Classic roasted chicken: comfort food to combat the cold
There is almost nothing more satisfying, both to cook and to eat, than roasted chicken. This is one of our staples for Sunday supper. Michael Symon and I continue our debate on whether to brine or not to brine, and when we tested this theory with a blind taste test, even he chose the brined bird. Take that, Symon!
Brining is all about salinity and timing. So, when in doubt, brine for less time, not more. For very crisp skin, it is always better to brine the day before and allow the bird to dry in the fridge overnight, uncovered.
My Perfect Roasted Chicken from my newest cookbook, “America Farm to Table: Simple, Delicious Recipes Celebrating Local Farmers,” has two main steps: making the brine and making the chicken. The bird we used for this recipe in the book came directly from Wedge Oak Farm outside of Nashville. Karen Overton is fourth-generation farmer in Lebanon, Tennessee, and sells chicken, eggs, pork and duck to farmers’ markets and restaurants all around Music City. Their goal supports everything this cookbook stands for: small, diverse, sustainable family farming, where they gently and humanely raise food for their local region.
So there you have it. There’s a reason why locally roasted chicken is a classic dish … it’s easy, sustainable and tasty.
Mario Batali is the award-winning chef behind 24 restaurants
Perfect Roasted Chicken
For the brine
1 cup kosher salt
1 stick cinnamon
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1/2 cup apple cider
2 quarts boiling water
2 quarts ice
For the chicken
1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) free-range chicken
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, sliced thin
1 bunch fresh thyme
8 cloves garlic
6 sprigs fresh marjoram
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Make the brine:
In a plastic container or stainless-steel bowl large enough to hold the chicken, stir the salt, cinnamon, rosemary and cider together. Pour in the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add the ice and stir. Submerge the chicken in the brine. Place a plate on top of the bird to prevent it from floating. The chicken should be completely submerged throughout the brining process. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours, but no longer. Pour off the brine, then dry the chicken thoroughly with paper towels. Place the brined bird on a plate and place in the refrigerator to air-dry, uncovered, for at least another hour or — even better — overnight before roasting.
Make the chicken:
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Rub the whole chicken with the olive oil. In a small bowl, mix the salt and pepper and season the chicken inside and out with the mixture. Place 1 slice of lemon under the skin of each breast, centered beautifully. Place the thyme, garlic, marjoram, remaining lemon slices and onion in the chicken’s cavity.
Place the chicken on a rack set inside a roasting pan. Roast the chicken for 65 minutes at 475 degrees. Continue cooking the chicken until the thigh juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone, registers 160 degrees. Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter in a warm place and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Carve and serve.
Per serving: 490 calories; 33 g fat (8 g saturated fat; 61 percent calories from fat); 0 g carbohydrates; 0 g sugar; 182 mg cholesterol; 1,099 mg sodium; 46 g protein; 0 g fiber.