Roast Chicken

February 10, 2012

Raise your hand if you like dry chicken.  Thought not.   My multi-year quest for moist oven-roasted chicken has been realized  over several attempts in a row. To do this, I did not climb any mountains, fight a lion or find a sword in a lake. Unfortunately.   Still, I  present you with The Grail.    You need a 3-4 pound chicken (ha),  plain Greek yogurt, a head of garlic, and some  kind of steak or poultry rub.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   If you have a gas oven, even better, but electric will do.    I have done this with grocery store non hormone chickens, organic chickens, sometimes even farmer’s market just-plucked. It always works.    You split the chicken in half along the breastbone to butterfly it. Spread is as flat as you can in a roasting pan.  Then you season it all over with poultry rub (non spicy).  I like Santa Maria rub, lately, a salt and pepper rub sold at Whole Foods.

The chicken is pretty flat. You get even cooking and white meat stays moist.

This time I put about 2o whole cloves of garlic under the skin all over the chicken, with a few under the open cavity.   I don’t always do this.

The flat side of meat pounder opens garlic very easily.

Then I slather the chicken with about a cup of thick plain Greek yogurt.

This is the secret to moistness. High heat melts it into the chicken.                                                

I cook it in the high heat for about 35 minutes, which a restaurant chef told me was TOTALLY WRONG.  You are supposed to slow cook chicken then blast high heat at the end.   Not when the chicken is wearing yogurt sunscreen, it seems.   After 35 minutes (check earlier for brownness as your oven may be “fast” or slow),  you flip the bird with your handy tongs so the white meat does not dry out.    Cook it another ten  minutes at the high heat, then lower it to 325.   This will go another 20 minutes or so, and, in a pinch, you can turn the oven off right now and go get your child from gymnastics, walk the dog, or whatever.  I’ve done it this way, trust me.  There is a lot of residual heat which keeps cooking the chicken.  After 20 minutes (or when you get back), flip the chicken one more time and give it one more blast at 425 for about 5 or 10 minutes.

Yeah, it’s a tad too brown for professional purposes. Tasted great, though.

I serve it with brown or white rice, and, often, an iceberg lettuce salad with sliced oranges, dressed with oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.   Pepper on oranges is a surprisingly delicious flavor if you have never had it.

This is a very refreshing salad, a variation on a Sicilian orange, olive oil and pepper salad Grandpa Romano makes.