The Sunday Roast, a quintessential British meal, is really a thing of beauty. For me, every mouthful reminds me of my childhood home. I have memories of impatiently pottering around the kitchen as scents of roast meat, potatoes, and vegetables wafted through the entire house. Our busy lives of running between school, sports, dance, and music lessons were briefly forgotten on Sunday afternoons. It was a time for our family to get together and share wonderful food.
Everyone can benefit from a relaxing afternoon spent cooking with friends and family every now and then!
If I could eat just one chicken recipe for the rest of my life it would be roast chicken. No questions asked. It’s simple, rustic, and rarely disappoints.
There was a time when I was fixated on trying to perfect the cooking process. We ended up eating roast chicken almost every Sunday for a few months…no joke. No complaints on my end, but I feel like it was starting to get out of hand. I’ve tried a combination of temperatures, herbs and spices, brining, basting, stuffing, breast down, breast up…just to name a few. But after what must be 20+ chickens, I’ve finallyyy found a method that gives unbeatable results each time. Friends, I give you maple-brined roast chicken.
Brining is a technique where you soak meat in a salt solution for a number of hours. It’s a much more effective way of seasoning since the salt penetrates into the meat and not just the surface. But most importantly, it will help decrease the amount of moisture that’s normally lost through roasting. Who doesn’t love juicy, tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken? Nobody, that’s who.
There are a few cooking methods out there, but after cooking chicken after chicken after chicken, I can confidently say that roasting it at a lower temperature is the way to go. Preheat your oven to 500°F, put the chicken in breast side DOWN and immediately turn the temperature down to 325°F. After 30 min flip it and let it roast for another 45-50 minutes. Airflow is also a key factor for even cooking, so prop that chicken on a roasting rack or if you’re in a pinch, some potatoes and veggies will do the trick.
Now a few words about basting. Unless you’re basting it with something with a high fat content, you’re just helping it dry out. And constantly opening the oven is a big no-no. Just drizzle olive oil on the skin, put it in oven and leave it. No touching!
To check that your yard-strutter is done, place a thermometer in the thigh (careful not to touch bone) and if it reads 165°F then you’re good to go. If you don’t have a thermometer, slice between the thigh and the breast and if the juices run clear then you’re in the clear. At this point I like to give it a quick blast of heat by broiling it for a few minutes. Crispy and crackly skin? Check.
By this point mouthwatering aromas have been filling the house for just over an hour, so what’s 10-15 minutes more? Let that bird rest for 10-15 minutes before you carve it.
Ok, now you can eat it!
Serve with a quick and easy orzo salad with asparagus, peas and radishes. Or if you’re in the mood for some roasted veggies, try my roasted-cauliflower.
- 1 3-4lb chicken
- ½ cup salt
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp each dried rosemary, thyme, basil, garlic powder, whole peppercorns
- 1 cup uncooked orzo
- 15-20 asparagus spears
- ¾ cup green peas
- 2-3 radishes
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add salt and boiling water to a small saucepan. You only need enough water to fully dissolve the salt. Add the maple syrup and stir to combine. Let the solution cool down completely (you can add ice cubes to speed up the process). In a Dutch oven or large pot, add the salt solution, dried herbs, chicken, and fill with water to fully submerge the chicken. Let brine for approximately 4 hours.
- Take the chicken out of the brine and give it a quick rinse. Pat dry with paper towel and leave it uncovered for 1 hour in order for it to come to room temperature and to dry out the skin.
- Preheat oven to 500°F. Put the chicken on a roasting rack and add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the pan. Once the oven is preheated, place the chicken in breast-side down, and immediately turn it down to 325°F. Roast like this for 30 minutes, then, flip it and roast breast-side for another 45-50 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (with thermometer placed in the thigh).
- Let rest for 10-15 minutes before carving it.
- Steam asparagus and peas until tender. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Cook orzo according to the instructions on the package. Add asparagus, peas, and radishes.
- Mix olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Add to the salad and gently toss.