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Roast Chicken with Herb Butter

November 11, 2009
Roast chicken with herb butter in Welcome to Michael's.

Roast chicken with herb butter from Welcome to Michael's.

Every chef has his or her own preferred way to make the perfect roast chicken. In this recipe, taken from the pages of Welcome to Michael’s, fragrant fresh herbs give the bird a wonderful aroma and flavor.

If you have the time, once the chicken is trussed, leave it overnight or longer in the refrigerator to allow the herb butter to season the meat deeply. Doing this also dry-ages the skin, helping it to separate more fully from the meat, so more of the juices stay inside the bird while the skin roasts to an unbelievable crispness.

Start with the freshest chicken you can find and you are guaranteed wonderful results.

Roast Chicken with Herb Butter

Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon thyme leaves
  • One 3 1/2- to 4-pound roasting chicken
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Place the butter in a shallow bowl. Set aside.

Place the garlic on a cutting board and, using the side of a large knife, begin rubbing the garlic at a 45-degree angle, working to turn it into a paste. Scrape the garlic paste into the butter. Add the parsley and thyme and, using a spatula, press into the butter mixture and blend well. When blended, scrape the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a small, plain tip.

Starting at the neck opening, very gently work your fingertips between the chicken breast meat and skin, taking care not to tear the skin as it separates from the meat. Once the skin is fully separated, carefully begin piping the herb butter between the skin and meat, working the butter into the meat until it is completely covered.

Using kitchen twine, truss the chicken to give it a more compact shape for roasting. To do this, cut a length of twine about 3 times as long as the chicken. Knot an end securely around the end of a drumstick. Then, pull the string between the thigh and breast on that side; loop it around the end of the wing bone; pull it across the back; loop it around the other wing bone; and then pass it between the other thigh and the other side of the breast, finally looping it around the end of the other drumstick before crossing the drumstick ends, pulling tight, and tying the string securely. Carefully trim the string ends with kitchen scissors or a small, sharp knife.

Place the trussed chicken on a rack in a small roasting pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, undisturbed, for 3 days (or, to “cheat,” overnight).

Before cooking, preheat the oven to 450°F.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Remove and discard the plastic wrap. Season the bird all over with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the chicken in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 275°F. Roast  for an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until the juices between the thigh and breast run clear when poked with the point of a small knife and/or an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the meat not touching bone. (The chicken will continue to cook as it rests.)

Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before transferring it to a cutting board and cutting it with a sharp knife into 8 serving pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, and 2 breasts cut into halves.

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