Re-making Traditions + the *PERFECT* Roast Chicken

Thanksgiving just behind us and Christmas on it's way means traditions are swirling around in my mind, both the warm fuzzy feelings associated with the familiar and the fond as well as the slightly negative aspects of tradition. Negative traditions? Can there really be such a thing? Aren't traditions something we continue doing because we love them and want to mark our lives by such cornerstones? In theory. However traditions can also be laden with guilt or leave us feeling un-creative. We might do the same thing year after year because we feel we must or can't think of any alternative. Breaking away from traditions can potentially cause hurt feelings of other family members who wish to continue. I'm by nature a traditional person but not necessarily a sentimental one, so I love the idea of annual traditions and rhythms that I can predict and look forward to, but I don't necessarily feel I must continue with what we've done in the past, especially if it doesn't feel special. When Brad and I got married and moved eight hours away from my family we were given the perfect scenario to re-think all of the traditions we've grown up with and decide which we'd keep for ourselves and which we'd re-think as a married couple. We both brought some traditions into our marriage and left many too. In recent years as our babies have grown up into children we've honed in on traditions, making some new ones each year as they can now remember for themselves what they loved from the years prior. For example, Brad and I both grew up with turkey with all the trimmings on Thanksgiving and Santa Claus at Christmas and our kids are being raised with neither.

At first we felt a bit rebellious and strange stepping out of the traditions we've grown up with, especially given our happy childhoods, but we realized that continuing with traditions simply because they've always been done without thought to our personal beliefs, tastes, interests didn't make any sense. This past Thanksgiving when I said on Instagram that we weren't doing a turkey and indeed that we didn't enjoy turkey dinner, I received a barrage of comments insisting that we go ahead with the meal, including many comments listing the benefits of the leftovers (the soups! the sandwiches!) None of which were convincing as we don't like turkey. I wasn't offended by the comments at all, but I do find it interesting how the tradition of turkey at Thanksgiving is so ingrained that it's noteworthy when a family opts for an irregular meal during the October long weekend.

This Thanksgiving, and in fact typically once a week in the colder months, we enjoyed a whole roast chicken, which I have to say is a million times tastier than turkey. Cooking a whole bird was very intimidating to me as a new cook, but after years and years it's become one of my favourite comfort foods. I love the small size compared to turkey (very conducive to condo life!). A roast chicken is one of my favourite meals to bring to a new mom or a friend who's in need of a hand. It's just the perfect meal! Le Creuset generously sent me their new Oblong Casserole to try out this Fall and though countless dishes can be made and served in this dish, to me it's life calling is to be a vessel for roast chicken!

I've tried tons of recipes over the years but I've finally settled on what I think is *the best*. This recipe cooks low and slow for starters. 300 degrees for 2.5 hours! But the oven time is completely hands off (no basting as with turkey). Also you'll create the most amazing butter and herb spread and place it beneath the skin, directly on the chicken meat. You'll fill the cavity with a pierced lemon and herbs and cook your bird atop whatever root vegetables you fancy (raddishes, potatoes, carrots). I promise you, the result is incredible!
  1. Clean your bird with water, including inside the cavity, and dry it with a paper towel.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 and clean and chop vegetables
  3. Toss vegetables in olive oil or knobs of butter, lemon zest, and salt then place at the bottom of your roasting dish (I used the Le Creuset oblong casserole which is the perfect size!)
  4. Make your herb butter spread: in a blender or by hand, combine 1/4 c room temperature butter and a few glugs of olive oil with salt, pepper, lemon zest from one lemon, 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint and 1/4 cup chopped parsley or basil. 
5. Spread the herb butter mixture all over the bird, including underneath the skin of the breasts (see picture below) This will guarantee the strongest flavouring on the meat and not just on the skin. If you gently pull the skin at the entrance of the cavity, you'll see that it seperates easily and without tearing from the meat beneath. Push the herb butter mixture all the way to the back of the bird, covering the whole top (breasts) of the bird. 
6. Stuff the bird's cavity with a lemon that's been pierced a few times with a sharp knife, which will allow more juice to come out, and whatever herbs you have leftover from your herb butter mixture. 
7. Top with a final sprinkling of salt and pepper and put in the oven for 2.5 hours, or until meat thermometer reads cooked. 

I hope you try this recipe! The meat will be falling off the bone and so infused with flavour and your vegetables will be perfectly seasoned and ready to serve. 

One chicken typically serves 3-4 people, depending on how much meat you're serving. If we're eating with the kids we'll make two which leaves leftovers for curry chicken salad sandwiches. I save the drippings in the fridge to use instead of oil when cooking vegetables the week afterwards, and make bone broth with the carcass. Maybe I'll have tempted you to re-think turkey with this recipe, or maybe not, but I hope you enjoy it and also feel the freedom to create your own family rhythms! 

This post was written in collaboration with 
Le Creuset Canadaa brand I've admired  years. 
All opinions are 100% my own.
To book a collaboration, contact me!


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