When I think of a classic Sunday dinner, it has to be a perfectly roasted chicken. Tender, moist meat, seasoned beyond compare with a crispy, golden brown skin. That is what I am going to share with you today, a roast chicken with a European flair. French style, herb roasted chicken is just a delicious as it sounds but not nearly as difficult as you may think.
Cooking in the French style can sometimes sound a bit intimidating, but I can assure you that most basic French cuisine has simple roots of the peasant variety. Yes, there was Marie Antoinette, and her cake, but in reality, the poor folks outnumbered the aristocracy and it is their food that we should take our cue from. Simple, wholesome ingredients like a perfectly sourced chicken along with fresh aromatics like onions and Meyer lemons are the basic building blocks for a delicious bird. Top that off with some good quality olive oil and a generous sprinkling of homemade Herbes De Provence and you have a bird that would have been fit to feed Marie herself with nary a complaint to be heard.
Getting this underway is easy! Go get yourself the best chicken you can afford. I love to get mine from a local shop that sources locally grown birds, however sometimes my wallet screams at me and I just go for the grocery store variety when I can get them on sale. Sometimes I can get whole birds for .69 a pound and that is when I fill a portion of my freezer with them because you can't beat a whole chicken for around $3!
Today I have two chickens that are both between 5 and 6 pounds each. I love to roast off more than one bird at a time and if I had had the room in my oven, I would have roasted three of them as I intended, but for now one of them went into the freezer for another time. It takes just as much time and energy to roast off two or three chickens as it does to roast one. Make use of your time, energy, and electricity and get more for all your effort. You can do so much with leftover roasted meats that the payoff really is enormous.
I washed and dried each chicken and then place them on a wire rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet. This will help the air circulate all around the entire bird and allow any juices and fat to drain into the pan without having the bird boil in it's own juices. This is what roasting is all about! Then I sprinkled the cavities of the chicken with some of my homemade Herbes De Provence and stuffed them with some halved, peeled onions and lemons, which I squeezed over the top of the birds before stuffing them inside. This will help to perfume the meat and give it amazing flavor.
Next I drizzled about a tablespoon of olive oil over each chicken and gave it a quick massage to spread out the oil. Then I sprinkled a copious amount of the herb mixture over each one, completely covering them with a luxurious crust of herbaceous goodness. If you like, at this point, you can give the chickens a little spray of olive or vegetable oil. This will help the dried herbs not to burn so fast and give them a little more oomph! I use my Misto, oil sprayer for this, but any commercial cooking oil spray will work just fine.
Then I roasted the chickens for 45 minutes at 400 degrees and then for an additional 45 minutes at 350 degrees, making sure to keep them in the oven until their internal temperature, when taken with an instant read meat thermometer registered at least 160 degrees. Make sure you take the temperature in the breast as well as the thigh area. Also make sure that the juices are running clear with no signs of red or pink. Then you can be sure your bird is perfectly done.
You're not quite ready to cut into that bird just yet though! Go ahead and cover them with some foil and let them rest for at least 20 minutes to allow all those delicious juices to settle and redistribute into the meat before you are ready to sit down to a delicious meal of herb roasted chicken.
I served mine with some roasted potatoes and onions along with a big green salad and we were very happy campers! The best part is that there are plenty of leftovers to have fun with in the coming week. I plan on making several dishes to feed my family just from these two chickens. They include a chicken burrito lasagna, Chinese chicken soup, chicken pot pie, shredded chicken salad and maybe even a Greek inspired chicken pizza. There might even be some meat left over for egg rolls, you just never know. Chicken is not going to waste in this house and it shouldn't in yours either.
If you would like to see how I roasted my chicken, you can have a look, here: