One of the first classes on my culinary school schedule was devoted solely to the art of preparing poultry. I drove to class that day over the moon excited about tackling the preparation of poultry.
Finally, I was going to learn how to prepare a roasted chicken without mangling it with kitchen twine and drying it out to a tasteless plate of bones.
Sadly… my excitement faded shortly after class began.
Not only was half the chicken skin missing on the chicken legs, due to my wrangling the chicken with kitchen twine, my lovely chicken was terribly over cooked and nearly a platter of chicken bones. (The Thanksgiving dinner scene in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation came to mind)
After all my classmates roasted chickens had been presented, it was my turn to step up and talk about my very dark and dismal looking roasted chicken. Something I did NOT want to do.
My chef instructor was quite the perfectionist. A somewhat gruff and bigger than life demeanor – he was a wee bit intimidating. He appeared absolutely frustrated by my inability to roast a chicken to perfection and decided to make an example of my over cooked chicken.
“Bennett” he said, in his thick German accent. “Zee. cheeken. iz dead! No need to keel it again.” Yes, I’ve spelled and punctuated the words just the way I remember him saying this in the class. Although I could feel my face turning several shades of bright red, I knew then what he was trying to tell me. Stop over cooking the chicken!
The key to making a perfect roasted chicken? Don’t take it out of the oven until it’s reached an internal temperature of 165F. And, be sure to purchase a local, hopefully pasture raised, chicken. Chicken that has traveled across the country to rest in your local market’s refrigerated poultry bin is probably not going to yield a tasty or moist result. Finding a local farmer that sells fresh chicken to your local co-op or market or even to the public, is definitely the tastier and moister choice. And, you will be helping your local farmer stay in business, which supports the local community.
If you live in Western Washington, check out the online marketplace for local produce, poultry, eggs, meat and seafood called Farmstr. Coming soon to new locations in the Pacific Northwest and beyond!
In honor of over-roasted chicken, I thought I’d share my grandma’s method for a moist and tasty chicken using mayonnaise. Yep, mayonnaise. Grandma used to massage mayonnaise all over her roasters before popping them in the oven. And when she ran out of mayo, she used butter.
I took this mayonnaise slathering technique a little further and incorporated fresh chopped herbs and garlic into the mayo and then added the step of placing some of that herb mayo under the skin of the chicken breast, legs and thighs. This creates not only flavor, but a tender, juicy roasted chicken.
Delicious Wishes and loads of love,
Fresh Herb and Mayonnaise Roasted Chicken
The key to creating a perfectly roasted chicken is making sure you remove the chicken from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 165F. Testing the meat temperature at the joint between the thigh and leg is best. Then take it out of the oven and tent the chicken with foil and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes. This will raise the internal temperature another 5 degrees and allow the juices to re-distribute. The final result should be a moist and perfectly roasted chicken.
1 4-5lb fresh, organic whole chicken
1/3 cup organic regular or homemade mayonnaise
Small handful of fresh herbs finely chopped. (thyme, oregano, Italian parsley, basil, chive, rosemary)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, quartered
Salt and Pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
Mix together the fresh herbs, garlic and mayonnaise. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper.
Salt and pepper the cavity of the chicken and stuff with the lemon quarters. And some extra garlic cloves if you like.
Next spread about half the herb mayonnaise under the skin of the chicken breast, leg and thighs. It’s typically fairly tough but if it breaks don’t worry… it’ll still be fabulous.
Slather the remaining mayonnaise over the outside of the chicken and then lightly season with some cracked black pepper and salt.
Place it in a roasting pan or baking dish, or even on a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.
Once the chicken has reached 165F, remove it from the oven and tent it with some aluminum foil. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes before carving or breaking down to serve.
I adore this roasted chicken all by itself but during the spring months I serve it with baby spring greens tossed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Or serve it with this lovely spring salad from Pink Patisserie. A lovely meal!
** Rarely do I truss my chicken unless I’m serving a roasted chicken for guests or a holiday meal. It does help seal the cavity and therefore technically keep the chicken from drying out. However, I’m typically in a time crunch to get the chicken in the oven and stuffing the cavity with extra herbs and lemon will usually achieve the same result. The chicken just won’t look quite so Julia Child. But it’ll still taste delicious. However, if you’d like to learn how to truss a chicken, click here. It’s a great technique to add to your culinary skills. Bon Appetit!