As a Taiwanese-American, I was raised with this mindset. My mother's primary cooking vessels were her wok and a large stock pot. Our oven was used as a storage cabinet for kitchen odds and ends, and rarely opened. Cat, on the other hand, grew up with a Scottish-Canadian mother and an Irish-American father. The Sunday roast was very much a part of her upbringing. Cat's mother is amazingly skilled at preparing roasts. To this day, my family still raves about the roast pork loin and the baked turkey breast they sampled at a New Years party Cat's parents held a few years back.
As the designated cook and food addict in our household, I've tried to take Cat's food upbringing into account when preparing our meals. The first time I made a Sunday roast for her, Cat's delighted smile practically lit up the room. I resolved to add a Sunday roast to our dining rotation and, since then, I've made a Sunday roast almost every weekend.
Roasts are a great way to eat. They're relatively simple to season and prepare and, while they may take some time to bake in the oven, the amount of effort it takes to cook them is significantly less than most of the other dishes I cook. In addition, the preparation time doesn't vary based on the size of the roast. So, with a moderate amount of planning, a roast can be stretched throughout an entire the week. Given the busy lives that Cat and I lead, this has really helped us eat better, particularly when we're tired after work and can't be bothered to do much cooking.
My recipe for Garlic Lemon Parsley Roast Chicken is simple to make, despite the exceedingly long name, and results in a moist, flavorful bird. The ingredients used in the seasoning paste can be varied based on personal preference, and any number of side dishes can be used to create variety in your Sunday dinners. Best of all, the leftovers are extremely versatile. The bones can be roasted a second time and used to make chicken stock for Chicken Matzo Ball Soup, a recipe I'll share soon. In addition to sandwiches, the remaining meat can be used for a number of additional dishes, such as Chicken Pot Pie, BBQ Chicken Pizza, Waldorf Chicken Salad, Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza, and so on.
Recipe for Garlic Lemon Parsley Roast Chicken
1 roasting pan (rack optional)
1 cutting board
1 food processor
1 probe or meat thermometer
Aluminum or tin foil
1 roasting chicken (8-10 lbs)
1-2 medium yellow onions
1 head of garlic
1 bunch of parsley
2-3 medium lemons
4 tbsp of unsalted butter
3 tbsp kosher salt
6 tbsp cracked black pepper
1 tbsp of vegetable oil (preferably Canola)
Prep work (Seasoning Paste):
Mix 2 tbsp of kosher salt with 6 tbsp of freshly cracked black pepper and set aside.
Juice the lemons, picking out any seeds. Reserve both the lemon juice and the squeezed halves.
Wash the parsley. Roughly chop the leaves. Reserve the chopped leaves and the stems separately.
Peel and clean the garlic. Reserve with the lemon juice.
Place the remaining 1 tbsp of kosher salt and the butter, garlic, lemon juice, and chopped parsley into the food processor. Puree until you have a paste with a smooth consistency.
Don't worry if your mixture is a little runny. All of it will be put to good use.
Prep work (Garlic Lemon Parsley Roast Chicken):
Peel and clean each onion, then slice in half. Reserve with the squeezed lemon halves and the parsley stems.
Remove the bag containing the neck and giblets from the chicken. Rinse the chicken, neck, and giblets. Pat dry before placing in the roasting pan. Coat both the chicken's skin and its cavity with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Rub the kosher salt and cracked black pepper mixture into both the chicken's skin and its cavity.
Starting from the neck portion of the chicken, use your fingers to carefully separate the skin of the chicken from each of its breasts. You don't want to remove the skin. Instead, make a one inch gap between the skin and breast, insert your fingers as deep as they'll go, and carefully wiggle them back and forth until you've made a pouch over the breast. Do this for each breast, then fill each pouch with half of the seasoning paste and carefully work the paste until each chicken breast is coated. The skin of the chicken will hold the seasoning against the breast, where it will infuse the meat. The skin will also prevent the seasoning from burning. The chicken's natural fat and butter will baste the breast and keep it moist while baking.
Pour any extra fluid into the cavity. It's ok if some of the fluid ends up in the roasting pan. It will flavor the chicken just the same.
Stuff the onion halves, squeezed lemon halves, and the parsley stalks into the chicken's cavity. Bind the drumsticks together with natural, untreated cotton or linen string.
Place one rack one-third of the way up from the bottom of your oven. Remove all of the other racks. Set your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I prefer to do this after I've dressed the chicken. Letting the chicken sit while the oven heats will allow the seasonings to sink into the meat. If you're worried about bacteria, you can place the chicken in your refrigerator during this time. However, I recommend the chicken be at room temperature when you introduce it to the oven. Use your own best judgment.
Once the oven has reached 400 degrees Fahrenheit, insert your thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken's thigh, then place inside the oven.
Once the temperature of the chicken thigh reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the chicken from the oven. Remove the thermometer. Turn the chicken over. Insert the thermometer into the thigh from the back of the chicken and return it to the oven.
Once the thermometer reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the chicken from the oven. Since I normally use the onions inside the chicken to help flavor a stock I make from its carcass, I pull some or all of the softened onions out of the chicken at this point and add them to the roasting pan so that the onions can get some caramelization. Remove the thermometer
Turn the chicken right side up. Loosely cover the breasts with a guard made from tin foil. This will help keep the breasts getting too cooked. Reinsert the thermometer through the chicken drumstick and into the thigh. Place the chicken back into the oven.
Once the thermometer reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the chicken from the oven. Loosely cover with tin foil and let rest for 15-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken stops climbing.
Remove the thermometer, the strings, and the aromatic stuffing from the chicken. Keep the onions, neck, and giblets for use in making stock. Discard the rest. Your chicken is now ready for carving and plating.
I like to enjoy this roast with stuffing. I usually cheat and use an instant, box variety like Stovetop. For my vegetables, I make a simple succotash from frozen soybeans and sweet corn sautéed in a little of the pan drippings from the roast and seasoned with a dash of salt.
I hope you try this recipe for your next Sunday roast and enjoy my Garlic Lemon Parsley Roast Chicken. It's one of Cat's favorites.