Roasting a half chicken--tips?
I'm roasting a chicken for the first time, and I'm wondering what I should do since there's no cavity to stuff (it's a half chicken). I was going to just rub it with salt, spices, and olive oil, put it in a baking pan, and cook it at about 400 degrees till the meat thermometer says it's done. Is this a good plan?
Also, I definitely wanted to save the bones for making stock or soup later. Is a half chicken enough to make anything, or should i get a stewing hen to make soup?
Well you can get more creative if you wish. wedge a potato, a few carrot and celery chunks, garlic or onions, mound in center of your pan and rest the half cavity of the chicken on that before roasting. Do all the oil, salt pepper and spices too. I'd even give a good squeeze of lemon juice over the veggies.
I woudl start the temp high for a few mintues then lower it down, you want moist chicken, right?
As for the bones, I woudl save them only if I had freezer space, which I usually don't. I make stock from scratch and do buy the chicken special for. YOur milage may vary.
That plan will definitely work. There are a million variations, but you have the basic roast chicken recipe. A couple of tips:
Brining is a nice way to get some extra juiciness and flavor. I use a brown sugar, fresh thyme, and salt brine for about 2 hours.
A dry rub marinade is good too. Coat the chicken in your salt & spices (a chili powder and pepper blend is one of my faves). Rub the dry into the chicken all over and cover in the fridge for at least an hour before cooking.
Try placing the chicken on a bed of root vegetables and potatoes. A complete meal in one roating pan.
A Note on Sutffing: Dense, bread stuffings are generally not recommended. You'll run into some serious bacteria risks because the internal temp of the stuffing won't come up to temp by the time the meat is cooked. This can be very dangerous. If you want to stuff your bird to get some flavor, loosely toss in some onion, fresh herbs, a couple of garlic cloves, maybe a few lemon wedges. Nothing too tightly packed.
Since you're asking ... :-)
As it's your first time, I would suggest doing a whole chicken. Marcella Hazan's lemon chicken is as easy as it gets. Simply put two small lemons in the cavity and salt and pepper on the outside in a hot oven, I'm sure you could google up the recipe or maybe someone else here could point you to it. The leftovers are fantastic as well if you're only cooking for one or two.
Since you seem to already have the half chicken though, your suggestion sounds good, I grill chickens split in half on the grill over high heat. As long as they're seasoned and pulled at the right time, it always works out great. Don't see why you couldn't do the same in a hot oven at 400-450.
As for the stock, I myself wouldn't use the cooked bones though. You can usually buy chicken bones for cheap at any butcher or do like you said, get a hen.
If you haven't made stock before, I would recommend investing in at least one or two basic cooking books. Jacques Pepin is one of the masters at basics in the kitchen so he'd be a good author to look into but there are countless others: Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, Marcella, Julia Child, etc. I would avoid the Food Network people, like Bobby Flay, Emeril, Alton Brown, and certainly would stay away from Paula Dean or Rachel (*gag*) Ray. That's just me, though, I'm sure others would disagree.
You can definitely use those bones to make stock. Roasted bones add a richness to the flavor. You won't get much stock from a half chicken, but two cups of homemade chicken stock will make a nice soup base tomorrow. Just put all the bones in a saucepan, cover with water and simmer for a few hours. Toss in some trimmings from aromatic veggies (onion, shallots, garlic --- not too much though), and a bay leaf.
Start tasting it after a couple of hours. When you think the flavor is good, strain the stock into a container and let it cool. Refridgerate it and viola, yummy stock.
If you have fresh herbs like sage, thyme, rosemary,etc.how abut slipping a bit under the skin? Also, I LOVE roasted garlic, so I always add a few whole cloves (in their skins) into the pan.
I would also go a TINY bit shy on the end temp- like about 5' under- and allow the carryover cooking during resting (at least 10 minutes out of the cooking pan) to take the chicken to the correct done temp.
And yes- if you have freezer room, save those bones by all means! Good luck!