Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Serrano, Lime and Cilantro Roast Chicken

Serrano, Lime and Cilantro Roast Chicken

Roasted chicken.  When chicken is roasting in the oven, the air is perfumed with not just the golden bird right there in the oven, but with memories of Sunday dinners around your mother's or grandmother's dining room tables long ago.  If you close your eyes and listen real close, maybe you can almost hear the voices of those whose words meant so much to you when you were growing up.  And you smile.  I think roasting chicken is like a hug.  Warm, comforting...and wonderful.  Maybe that's why it's one of our favorite Sunday meals around here.  

Last Sunday was a roast chicken kind of day and it got me thinking about last October when I went to visit one of my daughters and her family - the one in West Virginia.  Julie had never made roast chicken...it's one of her husband's favorite dishes. 

Actually, we didn't start out the day intending to roast a chicken.  Julie and I had spent the day touring Harper's Ferry together - just the 2 of us - and were going to pick up a smoked chicken for dinner at the stand by the river.  The hickory chicken wafting in the air  smelled wonderful!  It was $18 for a chicken!  Change of plans.

Instead, we hit the grocery store and picked up everything we needed to roast our own chicken when we got back to her place.   So we created our own memories of cooking together and laughing together and making her home smell like Sunday dinners of the moms and grandmoms and aunts before us.  The bonus is that Toney now gets roasted chicken just about whenever he wants!

At Julie's, we did a traditional chicken with fresh herbs, garlic and lemon zest.  It's good to start off with the basics.  Once you have those down, you can start to experiment, to jazz it up a little....and that's what I did on Sunday.  I've been working on a version with lime and jalapeno and haven't gotten it as flavorful as I'd like - well, not until Sunday, that is!  I finally nailed it.  Here's the recipe. 

  Serrano, Lime and Cilantro Roast Chicken 

  • 1 large roasting chicken, maybe 6 pounds or so
  • olive oil Pam or olive oil in your own mister

  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, minced
  • 3 huge garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 serrano peppers, very finely minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, very finely minced
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 T. Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350.  

Combine the herbs, garlic, peppers, lime and salt.  Set aside.

Remove the giblets, heart, liver...you know, all that gunk inside the bird...and rinse the chicken with cold water.  Pat dry with paper towels.

Put the dry chicken into a roasting pan fitted with a wire rack.

Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the meat of the entire breast (both sides) lifting the skin and creating a pocket.  Be careful not to tear the skin.  Take about a quarter of the herb mixture and spread it evenly between the skin and the meat of one side of the breast.  Repeat on the other side of the breast with another quarter of the herb mixture.  Carefully pat the outside of the chicken - breast, legs, wings - with the rest of the herb mixture.  
Before putting the chicken into the oven, spray it all over lightly with the olive oil.  Put it into the oven for approximately 2 hours or until the legs wiggle loosely and the skin is beautifully browned.  Look for an internal temp of about 180 degrees.

Remove from oven and let it sit for about 15 minutes before carving.  Be sure to breathe deep and enjoy that heavenly aroma!

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