While driving to work this week, I was compiling a list of ingredients in my head I needed to buy to make this Syrian roast chicken and potatoes dish when suddenly I found myself behind an SUV with a single, ominous bumper sticker: "Eat Rice. Not Potatoes. Today!" So random, so weird, but I took it as a sign from God and decided to just make the chicken. And make rice, maybe.
Most recipes for this dish involve just roasting parts (usually legs or thighs) of the bird, but I like the presentation of a whole chicken. Plus, I found a large one on sale for $3 at Randall's.
My general advice with roasting a chicken is 1) Make sure that birdie is patted as dry as possible to ensure a crispy crust and 2) Be aggressive and thorough in your application of oil and spices and 3) A meat thermometer is very, very helpful and may prevent you from making you and your guests sick.
1 medium-to-large chicken
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 cup chopped garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons (or more) ground cumin
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line roasting pan large enough for chicken with foil; spritz well with vegetable oil spray.
2. Using paper towels, pat chicken completely dry. Trim any excess nubbies of fat if you like from butt. The chicken's butt, not yours.
3. Dust chicken generously with salt.
4. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice.
5. Massage (yes, get those hands dirty) entire chicken with oil mixture, making sure to coat all surfaces.
6. Sprinkle ground cumin over chicken, then a wee bit more salt, and as much pepper as desired.
7. Roast in oven for at least 1 hour if not 1 hour and 25 minutes. To test progress of chicken, insert meat thermometer in thickest part of the thigh. When it clocks in at 165 degrees Fahrenheit, you should be good to go.
A roast chicken is useful in so many ways in addition to providing fodder for multiple meals. I like to keep the bones for stock and any rendered fat for chopped liver.