Perhaps it's that first autumnal nip in the air, perhaps it's just the usual busy week, but I was again reminded that possibly my all time favorite, easiest comfort food dinner of all just may be roast chicken.
Talk about easy--at least the way I habitually make it--and talk about delicious. As with all things, the results are going to be very dependent on the quality of ingredients, so, for the sake of argument, let's just assume you're going to come up with the very best, freshest and hopefully non-battery raised bird you can find.
Now, having done that, it's all smooth sailing from here! I've tried every conceivable recipe for roast chicken through the years. I've trotted them all out and, to my amazement, have rarely been able to tell the difference. In fact, if you look closely at this picture, you'll see a bit of yellow where I bunged a whole lemon in its cavity to see what it would do. While I liked the little bit of a citrus note that I detected, mainly in the gravy, Jeff professed not to notice it. All of which takes me back to my theory of the proper way to roast a chicken...do virtually nothing to it!
Sea Salt Encrusted Roast Chicken
17 to 8 pound chicken
several black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons coarsely ground sea salt (I use Maldon Salt)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
Take your lovely bird, remove it's giblets from where they're probably lurking in its cavity and put them in a small saucepan of water with some pepper corns and a bay leaf. Cover and put it on to a slow simmer over very low heat to cook while the bird cooks.
Put the chicken in a roasting pan with a rack, breast side up and cover it with good, coarse sea-salt. Put it in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes per pound. Honestly, you don't have to do anything else to it. You may walk away. You don't have to baste it, look at it or fuss over it. I mean you can if you really want to but there's no need.
At the appointed time, remove the bird from the oven and put it on a platter to rest for about 15 minutes while you make the gravy.
Remove the rack and put the roasting pan on a low heat on the top of the stove, add a goodly amount of flour and stir until it's all absorbed by the fat and cooks for about 2 minutes. Start to add the giblet broth little by little stirring constantly until it gets to the right consistency. Add poultry seasoning and salt and pepper to taste and then add the chicken liver from the giblet pan and squash it against the bottom of the pan while stirring constantly.
Serve with mashed potatoes, sautéed sliced Brussel sprouts and cranberry chutney and you've got yourself such a feel-good feast that even you might forget how incredibly easy it was. And by the way, there's really no reason to let everyone in on it. It'll be our little secret.