken Roaster in my book. Her “birds,” as she calls them, are crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and oozing with flavor in both the meat and gravy. Not to mention they’re simple to make and provide the perfect starting point for a chicken gumbo if you don’t finish the whole thing.
After years of observing and eventually cooking roast chicken alongside her, I’ve learned most of her tricks. So today I’m going to leave you with a classic roasted chicken, tricks and tips included. But since it’s the final day of Truffle Week, I’ve spruced it up a bit in keeping with our theme.
This roast chicken is complemented by spicy garlic, rich truffles, and a thick, caramel-colored truffle pan gravy. And all I have to say, fork in mouth, is: Sorry, mom. You just might lose your title over this one. 😉
- • 1 whole chicken (4-6 lbs)
- • ¼ cup of butter, cut into ½ tablespoon pieces
- • ½ bulb of garlic, peeled and smashed
- • 2 sprigs of rosemary
- • ½ lemon
- • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- • 2 teaspoons of dried onion flakes
- • 2 teaspoons of fresh cracked pepper
- • 2 cubes of gusto tartufo (truffle bouillon) OR 2 teaspoons of truffle salt
- • fresh shaved truffle, to taste (optional)
- • Drippings remaining in dutch oven
- • ¼ cup of white wine
- • 1 cube of truffle bouillon (or chicken bouillon) + ½ cup of water OR ½ cup of chicken stock
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken in a dutch oven (or a roasting pan if you don’t have a dutch oven.) Place butter pieces all around the chicken – a couple in the cavity, a few tucked gently under the skin, and the rest at the bottom of the dutch oven. Pour the olive oil (or for extra umph you could use garlic olive oil or truffle oil) all over the bird, coating it with your hands. Tuck the sprigs of rosemary under the skin. Sprinkle truffle salt (if not using truffle bouillon), pepper, and onion flakes all over the chicken and in the cavity. I give rough estimates above for the amounts, but it’s really up to your pallet to decide. It also depends on the size of the bird. If using truffle bouillon, crush the bouillon cubes up using your fingers. Tuck them under the skin, in the bird, and rub on the outer part of the skin. Do the same thing with the smashed garlic. Use a micrograter to shave a small amount of the fresh truffle over the top part of the chicken and place the half lemon next to the chicken.
- Place chicken in oven, uncovered, for approximately 1.5 hours, or until the chicken turns golden on the outside and is cooked all the way through (see notes). Baste after 45 minutes. When done, remove chicken from dutch oven, baste once more, and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
- Next prepare the pan gravy. A pan gravy is just a gravy that’s made from the juices of whatever meat you’ve just finished cooking. In this case, it begins with the drippings from the chicken. While the chicken is resting, skim off as much of the fat that remains in the dutch oven. Also remove the lemons and any other large chunks from it so that only the chicken drippings remain. (If it seems particularly clumpy, you can strain it through a colander.) Place the dutch oven on your stove and heat the chicken drippings over high heat. Boil down until just a thin layer is left in the dish. If it starts to burn to the bottom of the oven, turn down the heat. Then, deglaze the dish by adding ¼ cup of white wine. Continue to cook over high heat. Add ½ cup of water and one truffle bouillon cube. If you don’t have truffle bouillon, use chicken bouillon or chicken stock instead. Stir to mix the contents, bringing the whole mixture to a boil. Boil for approximately 5-10 minutes or until it has reached your desired thickness.
If you notice the outside of your chicken starting to brown too much while the inside is still not finished cooking, place a piece of tin foil loosely over the bird in the oven until it is cooked all the way through.
Because the thigh is the thickest part of the meat, it is also the slowest to cook. Position the bird in your oven with the thighs closest to the back. For the first half of it’s cooking, angle it pointing towards the back left corner of the oven. On the last half, angle it pointing towards the back right corner. This will help the thighs cook evenly with the rest of the meat. (This trick also works with larger birds like turkey!)