I absolutely adore a roasted chicken. It is one of my favorite things to make OR eat. I have my own, personal recipe involving carmelized onions and rosemary that is absolutely delicious and makes the house smell outrageously good. As testament to my roast chicken obsession, after hearing Diane Keaton in the movie “Something’s Gotta Give” refer to Paris’ Le Grande Colbert’s roast chicken as “the best in the universe” I just had to check it out while we were there in May. Turns out she was right. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to making “Savor the Moment’s” Herb and Lemon-Roasted Chicken.
After reading the recipe, it was clear this chicken had all the makings of a tasty bird. Chopped fresh rosemary and thyme, garlic, and lemon…what’s not to love about that? The visually appealing idea of spreading the herb mixture under the skin also sounded great. I usually do my Thanksgiving turkey this way and it makes a beautiful presentation.
After chopping the herbs, I took my poultry shears and removed the wing tips of the chicken and then proceeded to loosen the skin from the breast and legs. This part definitely takes a bit of patience (not necessarily my forte!) but is relatively easy. You don’t want to tear the skin if at all possible, but, if it does happen, it’s not THAT big a deal. Once I had the skin pretty well separated I used my fingers to spread the herb mixture over the breast, thighs and legs – again a little patience required but well worth the effort. Once sufficiently “schmeared” with the mixture, I chucked the lemon rinds, garlic and fresh herbs into the poor bird’s, um, “cavity”, slathered on some olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkled liberally with kosher salt and pepper, and popped it into the pre-heated 450 degree oven.
There’s something about the aroma that begins to fill the house within the first 5-10 minutes after you put a chicken in the oven that is intoxicating. Within minutes the smell of rosemary, thyme, garlic and lemon were wafting through the kitchen…just dreamy! To go with our lovely bird I selected a medium-bodied California white wine that is a blend of Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier grapes called Blancaneaux. This particular wine is the proprietary white wine of Francis Ford Coppola’s Rubicon Estate. A proprietary wine is one referred to by name alone, not varietal or vineyard, and is usually a blend of several grape varieties. Proprietary labels are owned by certain producers to distinguish a particular wine that they feel has consistent qualities year after year. Other examples of proprietary wines include Opus One and Insignia. Tonight’s wine received a rating of 90 points and is a little pricey for an everyday wine at $40 retail. But tonight it was definitely worth it!
Herb and Lemon-Roasted Chicken (pg. 170)
2006 Rubicon Estate Blancaneaux Rutherford, CA
After reducing the oven temperature to 350 degrees and roasting the chicken for about 40 minutes longer, it was looking beautifully browned. I pulled it out of the oven and let it hang out while I made the gravy. I skimmed the fat from the drippings and transferred them to a saucepan rather than making it in the roasting pan. I actually used a baking sheet to cook the chicken because my roasting pan was too large for this bird. I do recommend using an appropriate size roasting pan if you have one handy even though the baking sheet worked just fine. Although I do occasionally suffer from gravy phobia (“making it” not “eating it” - just to clarify) this is not your traditional gravy. This gravy is made simply by adding water to the drippings to deglaze the pan and simmering until reduced to ¾ cup. It was so easy to make and also smelled fantastic while simmering away on the stove.
Once the gravy was reduced, I was excited to carve up that bird and see if it was as good as I’d hoped it would be. I am happy to report the chicken was dee-licious: crisp-skinned with the beautiful herb-design visible underneath and very tasty! The gravy was also fabulous - definitely worth the effort and lighter than traditional gravy which calls for the use of flour or some other thickening agent. The wine also went beautifully with the bird with its overtones of fig and apple with a nice acidity on the finish. Garnished with fresh herbs and lemon slices, the chicken really made a nice presentation. And although this recipe claims it “serves four” tonight, I’m afraid, it only served two!