Roasted chicken is a great go-to dinner week after week, provided you know a few basic tweaks to keep it interesting. This is a simple yet unique preparation for this otherwise basic dish, which uses several warm spices as well as garlic, ginger, and lime zest to give the chicken great flavor and an intoxicating fragrance.
The spice paste takes just a few minutes to whip up, and is then rubbed under the skin of the chicken before roasting. If you’ve never manhandled a chicken before, don’t be shy. With just the littlest bit of prodding, the skin surrounding the cavity of the chicken can easily be stretched away from the meat, creating a generous pocket which allows these great Southeast Asian flavors to come into direct contact with the chicken, while simultaneously being protected by the skin during roasting.
We can never finish off a whole roasted chicken, and these leftovers can be used to make a lovely Asian version of chicken noodle soup. Rice noodles, chicken chunks, and greens can be stirred into hot chicken broth seasoned with a few generous shakes of fish sauce. Top with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime and you’ve got a second dinner.
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Thai-Spiced Roasted Chicken:
1 whole roasting chicken, about 6 pounds
¼ of a yellow onion, cut into large chunks
1” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
5 garlic cloves, smashed
2 limes, zest only
1 star anise
5 whole cloves
1 tsp. whole coriander seeds
5 white peppercorns
5-6 Thai bird chilies, dried
2 tsp. sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Combine the star anise, cloves, coriander, peppercorns, and dried chilies in a coffee or spice grinder and pulse several times to make a spice powder.
Combine this spice mixture with the onion, ginger, garlic, lime zest, salt, and coconut oil in a food processor and puree into a paste, scraping down the sides as necessary.
Rub about 1/3 of the paste inside the chicken, covering as much of the inner surfaces as possible. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, breasts up, and loosen the skin by sliding your hand between the meat and skin, starting at the bottom of the breast. Work your way up the breasts (racy!) and out to the legs. Once this space has been established, spread the remaining spice paste under the skin of the chicken, covering the breasts fully and sneaking some out to the legs as well.
When the spice paste has been used up, rub the outside of the chicken to spread some of the residual coconut oil on the skin, and then sprinkle the outside of the chicken with a little more salt. Tuck the wings behind the the back and tie the legs together with twine to help keep the chicken moist as it roasts.
Place into the oven and roast for 75-90 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees.
Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes, covered loosely with foil. Cut into 4 – 8 pieces for serving, spooning some of the remaining spiced fat over the chicken to keep it glossy and moist.