Brining the chicken upgrades this classic Sunday supper staple, so allow for at least 3 hours' brining time.
If you're working with a small, apartment-size oven, it's a good idea to test the fit of your rack and roasting pan before you get started.
For the Chef on Call assignment, chef Janis McLean also roasted blanched baby turnips and baby carrots in the same 350-degree oven as the chicken.
- For the brine
- 1/3 cup salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 gallon cold water
- 1 5- to 6-pound chicken, rinsed
- For the chicken
- 2 tablespoons unsalted or salted butter, at room temperature
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large lemon, rinsed
- 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley
- 2 sprigs thyme
For the brine: Combine the salt, sugar and water in a container large enough to hold those ingredients and the chicken; stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the chicken and make sure it is submerged; cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 9 hours.
Position an oven rack in the middle or lower-middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Place a V-rack inside a large roasting pan; grease it lightly with nonstick cooking oil spray. Discard the brine; rinse the chicken thoroughly and use paper towels to pat it dry thoroughly.
With the drumsticks pointing at you, slip your fingers under the breast skin and wiggle them to open some space between the meat and the skin, being careful not to poke holes in the skin. Do this on both sides of the breast. Spread the softened butter between the skin and the breast meat. Season the chicken inside and out with pepper. Place the lemon, parsley and thyme in the chicken cavity. Cross the ends of the drumsticks and use a piece of kitchen twine to tie them together, wrapping the twine around the stubby tailpiece (known as "the pope's nose") below them as well.
Place the chicken, breast side down, on the V-rack in the roasting pan; tuck in the wing tips. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Roast for 20 minutes, then use 2 large forks to invert the chicken so it is breast side up. Return to the oven and roast for 1 hour or until the internal temperature of the thigh registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. If the skin is not crisp by the time the chicken is almost done, increase the temperature to 400 degrees for the final 10 to 20 minutes. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving. Extract and discard the lemon and herbs before cutting the chicken into serving pieces.
From Janis McLean, executive chef of the Morrison-Clark Inn.
Tested by Toni L. Sandys.
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