There is something about the smell of chicken roasting in the oven that reminds me of my childhood home and being surrounded by those I love most. It instantly transports me back to a time when everything seemed a bit simpler and family was always first. A Normal Rockwell painting for sure.
But it's more than just nostalgia. I love roasting a chicken because it's practical, inexpensive to do organically (in comparison to buying pre-cut chicken), requires no cooking skills or time to prepare, and can feed four hungry mouths with plenty left overs for the next day. It's perfect for any mom or mom-to-be who has limited time to spend in the kitchen and is looking to have something they can pull from throughout the week. Besides, this recipe is so simple even a hubby or significant other can do it and succeed.
This easy recipe will have you asking yourself, "why don't I do this more often," again, and again and again.
1 5-6 lb broiler chicken (I recommend organic or purchasing from an incredible local farm like PolyFace Farms)
1 apple (I prefer Macintosh as they fall apart when baked and are perfect for mixing into a gravy)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh chopped thyme + 3 thyme sprigs
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh chopped sage & 4 stems of fresh sage**
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons arrow root or corn starch (+ 2 tablespoons cold water)
salt and pepper to taste
**Note: If you're breastfeeding and concerned about milk supply skip the sage, as sage is known to help reduce milk production.
Preheat your oven to 350.
Mix the olive oil, chopped thyme, chopped sage, honey and sea salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Core the apple and cut into quarters (or eights if the apple is large). Tie together the sage stems and thyme sprigs with cooking twine to make a bouquet. If you don't have twine use one of the more flexible thyme sprigs to tie together the herbs.
Remove your chicken from the package and pat it dry with a paper towel. Place the bird on a roasting pan, face up. Using your hands, pull up the skin at the top of the cavity and use your hands to create a space between the skin and the breast of the chicken. Spoon 1/4 of the mix under the skin, spreading evenly with your hands. Spoon the remaining mix on the top of the skin and use your hands to spread it evenly on the skin.
Place the cut apple and herb bouquet in the cavity of the chicken. If you have cooking twine, truss the chicken and place it in the oven. Your cook time will depend on the weight of the chicken - approximately 20 minutes per pound plus 15 minutes. For a 5-6 lb chicken that's about 1 1/2 hours. Open the oven about 20 minutes before it's estimated completion time to baste the bird. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of your chicken has reached 165 degree before removing it from the oven.
Remove the chicken from the oven and set on a cutting board. Remove the herb bouquet and discard. Remove the apple and place in the pot on the stove. Tent the bird with tin foil to keep warm.
Pour the drippings from the roasting pan into the pot along with the apples. Add in the low sodium chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
In a small bowl mix arrow root with two tablespoons cold water. Slowly stir the mixture into the simmering gravy. Once it starts to thicken, remove from heat and place the gravy in a blender to puree. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove tent from chicken, cut and serve with warm apple gravy.
Tips: The beauty of roasting a chicken is that nothing goes to waste. Once your meal is complete pull the remaining meat from the bone, cover and place in the fridge. The left over meat is great for fritattas, salads and sandwiches. Use the roasted chicken bones to make an incredibly flavorful chicken stock which you can store in your fridge or freezer using glass jars. It's so easy, and with a homemade stock in hand, the possibilities are endless!