Almost every grocery store in America now offers those small, hot-off-the-rotisserie chickens that even I admit to purchasing occasionally for a quick-fix dinner. But for some reason, it seems that many people shy away from roasting their own birds at home, save Thanksgiving and Christmas. This made me curious so I began asking around. Some people shrugged and said they only do turkeys at holiday time. Some said they never thought about roasting a whole chicken. Some claimed that it was too time-consuming (it’s not). But the most cited answer was really surprising: cooking a whole bird is too intimidating. I couldn’t believe it! People were chicken about roasting chicken!
Hopefully, I can help change that because I think everyone should have a good, old-fashioned recipe for roasted chicken. Besides having the Rockwellian romance of gathering around a whole bird at the table with family and friends, there’s nothing quite like the homey smell of a freshly roasted chicken. But what people don’t realize, is that it is also one of the simplest and economical dinners to prepare.
This recipe yields tender, juicy meat and crisp skin (thanks to a dry brine) that is perfect on its own, as a springboard for some crafty leftovers, or as a basic recipe for chicken salads, pot pies and enchiladas. So, get creative and play around with the possibilities. And relax! It’s so easy to prepare, there’s nothing to be “chicken” about!
The Stock Pot: Fundamental Recipes – Classic Roast Chicken
- one whole roasting chicken (5 to 6 pounds)
- kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 lemon, halved
- Remove the bag of giblets from the chicken. Rinse the chicken thoroughly inside and out; pat dry. Liberally salt the chicken inside and out. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Refrigerate uncovered for 2 hours or up to overnight.
- About 30 minutes before you’re ready to roast, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the butter and olive oil. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and olive oil and season with several grinds of pepper. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, parsley, bay leaves, garlic, onion and lemon. Tie the legs together with some kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the chicken.
- Roast the chicken for 1-1/2 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 to 170 degrees, the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear. Remove the chicken to a platter and allow to rest 15 minutes before carving.
Planning: The dry brine not only seasons the bird, but makes the skin crispy – so if you can do it a day ahead, you’ll get more flavorful results. But don’t be put off by its appearance as it brines and dries out in the refrigerator – the skin will become translucent, which is completely normal but will brown beautifully in the oven.
Product Purity: Using unsalted butter in all your cooking and baking allows you to control the amount of salt in your finished dish. Plus, it has a cleaner, fresher taste.