With Shabbos followed by Shavuot, I wanted an easy main course for Friday night so I went to my old standby–whole roast chicken, whole. There’s a certain elegance to roasting the whole bird, . It can be carved and it makes a statement–it looks formal, Shabbosdig.
And it is delicious. Whole roast chicken perfectly done is fabulous. Like a perfect black dress, it doesn’t need much, a bit of kosher salt, pepper, paprika and garlic and you’re good to go.
But unless you’ve got an at home rotisserie, roasting whole chicken can be tricky. The problem s technique–how high a heat to use and for how long. If you pump up the heat and cook quickly, your bird may have juicy flavorful breast but bloody thighs and hind quarters (ugh) . If you cook for too long, well the chicken will be done but the breast will be dry and tasteless. Ugh.
Recently, I stumbled on what may be the perfect compromise. A medium high oven 375 fahrenheit for an hour, possible an hour and ten minutes to make sure the chicken is done. Preheat–always preheat your oven and tie the legs together–that helps keep everything together so that it stays juice.
Bake for a half hour at 375 first breast side down basting periodically. Then flip over–this is a tricky process so work slowly and carefully., Then bake another half hour–ovens are idiosyncratic. If the chicken seems underdone, baste and give it another 10 to 15 minutes.. If the bird seems too pale grill for 3 minutes–that’s the equivalent of a tanning salon–otherwise you’ll have burned bird. .
Oh and spicing. You’ve got lots of choices Any barbeque sauce you like –brush on for the last 10 minutes of baking, or simply squeeze a whole lemon, stud a few garlic cloves in the cavity and add salt and pepper and za’ater if you can get your hands on some. It gives a wonderful Middle Eastern flavor. Good Shabbos. Happy Shavuos. Enjoy