Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs
1 fresh chicken, 3 1/2 lbs.
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 fresh sage leaves (or 4 sprigs fresh tarragon or 1/2 t. dried herbes de Provence
1 large lemon, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 T. butter, room temperature
2/3 C. mixed roughly chopped carrots and onions
1 to 2 T. minced shallots
1/3 C. dry white French vermouth or dry white wine
2/3 C. or more chicken stock
1 to 2 T. butter (optional)
Set oven rack to lower midlevel position and preheat oven to 425° F.
Rinse chicken thoroughly, inside and out, under hot water, then dry it with paper towels. Remove any lumps of fat from inside the cavity near the tail opening.
Salt and pepper cavity and stuff with sage leaves and 3 or 4 thick slices of lemon; give the slices a squeeze as you put them in. Massage butter over entire chicken skin, including undersides, then salt generously.
Tie ends of drumsticks together with twine. Arrange chicken breast-up on rack in roasting pan 2 inches deep and tuck the flap of neck skin underneath. Squeeze juice of remaining lemon pieces over top.
Set roasting pan in oven. After 15 minutes, lower heat to 350° F. When chicken is beginning to brown rapidly, baste with accumulated pan juices. Roast an hour, adding onions and carrots after 30 minutes and basting several times. Very carefully test for doneness, checking for easy movement in leg joint and clear color in the juices. Return it to the oven if there is any sign of pink. (A small chicken will roast in about 1 1/2 hours or more.) When done, remove chicken from rack and set it on a board to rest 15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to retreat back into the flesh.
While chicken is resting, make a deglazing sauce in roasting pan.
Have ready a strainer set over a small saucepan. Tilt roasting pan so remaining fat and juices accumulate in one corner. Carefully spoon off most of fat and reserve for vinaigrette or other uses.
Place roasting pan on stove burner over medium heat; add shallots and stir for a moment until sizzling. Pour in wine or vermouth and the stock and heat rapidly to a simmer, scraping up all the glazed bits in the pan. Cook briefly until glaze is melted and liquid is slightly syrupy. Strain into saucepan, pressing strained bits to release their juice. (If you like the bits, don’t strain.)
Taste sauce and adjust seasoning; you may add more wine or stock and boil it down a bit to thicken. Whisk in butter just before serving, if desired, for richer finish.
Deglazing also may be done in a saucepan; scrape defatted juices and as much of glazed bits as you can into saucepan, pour a small amount of boiling water into roasting pan and scrape to melt remaining glaze. Add to saucepan with shallots, wine, and stock; bring to a boil and cook until thickened. Strain and whisk in optional butter. Makes about 1 cup sauce.
Carve chicken and serve with deglazing sauce.
Makes 4 servings.