Just what the world needs. One more recipe for roast chicken. Only I do. I really do.
Perfect Roast Chicken
1. Find a chicken. It should be local, unless it’s not. It should be organic, unless it’s local, unless you are just at the regular supermarket and I’ll be damned if I’m going to go to three different stores just to get ingredients for one dinner, and then it’s just a regular chicken hopefully not from some Southern chicken farm that makes their farmers into indentured servants. On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t find a chicken. Maybe you should just make lentils. Except you NEED roast chicken. You dreamt about roast chicken last night and woke up thinking about those amazing little oyster bites on the back that you’ve loved ever since you saw Amelie in college. Roast chicken it is.
2. Bring the chicken home and unwrap it. If it’s not local, wash it, but if it is, don’t wash it, because, like Dorie Greenspan says, you know where you got your chicken and so why wash it. But if you wash it, you better make sure it’s dry, or Thomas Keller will sigh and roll his eyes and say something about home cooks wrecking something as easy as roast chicken.
3. Contemplate spatchcocking. Next time, you’ll spatchcock.
4. Rub the chicken with things that smell good. Put them under the skin if you’re ready to get intimate with the chicken. You can even put them… inside. Rub a little oil or butter or ghee or nothing at all on the skin. Let the salt fall from a distance like gentle snow.
5. Now is the time to realize that according to Judy Rodgers, you’ve already botched this whole thing. Because really, if you truly wanted to make a decent chicken, you’ve would have massaged the whole bird with salt 2 days ago. Way to mess that one up. But at least you know to bring the chicken up to room temperature because way back when, you read something about that in Harold McGee, so you let that naked bird sit on the counter, building a little wall around it to protect it from your curious cat.
6. Except it looks a little inappropriate, a little exposed, and OF COURSE! The trussing! Only the figure eight doesn’t seem to really be holding anything together, and there’s definitely a trick you’re forgetting, but three videos of Jacques Pepin later, it still doesn’t quite look right. Abandon twine.
7. Preheat the oven. Make it low and slow like Laurie Colwin taught you, and then look at the clock the change your mind and pump that oven a la Nigel Slater. HOT. Roast until the fire alarm goes off, then roast some more. When the skin is golden/ the juices run clear/ the legs wiggle with a quiet grace/ the fire alarm goes off one more time, the chicken is done. Let it rest on a cutting board while you swat hungry husbands/ children/ cats away from picking at it while it rests. If there’s time, put the pan on the stove and let those juices bubble away as they mix with whatever wine is left from the bottle you’ve been drinking all along. And then, as you do your best to separate that chicken into eight seemingly distinct pieces, eat those little oysters along the spine. Give yourself a greasy and contented pat on the back, and let the rest of the family go to town on that chicken.
In all seriousness, I need your help. I’m working on a roast chicken recipe for the book, because of course a book about dinner needs a roast chicken recipe, but even though I’ve roasted probably hundreds of chickens in my life, every new “Perfect Roast Chicken” recipe seduces me, and usually it is indeed perfect. It is a good problem to have, but still.
Can we put this topic to bed? Will you tell me how you do it? There seem to be as many perfect roast chickens as there are stubborn cooks in the world, and I’d rather hear it from you than anyone else. Or of course, you can just tell me a roast chicken story. You know I love a good story.
Your comment will enter you to win (and I kid you not- take it from this stubborn cook) the perfect pan for roast chicken. Not too small, not too big, and cast iron so it can get nice and hot. It works both on the stove and in the oven so I can let those juices bubble away with wine while the chicken rests. It’s rounded, gorgeous, and doesn’t cost a month’s rent. It’s also a really good pan for everything else. But oh, the chicken!
Thanks to the good folks at Mighty Nest, I have a Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven ready and waiting to fly its way to you and hold your perfect roast chicken. (Remember Mighty Nest and all their wonderful solutions?) Go look and let me know if you love blue or green! I’m so happy they’re carrying the Lodge dutch ovens. And while you’re over there, they’ve got a few new napkin patterns I love, and I know some of you are still looking for those perfect napkins…
Thank you Mighty Nest, and thank you, stubborn cooks! Lay it on me. Let’s roast this thing.
I’ll chose the winner in a week! (That’s Friday, May 3)
I actually like to butterfly the thing and just stick it on the rack in the oven (or a grill, if we had one). It comes out kind of crispy and delicious and cooks in less than half the time.
Betty G says
That is spatchcocking it!
