Cooking with fresh herbs, according to the famed Craig Claiborne, is an art and an act almost as ancient as fire. It ranges from the cuisines of primitive lands to the more sophisticated delights of the French with the subtle fines herbes, the leeks and shallots. These are the things which a master chef ranks in spirit with butter, cream and the glorious bouquet of wine. The names alone, savory, sage, tarragon, basil, saffron, seem like sheer poetry to me. Every spring is a celebration when the the first signs of herbs show themselves in my garden. My brain goes full speed thinking of all the culinary creations that await our partnership. Simply, fresh herbs make me crazy happy!
One of the first to make an appearance is tarragon, a lovely herb said to symbolize unselfish sharing (also Craig Claiborne) and known for its distinctive aniselike flavor. It is widely used in French cuisine in a variety of dishes including chicken, fish and vegetables, as well as many sauces, the best known being Bernaise.
All this talk of the French may make you think difficult but I make this roast chicken recipe on the grill that is easy and very satisfying. I assure you this is both company and comfort food.
1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 lbs, preferrably organic
1 1/2 T poultry seasoning blend (dried sage, savory, rosemary, dill weed, allspice, thyme, marjoram, ginger or blend of your choice)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, quartered
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and smashed
1 shallot or small onion, peeled and quartered
2 large sprigs tarragon
Extra-virgin olive oil
- Remove chicken from the refrigerator one hour before cooking to bring to room temperature. Pat to dry inside and out with a paper towel.
- Meanwhile, mix sea salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning blend in a small bowl. Also place 2-3T olive oil in a separate bowl.
- Season the cavity generously with some of the salt mixture and stuff it with 2 lemon wedges, garlic, shallot or onion, and tarragon.
- Brush the outside of the chicken with the olive oil making sure to cover completely.
- Sprinkle it liberally with the poultry seasoning mixture and truss the chicken to form a little football shape.
Meanwhile prepare your grill for cooking the indirect method according to manufacturers instructions. When grill is heated, you will want to maintain a temperature of 375-400 degrees, place chicken in the area without direct heat. Cover, allow to cook, undisturbed for 1 hour. Uncover and check the internal temperature by placing an insta-read thermometer into the crease between the breast and thigh. The internal temperature should be 160 degrees. Cooking will vary depending on your grill so continue to cook until desired temperature is achieved. When golden and crisp and cooked to above temp, remove from the grill, tent with foil and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. When ready to serve, squeeze remaining lemon wedges over the top to refresh. Cut and serve with the sides of your choice.
Last night I paired this entree with smashed red potatoes, infused with cream, butter and a bit of tarragon to carry over the flavor profile. Since my husband was so anxious to dive into the chicken, I don’t have a photo but the prep is really easy.
- Choose enough red potatoes (or any others you may have) to cover the number of people you wish to serve, wash and quarter them. Place them in a pot and cover them with cold water. Bring to a boil, season the water with salt and cook until fork tender (poke with a fork and it pierces and pulls out easily).
- Drain, transfer back into the pan and add a couple of splashes of heavy cream, half and half, or milk, a large pat of butter, sea salt and pepper.
- Smash with a potato masher adding additional cream and/or butter until you achieve a texture that pleases you. I like it smooth but still a bit chunky and not dry. Taste, adjust the seasoning and toss in a tablespoon of chopped tarragon leaves.
A beautiful chicken, savory smashed potatoes and a side of asparagus, lightly steamed, drizzled with good quality extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with flaked sea salt and you have a feast!
Writing this makes me want to eat it all over again. Let me know how yours turned out. Questions? Always happy to answer. Good luck.