Let’s be honest. February is THE WORST. It’s grey. It’s cloudy. If you’re living on the Eastern Seaboard right now, you’ve got snow up to your eaves – and your last nerve. The deep chill has set in, the kind of chill that burrows into your very bones, finding out wherever you’re vulnerable and or weak and aching, and digging in its sharp icicle fingers. Facebook is full of picture of friends and family travelling south, lounging on the beach in bikinis, drinking margaritas, and maybe next year you’ll get to go, but not this year because the car broke down in the cold again, and you need to redo the insulation in your house because damn it, you can FEEL the gusts coming in from outside, and the kids have gotten the flu for the third time this year…
So we’re in agreement, then, February is THE. WORST.
This is why I decided that February needs a holiday. Because when the snow’s got you down, and that darn groundhog saw his shadow for the fifth year in a row and everything is bleak and cold and you threw out your back from snow shovelling but there’s still so much more to do, you need a frickin’ party with family, friends, and a GIANT turkey. A holiday with an enormous turkey dinner, and lots of friends and family to warm up your house. And your soul. Sure there’s Valentine’s Day, and if you live in the south, Mardi Gras (which I firmly believe should be adapted to fit places that aren’t so warm in the winter!) but it’s hard to follow parades when the sidewalk is neck deep in snow.
So my family invented a holiday. This past Saturday was the fourth annual February Turkey Day at my parent’s house. Nothing livens up winter like friends and family, with delicious food, warm drinks, and lots of laughter. Good for you, good for your soul, and it’ll help brighten up those winter nights. It’s easier to face the long dark with some good food in your stomach. Laugh in Old Man Winter’s Face!
Even thousands of miles away, it was nice to connect with my family while they were eating their feast, and we had our own! What better way to celebrate February Turkey Day (or ‘TurFebkuary’) than when your adorable 2 year old nephew SHOUTS his version of your name because he’s so excited to see you?
While a turkey doesn’t fit in my tiny turbo oven, a chicken sure does! It’s SO easy, and so delicious, all moist and fragrant, with crispy, crackling skin. The leftovers last for days (sandwiches, Lemon Pepper Lettuce Wraps, Nightshade Free Chicken Fajitas, and the bones are boiled for chicken stock. It’s a meal I feel I can truly use every last part of.
First thing is to make sure your chicken is thawed all the way through. Generally I find 48 hours in the fridge is enough. I have a confession to make – when it comes to cooking chicken I am a COMPLETE germaphobe, running to the sink every five seconds to wash my hands, and keeping soap and a sponge handy to wipe down any surfaces that might even get a speck of chicken…juice.. on it. I had food poisoning once as a kid, and have vowed NEVER AGAIN.
Make sure that the gizzards etc. are out of the chicken. Some people like to cook them and eat them, or keep them for their doggies. I usually just end up tossing them or keeping them for broth.
I don’t wash the chicken. In keeping with my germaphobe status, I firmly believe that washing raw meat will only further spread bacteria around my kitchen, and not actually kill all of it. The high temperatures in my oven, however, will kill everything. If you are curious about this, you can find more information about the FDA’s official stance here.
Make sure that you do dry off the skin of the chicken with a paper towel, though! Even if you’re not washing it. Having all the moisture gone will help us get that super crispy yummy skin. (If you’re into that – I certainly am!)
Preheat your oven to 425° and plop your bird in your roasting pan, breast side up. (This part is important. When starting out, I may or may not have accidentally had it upside down…. more than once… please don’t take away my food blogger card!)
Now to make the rub. Oh man, this is the best part. This is what’s really going to make your chicken stand out. Mix your garlic powder, oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. I like to use sea salt, the larger grains really add an amazing flavour that you just don’t get with the smaller salt flakes. Mix all that together with your butter. Some people use olive oil, but I like the tactile feel of butter or margarine.
Rub that all over the chicken, and then under the skin. If you are watching your calories but still want the flavour, this is key. And if you are eating the skin, well, it’s just another level of delicious, percolating into the meat. YUM.
Next, you’re going to cut your onion and lemon into 8 pieces. Take your garlic cloves, and smush them with your knife to help release some juices.
For each of these, toss half of them in the bird, and half in the pan. When I did a student exchange trip to England (a long time ago now … wow), our International Dorm had a pot luck and one of the Spanish guys brought THE most delicious, mouthwatering, moist chicken I had ever tasted. I asked him the secret. He said it was his grandmother’s recipe – all he did was toss in half a lemon, half an onion and some garlic into the chicken. That was it. So that is what I have embraced!
Now to cook. Put your pan in the oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.
When the 15 minutes are up, turn down the heat to 375°, where it will remain for the rest of your cooking time. The surge of heat at the beginning will really help crisp up your skin!
I generally follow this guide for cooking time at Help With Cooking. The rule of thumb is 20 minutes per pound of chicken + an extra 15 minutes for posterity. Since this baby is a whopper at 7.5 lbs (I promise I wasn’t going for a turkey), I’m cooking it for 2hrs and 45mins total.
Oh man, look at it so amazing! You may recall last week when I was talking about my Turbo Oven from Heck. It thought the roast chicken was so delicious that it also couldn’t wait to split it open and eat it! Silly oven.
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 medium-sized lemon OR 3 tbsp ReaLemon or other lemon juice
- 1 large onion
- 1 garlic bulb
- 2 tbsp butter/margarine OR 1tbsp oil for dairy-free option
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- ½ tbsp each thyme and rosemary
- 1 tbsp oregano
- ½ tsp each pepper and sea salt
Preheat oven to 425°F
Ensure chicken is thawed all the way through and remove gizzards. Place chicken in roasting pan breast side up. Set aside gizzards for broth, toss them, or roast them in the pan for a doggie treat.
Mix butter (or oil) with garlic powder, thyme, rosemary, oregano, pepper and sea salt.
Liberally rub mixture all over and under the skin of the chicken.
Cut lemon and onion into eighths, and flatten garlic cloves to release juices. Place half of the pieces in the chicken (or as many as you can up to a half), and the other pieces in the roasting pan around the chicken.
Place roasting pan in oven, and cook at 425° for 15 minutes (to crisp up the skin!)
Continue cooking at 375° for as long as is recommended. 20 minutes per pound + 15 minutes extra. There is a handy guide here: http://www.helpwithcooking.com/cooking-poultry/roast-chicken.html. For example, this chicken was 7.5lbs, so it took 2hrs and 45mins.
Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before carving.
Enjoy!!! Serve with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and other delicious veggies
Enjoy!!! Serve with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and other delicious veggies.