I spatchcock the Thanksgiving turkey, too–much easier to cook through when dealing with a tiny Japanese oven. I bet spatchcocking with a nice rosemary-butter rub would be delicious.
Margot C says
I always butterfly the Thanksgiving Turkey as well, makes life a whole lot easier.
Get the best chicken you can. Sometimes that’s the on sale at the local supermarket, other times it’s the free range Chicken CSA. Oil and butter a la Julia Child. Squeeze a lemon over it and put the rest of the lemon in the cavity. Or rub with Muskeegee Avenue Chicken and Fish spice from Penzey’s Spices. Bake.Regular or Convection. You just can’t wrong with roast chicken. A meat thermometer helps you to make sure you’ve roasted it enough. But really? It’s so easy. So delicious.
I truss my chicken, put butter (lots) under the breast skin, salt and pepper the inside, and sometimes dried sage and thyme in the cavity. I cook it like Shannon Hayes recommends in her blog – 350 for 1.5 hours or so in a copper/stainless roasting pan. Sometimes I put some new potatoes or root veggies in the pan to roast at the same time.
I used to put lemons and tons of fresh herbs in the cavity. But now that I’ve done it dry as described above, there is no going back. Lemons add good flavor, but all that moisture just steams the meat.
The best part of roasting a chicken is homemade broth. I always know when it’s time to roast a chicken when I look in the freezer and see that my veggie scrap ziplock bag is getting full. After chicken has been cooked, and the meat consumed (or removed for left overs) I toss the carcass in the crockpot, put in my 1 gallon ziplock bag full of frozen onion peels, carrot ends, leek tops, etc – then cover it all with water, put it on low, and forget about it until the next morning (or 8-10 hours) Nothing wasted!
PS. I like green 🙂
Oh, I totally agree on the stock. I just keep a bag of chicken bones in the freezer and every so often I make a huge batch.
I may a lot of roast chicken. The way I roast it is usually the same, though the herbs and spices I use change frequently. I wash the bird, dry the bird, rub the bird down with some olive oil. I’ll put lemon and oregano sprigs in cavity, and sometimes and onion, or I’ll loosen the skin and tuck fresh sage, thyme or tarragon under there, sometimes I’ll just sprinkle it with a cajun spice mix. Depends on how I feel that night. But in the end it always goes into a 350 degree oven, on a little wire rack, sitting in an old short sided, 9″ x 13″ cake pan. I toss some veggies (carrots, baby potatoes, garlic cloves, onions, whatever I have on hand) around the chicken, and in it goes. Usually takes about an hour. All depends on the size of the bird. I prefer organic, free range, but it’s hard to get around where I live. It’s easier to get parts at my local health food store. The whole bird is much harder to come by. I love Lodgecraft and have many pieces handed down from older family members. They are worth their weight in gold. Thanks for the giveaway!
Margot C says
Ha! I have a friend who had an ancient cake pan and rack dedicated only to chickens; and her’s are so very good!
I follow Ina Garten’s recipe for perfect roast chicken. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/perfect-roast-chicken-recipe/index.html
Love the blue color of the dutch oven. Thank you for the opportunity to win.
I follow the Judy Rogers method. Except when I don’t. Pre-salting really and truly does make for a stupendously moist, flavorful bird with no other steps necessary. But yeah, sometimes I don’t plan that far ahead. So for those times, I mix a bunch of coarse salt and ground pepper in a small bowl, and spread that all over the chickens (yes, chickens, because I *always* roast 2 at once; I love having leftover roast chicken in the freezer) and let sit at room temp for an hour. That results in moist and delicious meat, too.
Love the pan. Love it in green!
Oh, yes- thanks for mentioning the TWO chickens. I left that out, but I always do two when I’ve got them.
I’m a big fan of just sticking an onion in the cavity, but this IS making me re-think my plans for dinner tonight.
Oh, and green I think…although I would take blue
Michael Schneider says
I know it’s not much use to you if I just give you a recipe out of someone else’s cookbook, but there really isn’t anyone better than Michael Ruhlman on roast chicken (and I want to enter the giveaway for the pan, of course). Here’s Kenji’s (minor) adaptation of Ruhlman’s recipe for Perfect Roasted Chicken (you know Kenji, right?):
• One 3- to 4-pound chicken
• 1 lemon and/or 1 medium onion, quartered
• Kosher salt
1. About 1 hour before cooking the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator, and rinse it. If you intend to make a pan sauce, cut off the wing tips and add them, along with the neck if you have it, to the pan in which you will roast the bird. Truss the chicken or stuff it with the lemon or onion, or both. Salt it and set it on a plate lined with paper towels/absorbent paper.
