Serves 4-6

pix-2008-pepper-encrusted-roast-chicken-1
Ingredients:
5 ½ lb free-range roasting hen
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp kosher salt, divided
1/3 cup fresh ground pepper
Small onion or head of garlic
1 can of cola or beer

Directions:
1. Preheat oven or roaster to 350 degrees F.
2. Clean and wash the roasting hen and pat dry with paper towels
3. Remove the wings and discard or freeze for making stock later
4. Sprinkle ½ the salt into the cavity
5. Place four pie pans near the center of a hotel pan. Place an opened can of cola or beer on each pie pan.
6. Lower a chicken onto each can so the beverage is positioned partially inside the cavity, and the chicken legs help balance the bird upright.
7. Insert the onion or head of garlic into the necks to serve as a cork to trap moisture
8. Thoroughly lubricate the skin with vegetable oil
9. Sprinkle a heavy coating of fresh ground black peppercorns to cover the exterior as completely as possible. Pat on peppercorns where needed to fill in areas not covered.
10. Place other vegetables on the pie plate around each chicken, if desired, to bake. The pie pan will catch the juices for making gravy later.
11. Roast the hens for 1½ hours or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees at the center of the thigh.
12. Remove the roast chicken from the heat, cover loosely with foil, and let rest 10 minutes before carving.

(Cook’s note: “Done” means the juices run clear when a sharp knife is inserted into the joint between the body and the thigh)