I have had a smile on my face all weekend as the sun keeps shining and the temperatures keep rising. Seeing as the weather forecast for next week is calling for temperatures in the 60’s and maybe even 70’s, I thought it was a good time to post my go-to roast chicken recipe. The smell of sage and butter in the kitchen makes me think of summer picnics and get-togethers, whether in the backyard or by the lake. Enjoy this simply seasoned dish hot from the oven or as a cold meal packed for a picnic. It also makes excellent sandwiches when served up with tart cranberry sauce and wilted spinach.
If you are like Kerry and I at The Humble Foodie, one of your priorities is to eat well while keeping some money in your wallet. I already talked about how to make a roast, which can be done with a cheap cut of meat like pork butt or chuck roast. Another way to stick to your frugal budget is to learn to roast a whole chicken. You can buy a whole 4-pound chicken for $4-5 at Trader Joe’s, and the only special tool you need is a meat thermometer. It helps to have a baster, but you can also make use of a large spoon if you don’t have one on hand. If you don’t eat dairy, feel free to substitute additional olive oil for the butter. Roast chicken can be done many different ways, but I love this cooking method and simple seasoning.
Alicia’s Picnic Chicken – Makes one whole roast chicken (3-4 servings)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 4-lb chicken
1 1/2 lemons
8 cloves garlic
Plenty of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons grass-fed butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage or 1 tablespoon dried sage
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the bottom of a 13×9 glass baking dish with olive oil. Prepare your ingredients now: slice each lemon in half and set aside. Peel garlic cloves and smash with the flat side of a wide knife. Set aside. In a small bowl, melt butter in the microwave (about 20 seconds). In another small bowl, combine about 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and sage. Set aside.
Remove the insides of your chicken (don’t worry! TJ’s handily bags these up for you), and rinse, inside and out, under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels and place, breast side down, in baking dish. Pour melted butter over the chicken, rubbing to make sure it covers all areas, like under the wings. Now squeeze one half lemon over the chicken and discard, then stuff another half into the cavity. Add smashed garlic cloves to the cavity as well. Add a little of your salt-pepper-sage mixture to the cavity, then sprinkle the rest liberally over the chicken. At this point, you can tie the legs together with cooking twine to hold everything in the cavity if you would like.
Cook for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven. Squeeze another lemon half over the chicken and discard. Baste the chicken with pan drippings, then return to the oven and cook for one more hour, removing to baste every 15 minutes. After the chicken has cooked for 90 minutes total, remove and check temperature at the thickest part of the leg. You’re looking for a temperature of 165. At this point, remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 15-20 minutes. The resting is imperative, as it lets the juices circulate and keep the chicken moist–that is, particularly good for leftovers.
Source: inspired by the enormous quantity of dried sage I purchased last summer, and adapted from Elizabeth Frink’s Roast Lemon Chicken recipe, published in The Essential New York Times Cookbook (2010) by Amanda Hesser