I’d like to say I’m wise for my age but, really, the only thing “old” about me (other than my early bedtime) is my memory. It’s awful. Truly, truly awful. And if it weren’t bad enough to begin with, pregnancy makes it even worse. I swear, pregnancy brain is a real thing, and it’s terrible. Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is that we’ve had a small chicken in our freezer for ages. You’d think, with it being a whole chicken and all, I’d notice it from time to time and actually remember to stick it on the menu one of these days, but nope. Or, sometimes I WOULD plan to make it, and then forget to take it out to thaw.
But, this little bird finally got made recently. I needed rosemary for a meal, and since I can never make it through an entire rosemary bunch, I sought out some recipes. Annie recommended this one to me. And then I was like, “THERE IS ALREADY A CHICKEN IN MY FREEZER!”
Roasted chicken is one of my favorite things. I grew up eating it easily once a week and I truly wouldn’t have an issue doing the same now. This particular roast chicken is very reminiscent of the kind with 40 cloves of garlic, but, like I mentioned, it’s made with rosemary—which I really adore with chicken. This was actually the first time I’ve ever brined a chicken and it was really great. I’ll admit to already noticing a huge difference in both the tenderness and taste of our chicken since switching to a local rancher, but I also know that the brining definitely seemed to help with keeping this even more moist than usual. Of course, to make sure this happens, you have to be sure you don’t overcook your chicken.
In addition to the standard size, our rancher also provides smaller chickens, of about 2.5 lbs. which is what I used, so while I adjusted my cooking time a bit, I’m leaving the original recipe below. Roast chickens always go over well with this family, and this one was certainly no different. The chicken was packed with flavor and the roasted garlic sauce was a great complement to both the chicken and mashed potatoes. Between the 3 of us, we polished off our small chicken (with Zachary eating thirds, by the way).
Garlic-Rosemary Roast Chicken
½ cup table salt
10 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cups hot water
1.5 qts. cold water
1 whole chicken (3.5-4 lbs.), giblets discarded
2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
10 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1.75 cups chicken broth, divided
½ cup water
¼ cup dry white wine
1 spring fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste
To prepare the brine: Combine the salt, garlic and rosemary in a resealable plastic bag. Seal the bag, pressing out the excess air. With a meat mallet or a rolling pin, pound the garlic cloves until smashed; transfer the mixture to a large bowl or stockpot. Stir in the hot water; let stand 10 minutes to release the flavors. Mix in the cold water and stir to dissolve the salt. Immerse the chicken in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Preheat the oven to 450˚F and place an oven rack in the lower-middle position. Place a rack inside a roasting pan, and spray lightly with cooking spray.
To make the garlic rosemary paste: Combine the rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, and 1 Tbsp. of the oil in a small bowl. Mix well. Rub about 1½ tsp. of the paste inside the cavity of the chicken. Gently loosen the skin over the breast and thigh on each side of the chicken. Divide the remaining paste between the two sides of the chicken, slipping it underneath the skin and rubbing some over the surface of the skin. Tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine if desired. Brush the surface of the chicken with 2 tsp. of the olive oil. Season with freshly ground pepper. Place the chicken breast-side down in the roasting pan and bake for 15 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, toss the garlic cloves with the 1/2 tsp. oil for the sauce. After the chicken has roasted for 15 minutes, toss the garlic cloves into the roasting pan and bake 15 minutes longer.
Remove the pan from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 375˚ F. Rotate the chicken so it is breast-side up. Brush the remaining 1 tsp. of oil over the breast. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth and water to the roasting pan. Return the pan to the oven and continue roasting until the chicken is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 160˚ F. Transfer the chicken to a large serving platter and cover loosely with foil.
Transfer the roasted garlic cloves to a cutting board. Pour the liquid from the roasting pan into a liquid measuring cup; let sit a few minutes, then skim the fat off the surface. You should have about 2/3 cup of liquid (add water if needed). Peel the garlic and mash the cloves into a paste with a fork. Combine the roasting liquid in a small saucepan with the mashed garlic, the remaining ¾ cup broth, wine and rosemary. Heat over medium-high heat until simmering. Reduce heat and continue to simmer about 8 minutes, until partly reduced. Discard the rosemary sprig and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce.