For the past few weeks, we've been parked back at Shaun's family house, where we have access to their enormous traeger. Many an evening has been filled with grilled dinners and conversations out on their patio, overlooking the vast expanse of the Willamette Valley and the rugged outlined of Mount Hood looming in the far western view. Their house is surrounded by neighboring wineries, berry and lavender farms, organic meat and dairy producers, to the point where the large box store grocery outlets almost seem obsolete in the height of summer harvest time. The other day, the women of the family went on an excursion to a local meat farmer only a mile or so down the gravel road from the house. Here we found a young couple who are righteously passionate about organic meat farming and trying to make it work on a few acres in the hills of Washington County. Their system of farming was thoroughly explained and we were given several options for purchasing from them. In the end, we settled on a yearly chicken allotment and were given the first four of the 20 chickens we would be receiving through the end of the year. I was thrilled. Fresh roast chicken is one of my specialties and Shaun and I can live off the meat of a chicken for days.
Back at home, we left two chickens out to thaw and I prepped the necessary items to cook the birds. Traegers are incredible, as they allow you to smoke and grill with the flick of a switch and turn of a dial. The wood pellets, for which you can choose flavors of hickory, cherry, and many others, provide a deep smokey profile to whatever you choose to cook on the grill. The system of the grill is that of a convection oven, so you can not only grill, but bake and roast too. My favorite way to cook chicken now is to smoke the birds for at least an hour and then roast for the remainder of time. If you do not have a traeger or smoker, you can simply roast these in your oven at the same temperature and time as I detail in the roasting section of the recipe. Either way, I hope you'll enjoy as much as I do, the herbal quality of the meat from the herb marinade.
Herb Smoked Chicken Roast
- 1 Whole Fryer Chicken
- 6-8 Whole Cloves of Garlic
- 1 Cup Mixture of Fresh Herbs (I used basil for this batch)
- 1 Cup Olive Oil
- Lots of Sea Salt and Ground Pepper
- 2-3 Lemons, Halved and Juiced
- Turn on smoker or pre-heat oven to 375°.
- Clean chicken and sprinkle evenly, inside and out, with salt and pepper.
- Combine 5 cloves of garlic, half of the herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil in food processor and blend until garlic is minced. If you do not have food processor, simply minced garlic and herbs, then blend with lemon juice and olive oil.
- Stuff cavity of chicken with remaining herbs, garlic, and halved lemons.
- Rub herb and garlic mixture all over chicken, massaging it into the skin. Make sure to coat the bird well, as to achieve full flavor.
- Cover a baking sheet with foil and place chicken breast down.
- Smoke for 1-2 hours, your preference. I prefer about an hour and a half to get a good quarter inch of smoke flavor in the meat. If you're not smoking your bird, then place directly in the oven and follow cooking instructions below.
- After smoking, turn heat up to 375° or place in pre-heated oven and cook with breasts down for 60 minutes. For the last 30-45 minutes, turn bird, so the whole chicken achieves the golden roasted color. Cook until internal temperature reaches 180°, which takes about an hour and a half for a small-medium size bird.