Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lemon and Basil Roast Chicken

OK, it actually has some orange in there also. And garlic. But that makes for a long recipe title. Fact is, this is just some darn good chicken. It's lemony-basily-orangy-garlicy and very moist. I actually take the leftovers (if there are any) and make chicken salad sandwiches the next day. Yeah - this is a two-fer.

I'll let you in on a little secret of how I get it so moist. I brine it. I know, that probably seems like a lot of work for a little chicken, but that's how they turn out the best and when I cook, I want the best bang for my buck. That's just how I roll. If you don't want to go to all the trouble of making the brine and soaking the chicken overnight, you can put the thawed chicken in an ice water bath for a few hours and it will help to re-hydrate the chicken. Yes, unless you are independently wealthy and can afford fresh (which I cannot), then your frozen little bird is going to be a bit dehydrated. Give it a shot, what do you have to lose.

Lemon and Basil Roast Chicken
1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs
1 lemon
1 orange
1/4 c semi-dry white wine
3 cloves garlic,quartered
1 bunch fresh basil (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons butter (not margarine)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Rinse chicken well (remove all gizzards), pat dry and place in a roasting pan breast side up.

Quarter orange and halve lemon. Squeeze most of the orange juice into a bowl and the juice of half the lemon. Reserve orange. Slice the other half of the lemon. To the juice add white wine and stir.

With your fingers, very carefully separate the skin from the breast meat. Place 2 slices of lemon between skin and meat on each side of breast. Stuff the chicken (loosely) with a few reserved orange quarters, lemon quarters, basil, garlic and butter. Pour juice / wine mixture over chicken, getting some under the skin and in the cavity. Salt and pepper the skin.

Bake at 325° for approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours (basting at least once half-way through the baking time) or until a meat thermometer reads 165°. If the chicken skin becomes too brown, cover with foil for remainder of baking time.