Savor the holidays with a special roast

Roasts are customary during the holiday season because they often feed a crowd and look impressive on serving platters. Some people opt for a roast beef while others prefer to roast a turkey. However, chicken just as easily can be turned into a holiday dinner since it is versatile and tasty. In addition, the cooking time for a roasted chicken is much shorter than it is with other roasted dishes.

This recipe for “Roast Chicken with Whole Roasted Garlic” from “Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life” (Ballantine Books) by Rachael Ray provides the basis for a tasty holiday meal. Simply multiply the recipe as needed depending on the number of guests.

Roast Chicken with Whole Roasted Garlic

Serves 4

1 4-pound chicken

Kosher salt

2 lemons, one pierced several times with the tines of a fork and one halved

Few sprigs each of thyme and rosemary

4 large bulbs garlic, 1 per person or portion, ends cut to expose the cloves (keep the hairy root end intact)

EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) for drizzling

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup white wine

Warm, crusty bread

Place the chicken in a shallow baking dish. Salt the chicken inside and out and place uncovered in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Pat the chicken dry and fill with the pierced whole lemon, thyme and rosemary. Tie the legs up. Dress the bulbs of garlic with EVOO; season with salt and pepper. Arrange the garlic in the baking dish around the chicken. Rub the skin of the chicken with butter and season with pepper. Pour the wine into the bottom of the dish.

Roast the chicken for 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the dark meat reads 165 F. Let the chicken stand for a few minutes on a carving board until just cool enough to handle. Carve the chicken, dividing the white and dark parts and slicing the breast meat on the bias. Arrange the chicken on plates or a platter and top with drippings, juices and the juice from the remaining halved lemon. The garlic may get dark but it won’t be charred. Serve in the skins or squeeze the paste from the skins with your knife and pass with a spoon to eat with the chicken or to slather on the warm chunks of bread.

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