They say that many a chef is judged by how good their roast bird is. I have tried many different ways over the years. Debating whether or not to truss the bird with string (Julia) or cut slits in the skin and shove the legs in there. (Anthony Bourdain) Starting with high heat to sear and then lowering it and basting it throughout (I still do like this method – more on that later) or Julia Child’s recipe that involves turning the bird every 15 minutes (more work) or Jen’s method (our long term nanny for the boys) of covering it and roasting it longer. My brother, Mark, thought hers was the best! When he would come to visit in NJ, he would request Jen’s chicken for the first night of dinners. Then there’s Zuni Café’s version of salting the chicken several days ahead of time (really a brining of sorts) and then roasting in a not too dissimilar way from the method I like below. Tell me your favorite! I think this is the best quick roasted chicken.
This is a version adapted from Mark Bittman and my oldest son on the way to cook it, with my added touches. They say great chefs never throw anything away. I believe in that so I always save my parmesan cheese rinds. Shove them into the cavity of a bird or throw into your risotto and you will be amazed at how much flavor they impart. Using them in a roast chicken provides a parmesan flavored sauce, mixed with the chicken juices that is just divine. (That’s the end of the cheese rind sticking out of the cavity – don’t you go thinking of other things!)
THE BEST QUICK ROASTED CHICKEN – serves 4
One 3.5 lb. chicken (I like Bell and Evans, still)
Fine grind sea salt
Fine grind pepper (I use Tex-Joy brand)
4-5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
Parmesan cheese rinds
20 – 25 cremini mushrooms, washed, stems trimmed a little bit and left whole
Preheat oven to 450 degrees with a cast iron skillet or heavy ovenproof skillet in the center of the oven. Trim the ends off of your mushrooms, wash, pat dry with a towel and let air dry. Thoroughly wash and dry your bird, inside and out. Distribute and shove sliced garlic, along with the thyme sprigs, under the skin on both sides of the bird – both breasts and legs and both sides on the back. Be careful not to rip the skin. Take the half of lemon and squeeze it inside the cavity to refresh the bird. Salt and pepper the cavity. Place the squeezed lemon half in there, along with more sliced garlic and thyme and shove in the parmesan cheese rind.
Pat dry the outside of the bird again, salt and pepper the outside.
Take the pan out of the oven and leave a hot pad on the handle immediately so you don’t forget and grab it. Quickly put the bird in the pan, breast side up (it will not stick) and shove mushrooms all around. It will be snug and please remember this pan is blazing hot so be careful.
Shove the hot pan with chicken and mushrooms back into the oven and roast for 35 – 40 minutes, undisturbed, until meat thermometer reaches 155 degrees. Remove chicken immediately from the hot pan by grabbing the cavity with long tongs and let rest on a platter, for at least 10 minutes before carving. Pour juices from pan on top and scatter mushrooms around. Please remember again to use a good hot pad on the handle. Too many times I have grabbed one of these, forgetting it had been in that crazy hot oven. (For burns, tea tree oil is the best but is not a good smell around food.)
Now, you tell me if this isn’t the easiest and fastest way to serve a delicious, moist, mouth watering roast chicken?
Delicious and easy roast chicken with mushrooms
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