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Food Network Favorites: The Ultimate Roast Chicken

Is it an adequate version of roast chicken? Sure. Is it the "Ultimate"? Eh, not so much. Like most roast chicken recipes, this one tries to be unique by stuffing the chicken with various stuff (in this case, herbs, onions, garlic, and an orange). But roast chicken always ends up tasting like...roast chicken. There's not a whole lot you can do to it to make it interesting.

This Tyler Florence recipe adds a pan gravy that's made from the chicken drippings, broth, and dry sherry. It's a nice, innocuous little sauce that helps to keep the chicken moist. There's not really much else to say about the recipe; if you don't already have a roast chicken recipe that you like, give this one a try. But if you have an old favorite that always works for you, I don't see any reason to switch to this one. It's fine, nothing more.

You'll want to watch the onions in the roasting pan carefully. Florence doesn't warn the cook at home that the onions could burn if the chicken isn't giving off enough juices. I recommend that you pour about 1/2 cup of chicken broth into the bottom of the pan if the onions look like they are getting too dark. Your cooking time may also be longer than the 50 minutes that's given in the original recipe. I've made the estimated cooking time more flexible.

Also not indicated in the recipe: what to do with the bacon that's draped over the chicken for the first 25 minutes of cooking. I assume that Florence intends for the bacon to be discarded, since he doesn't indicate anything otherwise. And I can't think of a whole lot else to do with it, since it comes off the chicken looking pretty flabby and unappetizing. Still, this should have been indicated in the recipe.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 to 60 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

5 1/2 pound free-range chicken
1/2 bunch each fresh oregano, thyme, and parsley
1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 orange, halved
1/2 head garlic
1 small white onion, peeled and halved, plus 1 onion
6 strips smoked bacon
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry sherry

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Divide the herbs, keeping half of them whole. Finely chop the other half. In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the chopped herbs until combined. (The herbed butter can also be made in a food processor or mini-chopper. Combine the butter and herbs and process until smooth.) Rub the herbed butter under the skin and all over the outside of the chicken. Season the bird all over with salt and pepper.

Stuff the cavity with the orange, garlic, onion halves, and the remaining herbs (you may need to cut the orange into smaller wedges to get it to fit). Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Place the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan. Put the whole onion into the pan to help color and flavor the sauce. Lay the strips of bacon across the breast of the chicken and roast for 25 minutes.

Remove the bacon and discard. Check to make sure that the onion in the roasting pan is not getting burned; if it looks too dark, add about 1/2 cup chicken broth to the pan. Baste the chicken with the drippings and cook for another 25 to 35 minutes to brown the skin. Chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees (the legs should wiggle freely). Remove the chicken to a platter and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, remove the softened onion from the roasting pan and discard. Tilt the pan so the drippings collect in one corner, and skim off as much fat as possible. Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over medium heat and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir the flour into the drippings to make a paste. Pour in the 1 1/2 cups chicken broth in stages; continue to stir to prevent lumps. Stir in the sherry and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, carve the chicken tableside and squeeze the oranges from the cavity over the meat.



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