There was a time this year when Gil and I thought we were moving to the States. Back to Cleveland we were headed, and I had begun to plan how to move and restart my life again in the US of A. My main concern was how to get my favorite kitchen ware home. (Obviously not my main concern. Or at least not that I’d admit publicly, like say, on a blog…) I know, they have kitchen ware in Cleveland, Ohio. They have a gorgeous Williams and Sonoma store, and even a Sur La Table. But I like MY kitchen ware. Every tool that is currently used in my kitchen was either a gift from my Mother or Mother in law for our wedding last year. The hardest one to let go of? My brilliant blue Dutch oven from Ikea. Not exactly Le Creuset, and the top doesn’t quite fit, but it’s mine and I love it. It also weighs a ton, and there was no way it was getting shipped overseas.
We found out only a month or two before we were set to fly that we wouldn’t be moving back to Cleveland. It was quite the shock, and it definitely took some getting used to the idea. We had to find jobs, a better apartment, and how on earth could I raise a baby in Israel without my Mom? But G-d is good, and provided us with everything we needed to soothe our minds and hearts within the matter of a few weeks. And hey, I got to keep my Dutch oven!
This recipe is one of the only ones I make in a Dutch oven. I’ve made a few stews, but other than that, it is reserved for this perfect roasted chicken. It comes out of the oven cooked to perfection every single time. I like to place the whole chicken atop a bed of onions, whole garlic cloves and diced potatoes, which get cooked in the juices of the bird. This is a traditional Shabbat recipe in our house, but it’s great for any family dinner, served with fresh bread for dipping in the gravy.
The Perfect Roasted Chicken
This recipe calls for a 5 qt cast iron dutch oven with a lid
1 whole 3 lb chicken
4 medium-sized potatoes
1 large onion
6-8 garlic cloves, reserve 2 or 3 for stuffing in the chicken
1 lemon or lime
About 2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs- I use a combination of fresh Rosemary, and dried Oregano and Basil. Thyme is also a delicious pairing here.
1 tablespoon + 1 tsp coarse sea salt or Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Start by washing the inside and outside of your chicken with plenty of cold water. Do this in an empty sink, and take care to wash your hands and the sink well after with soap- my Momma taught me to be extra careful with raw chicken, and it kind of stuck. You can leave the chicken to drain the sink for a few minutes while you prepare the vegetables.
Cube the potatoes, cut the onion in half, set aside one half and cut the other into large chunks. Remove the skins from the garlic. Cut the lemon or lime in half, and set aside with the remaining onion half and a few whole garlic cloves. Place into the bottom of your Dutch oven, and toss the vegetables with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tsp of sea salt, 1 tsp black pepper, and a bit of the chopped fresh rosemary.
Combine the rest of the herbs, salt, and olive oil in a small bowl. Take the chicken and dry it completely with a clean dish towel or paper towels. This will help the skin remain crispy after cooking. Place the chicken breast-side-down in the Dutch oven on top of the vegetables. Rub it well with half of the herb-oil mixture, then flip it over so it is breast-side-up and rub completely with the remainder of the herbs and oil. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the two lemon halves, the half onion, and the garlic cloves.
Put the cover on the Dutch oven and place into the middle of the oven. Cook for 1 hour.
After an hour, remove from the oven. Take off the cover, and use a basting brush to gently baste the chicken with some of the juices that have collected in the bottom- taking care not to wash off the herbs. Some people have suggested squeezing a lemon over the chicken at this point, or pouring on some red wine. I’ve never tried this, but I think you can’t go wrong.
Put the chicken back in the oven without the top on and cook uncovered for a remaining 20-30 minutes, until the skin is a golden brown color and looks crispy. When you poke the chicken near the thigh, the juices should run completely clear.
When you plate the chicken and vegetables, don’t forget to spoon on some of the gravy. I use the term “gravy” loosely here- but it is hands down the best part of the dish.