2. Preheat the oven to 450°F to 425°F if you’re concerned about smoke. Set the oven on convection if that’s an option. Put the chicken in an oven-proof frying pan and slide it into the oven.
3. After 1 hour, check the color of the juices. If they run red, return the chicken to the oven and check it again in 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before carving it.
4. Carve the chicken and serve.
Is it just me or are you getting funnier? 🙂
With a beautiful, smallish chicken from locals Farmer Jen & Farmer Jamie…. I salt it inside and out, garlic cloves under the skin and anywhere else I can tuck them, homegrown thyme, rosemary, and sage inside and outside, and most importantly, a quartered lemon tucked inside. 350 for one hour, check, maybe add potatoes, a second hour. Delish.
Ha! Honestly, life is getting funnier. I just can’t keep it in. Also seem to be swearing more, so I guess they go together.
We have a joke about Bitmann-izing chicken… But, here is what I really do. I purchase free-range chicken from our farmer friend. I pat it dry and place it in a casserole on top of a bed of carrots, celery and leeks (or celeriac, parsnips and onions in the fall). Rub the chicken with softened butter. Sprinkle it generously with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and thyme from our garden (or possibly some sage or savory). I add just enough stock to keep the bottom of the pan moist as it roasts. I start with a roaring hot oven or grill for 1/2 hour–to get a lovely color. Then I turn the heat down to 325 and roast it until the legs pull away easily.
While the chicken is resting I take the drippings and the roasted veggies from the pan and blend them up with my hand blender. Add a little flour if necessary, some salt and pepper and heat it up thoroughly on the stove.
After removing the meat the carcass ALWAYS gets tossed in a bag in the freezer to make stock for next time. 🙂
Don’t look at me. I can’t roast a whole chicken to save my life.
But I wanted to say that I liked the way you wrote this post. This is why I always give up and cut the darn thing into pieces to roast it.
Life is long! And as you can see from these comments, there’s a million ways to roast a chicken. Maybe you just have to find your method 🙂
I’m partial to a version of the Thomas Keller method. Ideally I like to salt the chicken the day before and leave it unwrapped in the fridge, but most of the time I’m lucky if I can manage to salt it an hour or two before cooking. I put a cast iron skillet in the oven at 450 to preheat, and then I pat the chicken dry again before dropping it in the hot skillet. Then it goes in the oven and I don’t mess with it until its done. A small chicken is usually done in 45 minutes to an hour. It comes out so good we’ve been known to devour an entire chicken standing at the counter without ever making it to the table.
Rebecca Ringquist says
I like this one from Ina…..http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-and-garlic-roast-chicken-recipe/index.html
I usually clean it and then just rub all kinds of spices all over it and throw it in the oven. I’m usually just going for simple at that point! 🙂
K. B. Johnson says
I’m impatient so I usually cut the chicken in half. I put it, skin side up, on a bed of very roughly chopped leeks and apples (wilted leeks from the back of the fridge and the almost rotten apples from the bottom of the basket work just fine – maybe better. Any past-their-prime oranges can get quartered and thrown in too.) I drizzle the whole thing with olive oil and rub oil in to the chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If I’m feeling extravagant I put a couple nuts of butter under the skin. Then I throw in some branches of rosemary (or thyme or sage). Bake at 450 for 40 minutes and pass under the broiler if the skin hasn’t crisped enough (yes, setting off the smoke alarm is key in my houe too.) Baste with pan juices if you remeber to (helps set off the smoke alarm sooner.) Toss in some water or white wine or cider if things are looking too dry (really depends on how rotten your apples are!) The leeks and apples in the pan make a sort of carmelized leek applesauce that tastes best over rice with golden raisins and toasted pine nuts.
Ah, the leeks and apples! I’m always looking for a home for those sad wilty leeks in my fridge. This sounds great.
My favorite way recently is to roast it on a bed of rock salt. Oven set at 400, season the bird however you like, stick a couple garlic cloves and a lemon in the middle. Pour 4 lbs of rock salt in a 9×13 pan and put the chicken on top. Roast for 50 minutes, flip, and roast for another 50 minutes. It makes the skin SO crispy! I have to fight to not just eat all the skin.
