Casserole Roasted Chicken with Garlic, Lemon and Watercress Salad

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Chef Jeremiah Tower makes this casserole recipe with roasted chicken, garlic, lemon, and watercress salad for Julia Child on her classic show "Cooking with Master Chefs."

Yield: 6 Servings

Course:
Theme:

Ingredients

  • For the Chicken:
  • A 5 1/2 to 6-pound roaster chicken
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 5 large heads of garlic separated into cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 lemons halved crosswise
  • For the Salad:
  • 1/4 cup very fresh-tasting walnut oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 12 bunches watercress
  • Special Equipment Suggested:
  • A covered casserole or roaster just large enough to hold the chicken comfortably
  • A bulb baster
  • A pastry brush
  • An oven-proof serving platter

Directions

  1. Timing: Count on a good 2 hours in all - 1 hour for covered roasting, 1/2 hour for browning, and a 30-minute rest before carving.
  2. Preparing the Chicken: Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place all ingredients and equipment beside your main work area on a large tray or newspapers, and plan to dispose of and/or wash everything (including your hands) thoroughly with soap and hot water when you are through.
  3. Remove the packet of giblets in the cavity, and reserve for something else. Remove any visible clumps of fat from inside the cavity, wash and dry them in paper towels, and set aside. Wash the chicken both inside and out under cold running water; dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  4. Salt and pepper the cavity lightly, pour in a spoonful of olive oil, and stuff in a handful of garlic and rosemary. Squeeze in the juice of a lemon, and add the lemon halves. Truss the chicken, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set it breast up in the casserole. Flatten the reserved pieces of chicken fat with your fist and lay them over the breast. Smash the rest of the garlic cloves with the flat of your big knife and lay them also over the chicken along with the remaining rosemary. Squeeze on the rest of the lemons, tossing the squeezed halves into the casserole.
  5. Ahead-of-Time Note: The chicken is now ready for the oven, and may be prepared to this point two hours ahead.
  6. Roasting the Chicken - 1 1/2 hours: Set the covered casserole in the lower third of the pre-heated oven. Basting is really not necessary, but a quick peek now and then is useful just to see how things are going. You may also desire a quick basting with the accumulated juices, using a bulb baster.
  7. After an hour, remove the cover and turn the thermostat up to 400 F. Continue roasting and letting the chicken brown.
  8. When Is It Done? The thighs will be fairly tender when pressed; the drumsticks will move up and down in their sockets fairly well. When the bird is lifted, the last juices to fall from the vent end will be clear yellow with no trace of rose.
  9. Remove the chicken to the serving platter, cut off the trussing strings, and return the chicken to the turned-off oven, leaving the door ajar.
  10. Preparing the Sauce and Serving the Roasted Chicken and Salad: Drain the juices from the casserole through a sieve. Using a ladle, push the garlic to extract juice from it as well. Skim the fat off the surface in the remaining juices of the strained liquid. Whisk in the walnut oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the watercress into the sauce to coat well. Place the seasoned watercress around the chicken and drizzle with any remaining sauce.