There is nothing quite like a homemade, freshly roasted chicken. It is one of the treasures of American cuisine. Crispy, delicate skin with a salty bite that crackles while giving way to juicy, tender meat. In a word, divine. One of the great things about roasting a chicken is the two for one deal….the root vegetables that roast happily in the juices below the bird so that when you pull the masterpiece out of the oven, you’ve got a spectacular main course with a perfectly paired side dish. Caramelized carrots, onions, potatoes and garlic mingling in flecks of salt and pepper, sprinkled with herbs each with the gooey deep flavor of home. I am seriously having a foodgasm here folks.
Amazingly enough, this was my first time ever roasting a whole chicken on my own. I am highly embarrassed to admit that fact and completely astonished at how I made it nearly 30 years without roasting my own bird. I do tend to get carried away in the Italian food territory, but consider this fair warning to all….this Girl and Her Kitchen will be roasting many many chickens from now on. Not only is this a spectacularly easy meal, but it was so unbelievably gorgeous and breathtakingly delicious I am amazedI haven’t made one every single day since!
There are two basic tools that I found to be quite useful in my chicken roasting adventure. A good roasting pan with rack. I got one for a wedding present but you can find pretty good deals during Macy’s frequent sales or even on amazon.com. Second was a digital thermometer. This last items was rather clutch in helping me figure out when my chicken was done because while I understand the theory of “when the juices run clear the chicken is done,” in practice I find this method damn near impossible. The thermometer takes a lot of the guessing out of the process.
So grab yourself a whole chicken, some aromatics, a few root veggies and you can throw together a fantastic homemade meal that you will be dreaming about for weeks to come.
Simply Perfect Roast Chicken
(Adapted from Almost Bourdain)
1 whole chicken (giblets package removed if applicable)
A few sprigs of thyme, plus a tablespoon of chopped thyme for garnish
5 garlic cloves, 3 smashed cloves and 2 minced (separated)
Rock salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp butter (unsalted)
1-2 large white onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
2-3 large carrots, peels and cut into 1 inch pieces
8-12 small potatoes, cut into quarters
Two hours before cooking the chicken, take it out of the frig to bring it up to room temp. (optional but highly recommended)
Preheat the oven to 450º. Meanwhile, cut up your vegetables into large chunks about 1 1/2″ square. In a bowl, toss the vegetables with the some herbs, garlic and about an 1/8 of a cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place in a large, deep roasting dish. Ensure the vegetables are laid out in an even layer and rest the chicken on top in the center (or if using a roasting pan you may lay the rack on top of vegetables for the chicken.)
here for a good instructional video. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs are tied close to the body, and the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.
Next, salt the chicken with about 1 tbsp of salt - I like to rain the salt over the bird so it has a nice, uniform coating that will results in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin. When it's cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper as well.
cast iron skillet or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone - I don't baste it, I don't add butter, you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don't want. Roast for about 50 to 70 minutes, until the juices run clear (internal temp is 165º, cooking time may vary). Remove it from the oven and sprinkle some fresh thyme on top of the chiceken along with a couple pads of butter. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.
video. The preparation is not meat to be super elegant. Serve with the roasted vegetables and a simple green salad or smashed peas.