My mom’s recipes are all pretty open to interpretation, as her style is pretty old-school. There’s always “a little of this, and a little of that,” and many suggestions for variations. Her roast chicken has always been my favorite, bar none, and when I wanted to make it, I obviously called her. Her recipe was simple:
- rinse the chicken in some salt water
- dry well, salt liberally
- stuff some herbs (and, maybe, a piece of onion and/or lemon) in the cavity
- slather the chicken in herbed olive oil (I used rosemary, thyme, and crushed garlic)
- stick a piece of bacon over the chicken’s spine and drumsticks (my favorite mom trick to keep it moist and add great flavor)
- roast the chicken on a pile of oiled potatoes and onions, breast up, for about an hour at around 350 degrees, basting with some oil or butter halfway through
I had a few problems, though. First of all, my oven sucks, and my chicken wasn’t browning after almost a whole hour. (I should note that our chicken was fairly small and, apparently, Buddhist. We bought it at Jeffrey’s Meats and, spurred by our new sense of food responsibility, we bought the Bobo Chicken.) Secondly, our very complicated meat thermometer continues to confound us, and we haven’t yet bought a simple one. Bobo Chickens don’t have the trusty poppers my mom relies on, so we had to trust our instincts, which stressed me out. Finally, I started preparing the meal at like 8:30pm. I was also surprised by how grossed out I was by the whole process of dealing with a whole chicken. It’s body sort of reminded me of my cat’s, and it was disconcerting. But I got over it, and used my hands to oil it up and shove stuff in the cavity, etc.
I texted mom in a mild panic at around 9:30 when the skin was crisping, but not browning, and she suggested slathering on a bit of butter and turning the heat up for a bit. This seemed to work, but by the time I sat down to eat, I was totally exhausted. And, despite over an hour in the oven, a few of the potatoes remained undercooked.
It wasn’t quite the tour de force I’d hoped for, and my cell phone couldn’t get an appetizing looking picture of the thing. But I did conquer my fear of roast chicken, and will try it again, making a few adjustments, with my sucky oven in mind.