Lemon-Rosemary Whole Roasted Chicken
I'm sure this recipe is all over the place, but it's really easy and its ridiculously good. People get scared about doing crap like this, because it seems so hard, but its actually really simple and you have some really awesome food. This is one of my favorite things to make for guests, because it's mostly hands-free and you have time to prepare other crap while you're roasting the chicken. You'll want to hump my leg after making this chicken. As a courtesy, please let me know before you commence humping.
1 Whole Chicken (anywhere from 3 - 6 lbs, but the bigger, the juicier, so keep that in mind)
Fresh or dried thyme
Half-stick of butter, softened
Salt and Pepper
If you have time, and a large enough pot, you'll want to brine the chicken the day before you actually roast it. Brining is a simple way to ensure that your chicken with be kick-ass and moist after it's exposed to the heat of your oven. If you're doing this recipe day-of, then ignore the brining instructions. The chicken should still be fantastic no matter what, I promise.
Get a large pot and fill it with salt water. For every cup of water, you'll need one tsp. of salt to have a good ratio. You want enough salt water to cover the whole chicken. If you're feeling adventurous, you can add herbs, spices, sugar, or white wine to the brining solution. You also may want to actually boil the salt water with the herbs to unlock the flavor of the herbing material. Make sure the water cools down to room temperature before you toss the chicken in it. To tell you the truth, I'm not entirely sure how much extra flavor the extra herbs add past the salt content, so play at your own risk. In my opinion, go fucking nuts! Can't hurt!
In case you happen to be curious, what brining does is really simple. Salt is absorbed into the cells of the chicken corpse (let's be honest here, that is definitely one dead-ass motherfucking chicken sitting in your fridge), and the cells get thirsty, drawing water into the cells. So the chicken gets salted and plumped by water due to the salt, resulting in some very moist chicken. Very moist chicken will cover most other major flavor-fuckups you may encounter during other parts of the cooking process. Get it? Your ass is saved, by me. You can thank me as you're eating the chicken later.
Take the fresh rosemary off its stalk and give it a nice chop. Doesn't have to be perfect. Put it into a small bowl. Also zest the whole lemon and put the zest into the small bowl too. Combine the rosemary and zest with the entire half-stick of butter, salt, pepper, thyme, and honey so you have a well balanced mixture. Taste the herb-butter to see how you like it. Give it a decent amount of salt and a lot of black pepper while you're at it. If it's a big chicken, remember to jack up the ratio of everything accordingly. If you make too much, that's much better than making too little.
If you've been brining the chicken, bring it out, rinse it off to remove any excess saltiness, and pat dry with a paper towel.
Here's the messy and fun part. Take some of your herb butter mixture and stuff it under the skin on both the top and the bottom of the chicken. Try and get as much under the skin as possible. You will have to use your hands for this, and it is totally gross, but can be fun. The more of the mixture, the stronger the flavor. Once you're done with this, you can salt and pepper the outside of the chicken as well as the inside of the cavity -- but be careful. Remember that there's salt and pepper in your herb-butter mixture so you'll have to make sure the outside is not too salty.
Chop the lemon into quarters and stuff into the cavity of the chicken, along with a big sprig of rosemary. The heated lemon and rosemary will release flavor into the rest of the chicken, mainly the breast. Ha ha, I said breast. Never fails to crack me up.
Drizzle a bit of honey on the top of the chicken, salt and pepper the skin, and you're all set to start roasting!
You'll want to roast the chicken approximately 20 minutes per pound of chicken. I say roast it at 350° F and up. There are a ton of ways to do this, but it really is up to you as long as you keep the 20 minute rule. You can look up different roasting methods in a cookbook or the internet. I'm a lazy fuckface and usually roast around 350° - 370° F the whole time. If you have a meat thermometer, the chicken is done when the meat of the thigh reaches 180° F.
Let the chicken rest for about ten minutes before you slice into it. If you cut in too early, all the precious juice will run out of the chicken and you'll start crying when your perfect chicken turns into dry crappy meat.
For me, the total preparation is usually about half an hour to forty-five minutes total, not including roasting and brining (which is all passive work). During roasting you can prepare anything else that'll take under an hour to make and you'll have a good meal with minimal effort.
See? This chicken is totally awesome! Do you love me yet?