Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Simply Perfect Roast Chicken

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)
1 lemon
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
Olive Oil
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.)
Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. This will help get a crispy skin. Season the cavity with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put a few sprigs of thyme, a couple smash garlic cloves and a cut up lemon into the cavity. Truss the bird.
Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it's a good technique to feel comfortable with. Click 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.

Place the chicken in a 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.
Remove the twine. For a good overview on how to carve the bird check out this video. The preparation is not meat to be super elegant. Serve with the roasted vegetables and a simple green salad or smashed peas.


  1. Mouth-watering instructions, thanks! I'm buying a roaster tomorrow and will try your recipe. I also love the "one pot" only meal prep for the chicken and veggies.

  2. This is very similar to the Roast Chicken I make occasionally. It always turns out perfect and my fiance devours it quickly.

  3. Nothing makes me happier than a golden roasted bird and some spuds!

  4. Sharon, let me know how your bird turns out!!!

  5. I just made your roast chicken recipe. It was my first time making roast chicken and I followed your recipe and it all came out amazingly. I'll definitely be making this regularly now. Thanks for the clear and lovely directions.

  6. I'm so happy you tried it Lacey! It really is easy and tastes soooooo good!!!!

  7. I know u got a hubby an all, but u r my ideal picture of a woman, and by golly, u sure can write. I hope to meat a woman of your caliber one day, I also hope my chicken comes out perfect. Thanks for the only good chicken roast instructions I could find on the whole net!