Is It Done YET?- Herb-Roasted Chicken

“Is it done yet?”  McKenna yells as she comes through the door, obviously famished from being at school for 8 hours.  Keep in mind it’s usually only about 4:30 p.m.  These days when possible we have dinner almost immediately after she walks in the door…….it just makes things easier for all involved.  Between school and cheer practice, and being 14 years old, McKenna expels a lot of energy and requires food on cue!

So, yesterday, my plan was for roast chicken, potatoes and a salad for dinner.  I actually thought that the chicken would be done shortly after McKenna got home so that she wouldn’t die an agonizing death brought on by starvation. lol  I’m being dramatic….well a little bit! 😉

I started preparing my whole, raw chicken and potatoes about 2:30 p.m.  My thoughts were that if I get everything in the oven by 3:15 p.m., we should be eating by 4:45-5 p.m.  Not too long after my little darling gets off the bus.  So, I preheat my oven to 400, and scrub and chop two large potatoes into about 1 inch chunks.  I  place the potatoes into a roasting pan and cover with about 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil.  I used a roast potato seasoning, but really anything works here, and rubbed the potatoes to coat with oil/seasoning mixture.  I make sure the potatoes are in a single layer in the roasting pan, you know, to make sure they cook evenly and to give my chicken an even place to perch.  Time check: 2:40 p.m.

I divert my attention to my chicken.  I pat the little guy dry with some paper towels and place on the cutting board.  (newest recommendation is not to rinse your chicken as it allows for additional cross-contamination)   Do NOT forget to remove giblet package, gross!   I mixed about a half a cup of freeze-dried herbs, choose your favorite, with 6 tbsps. softened butter.  Clock is ticking…..tick, tock, tick, tock.  I take the butter/herb mixture and place under the skin, over each breast (loosen the skin with your fingers making a pocket).  I used the rest of the butter mixture to coat the skin of chicken….reminder to myself, it doesn’t have to be perfect….just edible.  I place my chicken atop potatoes and place pan in the now, preheated oven.

Whew! 3:15 p.m.  Okay, typically a whole chicken should take an hour and 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the bird.  I had a small one.   That being said, I figured my chicken should be done around 4:45.  I’d give it a rest time of 15 minutes, and be able to have dinner by 5 p.m. at the latest.

Alright, I’ve got time to clean up my mess, and disinfect cutting board.  Take the dogs for a walk and start another load of laundry.  I carry on about my merry way.  I make a salad to go with our chicken and potatoes.  Nothing fancy, mixed greens and some sliced sweet peppers.  Drizzle of olive oil.  Salt and pepper.  Stir, salads done!

I wash a few dishes and then get out some plates for McKenna and I’s dinner.  She doesn’t know it, but I really do try to make things nice for her pretty often!  I set out our plates and sharpen my carving knife.  Oh, there she is! Dogs are barking and door is slamming, and she exclaims, “what’s for dinner?”  It’s 4:18 p.m.  I back away slowly (haha), and tell her the chicken should be done in about 30 minutes.  I think she made some unintelligible sound, might have been a shriek, and then carried on through the house.

McKenna comes back into the kitchen to show me her newest cheer move and we discuss homework, room cleaning, and the schedule for the rest of the week.  4:40 p.m.  She says once again, “is it done yet?”  I take a peak at the chicken,  It’s not browning to my liking, so I use the juice in the pan to baste the top and place back in the oven.  I tell her that it shouldn’t be long.   Groan…..  We continue our conversation about school, and friends, and her cheer clinic this weekend.  We go walk the dogs again.  I remember that I wanted her to water our big dog, Jill.  That’ll take a little time, I think to myself.

She comes back into the house a few minutes later.  “Is the chicken done yeeetttt?” she says, exasperated.  4:50 p.m.  I think to myself, boy this chicken is taking a long time…I hope it’s not too dry (always happens if you over cook).  I tell her we are going to give it just a few more minutes.  At, nearly 5 p.m., I take the chicken out and all the juice is clear in the pan.  I know it is done.  I wrap it with aluminum foil for the allotted rest period, so that the juice redistributes throughout the meat.

McKenna pokes her head back into the kitchen, “it the chicken done YET?”  I say that it will just be another 10 minutes or so and begin making our plates and drinks for dinner.  Finally, after much delay…I am able to carve the chicken and fill our plates.  We sit down to eat, and she says, “oh, that chicken has a really good flavor and the skin is crispy too.”  Crisis averted.  All is well with our world!

*Note: Really an average size (3-5 lbs) chicken should take 1 1/2 hours.  However, when cooking a whole bird whether it’s turkey, chicken, or goose….the times can vary.  Maybe my oven is on the fritz, maybe my clock was wrong.  Maybe I wasn’t holding my mouth right.  Trust your instincts and look for clear juice in the pan, and if you decide to cut into it.  When in doubt, use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken and make sure it reads 165 degrees.

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