Monday, February 21, 2011

Lemon-thyme Roast Chicken

I love roast chicken because it's so easy to make and it's impressive at the same time.  The hands off nature of roast chicken means I can devote some attention to a good salad and risotto.   Roast chicken is also great because it feeds my family for two meals.  (The second meal is always a chicken noodle soup around here,  also super easy.)   This particular recipe combines a wet rub with a special roasting method to create a chicken that's juicy and flavorful.

Lemon-Thyme Roast Chicken

1 3.5-4 lb roasting chicken
1 lemon
2 T chopped garlic
1 T fresh thyme or lemon thyme
1 T kosher salt
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Start by removing the zest from the lemon with a fine mesh grater.   Combine in a small bowl with the salt, thyme, and garlic.   With your hands, spread the rub underneath the chicken skin.  Rub it all over the breast and as much of the thighs as you can reach.   Be careful to not stretch the skin too much and make sure the rub is spread evenly without clumping.  It's usually pretty easy to get in under the skin from the neck end.  You may need to keep a knife handy to cut the connective tissue right under the skin, especially right at the neck opening.   Cut the zested lemon in half and shove a lemon half inside each of the chicken cavities. 

Place prepared chicken in a roasting pan on a rack.   Pour 1 cup of water into the roasting pan (don't pour it over the chicken, just pour it to the side.)  Roast for 40 minutes.   Rotate pan in oven and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.  Continue to roast the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees, about another 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest for ten minutes before carving. 

If you are going to use a 5lb bird, it's best to increase the time at the front end when the oven temperature is lower in order to maintain the moist texture of the bird.   You do not need to increase the amount of the rub.  The recipe will make enough for a bigger bird.

For those of you keeping track of my $5 or under dinners:   1 roast chicken for $5+1 lemon at 50 cents+garlic and salt at lower than 25 cents+free thyme (grow it myself)=$5.75/two meals=$2.62 per meal.   I probably went over my $5 limit on Valentine's day but not by much.  Remember my home made turkey broth?  Home made broth takes care of more than half the cost of making risotto.   It only takes 1 cup of arborio rice to make enough risotto to feed my family for one meal.   That's 75 cents worth when I buy it in bulk from Winco (my favorite grocery store that only exists in the western half of the US.  The bulk bins are a great place to find really good deals on food.)  I use about 75 cents worth of parmesean, so one batch of risotto costs me $1.50 to make. 

So Valentine's day dinner is up to $4.12 leaving me 88 cents for my salad.  I doubt I was able to make a salad for that amount so we'll just say that valentine's day was a special occasion.   The soup I made later in the week cost me around $4 to make so the two meals evened each other out.   Isn't it nice when it works that way?

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