If you’ve never roasted a chicken before (and you eat meat), please, please do it. It’s way easier than you anticipate and the chicken you make can be eaten for days on end. Roasting one yourself is just a teensy bit more expensive than buying a rotisserie chicken – and a rotisserie chicken doesn’t come with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Make this when you have company coming over (perfect for parents and significant others’ parents), make it for Sunday dinner, make it for yourself to eat while you have a Christmas movie marathon in your reindeer socks.
My method for roasting chicken involves flipping the chicken over halfway through; by cooking it breast side down for half the time, the breast meat gets super juicy, but you also get that delicious crispy skin on top.
Roast a chicken, have meals for a week; this meat will keep in the fridge for a few days. Try making chicken salad, chicken tacos, chicken casserole, chicken pot pie, chicken sandwiches, anything chicken, everything chicken! I ate this chicken for dinner, than used it for quesadillas for lunch the next day, then made a big old pot of soup with some of the shredded meat. The next night I reconfigured it into enchiladas and I’ll probably make something else out of it before it’s gone.
Caution: photos of raw meat are imminent.
makes 1 whole chicken
total time: 60 minutes to 90 minutes
total hands on time: about 5- 10 minutes
What you’ll need:
1 whole roasting chicken (about 3-5 lbs is best. I have a 7 pounder here, eek!)
olive oil (about 1/2 a cup)
fresh herb of your choice (I’m using tarragon here)
What you’ll do:
1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
2. Next, you’ll assemble your flavorings: make a little spice rub by mixing together salt, pepper and garlic powder (or any other spices you like) in a small bowl or container. Pour some olive oil into another small bowl. Next, cut one lemon in half horizontally and slice the other lemon very very thinly. Gather and chop your herbs. By doing this before you actually touch the raw meat, you cut down on the possibility of your bottle of olive oil, container of salt, etc, getting contaminated by raw chicken juices.
3. Take the chicken out of it’s packaging and remove the giblets (they’ll probably be in a little bag inside the cavity of the chicken).
4. Rinse the chicken all over with cold water, than pat it completely dry.
5. Next, rub the chicken all over with the olive oil, making sure to get it inside the chicken as well.
6. Do the same thing with the spice mixture, being very thorough.
7. Cut a tiny slit in the skin of the chicken on both sides, near the cavity’s opening; insert the lemon slices and fresh herbs underneath the skin. This really gets the flavor into the meat.
8. Place the lemon halves and the rest of the herbs inside the chicken.
9. Place the chicken in a roasting pan and roast for 45 minutes with the breast side down. The chicken should look like this when you put it in the oven:
10. After 45 minutes has passed, flip the chicken over so the breast side is facing up. Use tongs (or a helpful boyfriend who holds the pan steady) to do this so you don’t burn your hands! Roast for another approximately 45 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads at least 160 degrees. The chicken I used has a little plastic thing that pops out when it’s done, but you can also check and see if it is cooked enough by cutting it and seeing if the juices are clear or not. Let it cool for about 10 minutes or so; make sure you remove the lemon slices and herbs from underneath the skin and inside the chicken before eating it.
Your roasting time will vary based on your oven and the size of your chicken, so just keep checking it. I was surprised this 7 pounder roasted so quickly; it took about 45 minutes on each side. If you have a chicken that weights a few lbs less (like 3 or 4 lbs), you might even need as little as 30 minutes on each side.
I’ve also used orange and clementines in place of the lemons, basil and thyme in place of the tarragon, Old Bay instead of salt and pepper. As I recall, the tarragon/orange combination was so damn good. It’s fun to try different things and see what works, but if you don’t have herbs or anything on hand, this would be just fine with simple salt and pepper. You can also roast a chicken on a bed of root vegetables, like carrots, potatoes, parsnips, etc. Then you can eat the veggies which have soaked up all the good chicken juice as a side dish. I’m not a gravy girl, but whisk together the juices in the bottom of the pan with a bit of flour if you are a gravy girl (or boy).