Saturday, August 18, 2012

Camp Recipe: Dutch Oven Lemon Herb Roast Chicken

Last night I decided it was silly to wait for a camping trip to pull out the dutch oven.  I had a small whole chicken that I wanted to roast, so I set up in the driveway.

First of all, I have to admit, I hate raw chicken.  I hate touching it, I hate the smell of's just gross.  I rarely make whole chicken because I can't use a fork to pick it up like I can with chicken pieces.  Second, I couldn't for the life of me, find a dutch oven recipe for roasting chicken, let alone one for lemon herb chicken. (I had some lemons in the fridge I wanted to use up)  Third, it was windy as all heck last night and chilly, which had a big impact on the cooking time. A 1.2kg bird should have taken about 1 1/4 took 2 1/2 but the chicken was juicy, tender and really flavorful.  Here's the recipe I came up with after piecing together bits of traditional recipes and adapting them for the dutch oven.

Lemon Herb Chicken
10" dutch oven (cause that's the only size I have...)

1 small chicken
1 lemon
3 gloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
1 chopped onion
1 tsp each  dry basil, oregano, fennel seed, rosemary and garlic powder.
olive oil

Start your charcoal.  I ground up the herbs a bit in a mortar and pestle to release more their flavor.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry.  Make sure all the inside stuff is gone.  Place the garlic and half the lemon inside the cavity of the chicken.  drizzle olive oil over the chicken and rub the herbs into the skin.

Place 8 coals under the oven and about 12 on top.  Let it warm up for a few minutes.  Put the onions in the bottom as well as the other half of lemon.  Set the chicken on top.  Cover and bake.  Baking time will depend on size of the bird.  (about 20 minutes for each pound, plus an extra 15 minutes.) Remember to rotate the lid and pot every 15-20 minutes to avoid hot spots.  You'll probably have to replenish your coals after 45 minutes.  The chicken is done when the internal temperature gets to 180 degrees. (poke a meat thermometer into the breast but not so it's touching any bones)

I'm not a great cook, especially when it comes to meat...I tend to err on the side of caution and, as my grandmother likes to do, cook the hell out of it rather than risk serving it underdone and getting my family sick.  I'm also not that great of an experimenter in the kitchen, something I'm trying to change.  Chris can look in the cupboards and see lots of potential meal ideas...I like to have a recipe.  Besides that, I was pretty happy with the way this turned out.  I've never managed to make chicken that juicy and tender in my normal oven.  I think this would be pretty easy to make while camping as well, which is a bonus!

On a side note, I took my camera out to snap a picture of the finished product, then completely forgot to  use it.  I swear, senility is setting in and I'm only 36.

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