Haha I think the recipe you’ve written here is exactly what should go into your book! I’ve tried a lot of different recipes, and I can’t say any of them have ever been perfect, but they’ve all been delicious. Most recently I made one in the slow cooker…no crispy skin, but the meat was so moist. I just dumped a whole chicken in the crock pot, drizzled it with a little bit of olive oil, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and tossed a quartered lemon in the bottom of the pot. Set it on low for 8 hours, and it was perfectly done.
P.S. I love the green pot!
There are so many slow cooker chickens in these comments- that’s the one method I’ve never tried! I’m a sucker for the slow cooker though- that will be next for sure.
JoAnn C. says
I use the crockpot, Alana. I skin the chicken the way grandma taught mom and mom taught me. Pour olive oil all over it, (don’t tell mom she’s the only Italian woman I know who hates olive oil). Then I do the mad scientist thing and sprinkle like crazy over the entire chicken: Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, dried parsley, thyme, dill weed and parm cheese. After rubbing all the spices, herbs and cheese on the chicken. I put it breast side down, (grandma again), on a bed of onions and cook for about 8 hours. I have never actually done it in the oven. Hope that helps you a little bit.
Thank you for that! I’ve done chickens every single way you’ve listed above. Sadly, there isn’t a perfect way! They all make delicious chicken! I’ve come to the conclusion that if you salt well, get it to room temp, put it at high heat (475 the whole time for a small bird – under 4lbs) and do something delicious with the juice, you’ll have a great chicken. If you feel like doing something extra special, Bittman and Sifton’s preserved lemon under the skin and baste with honey butter recipe is also pretty amazing. Here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/magazine/mark-bittman-and-sam-siftons-feast-in-a-day.html
My book recipe that I’m working on is pretty centered around preserved lemons, too. But the honey baste! Sounds amazing.
I like to smoke our chickens on the grill, unless I’m not around and need a quick fix like putting them in the slow cooker. We butcher our own chickens and usually it works out quite well…..except last time my son decided to raise and ultimately butcher when I wasn’t there to help and, well….he cleaned them well but forgot to cut out the “butts” So for a little while yet, I have to finish “cleaning” before cooking. Always a learning experience around here! (Sorry, not exactly how to cook them…..just had to share the chicken “joke” from around here. 🙂
I’d LOVE the blue…but green would be fine too!
Ha! Love this.
Oh my – I *love* the green! I’m such a sucker for green, I even picked out a pair of green eyeglass frames this last time….
My absolute favorite way to roast chicken is the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for chicken roasted on the grill – you put coals to both sides, place the chicken on the grill, cover with the grill lid and roast for about 30 minutes, then turn the chicken over and roast until it’s done. Oh, and there is a dry rub and a wet rub to put on the chicken to marinate it. They are amazing. I’ve done this in the oven, too, in a dutch oven (but not covered) and it works out really well. (I’ve written that out from memory so don’t quote me on this!)
And Mighty Nest – I was browsing around their website earlier today – I love it!
Elizabeth Beattie says
When I don’t want to hang out by a hot oven I use my slow cooker. Butter and season the heck out of the bird. All kinds of seasonings all over the top. Cut up some lemons and stuff them inside. Place on a rack in your slow cooker and let it go over night on low. In the morning you have a gorgeous rotisserie style chicken. Not quite the same as oven roasted, but if you live in my house, in california, with crappy A/C in the summer, you NEED a version that doesn’t utilize the oven.
I’ve given up on following any chicken roasting directions. As long as it gets in the oven without the cat licking it, I’m happy. I do usually try to get some melted butter on it and garlic cloves and lemon shoved in the cavity. And, if things are going really well there may be dried, or even fresh, herbs involved. But, really the only chicken roasting rule I have, aside from it being fully cooked, is that it absolutely must be local.
And, I’m thinking green. I have a bigger one in blue. I think my kitchen needs some green.
Amen on the whole getting it into the oven without the cat licking thing. I’m with you.
Oh, and salt! Silly me, of course there’s always lots of salt involved.
Oh good lord. Roast chicken. I cannot roast a good chicken to save my life. It always come out with this weird too-soft texture and any veggies with it are soggy. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong.
Here’s what NOT to do:
Preheat over to 350. Put chicken in a pan on a little rack. Put root vegetables in the pan. Rub chicken with butter. Tie the little nubby leg parts together as best you can. Stick very thin lemon slices under the skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stick any leftover lemon inside the chicken. Roast until the meat thermometer tells you it’s 5 degrees from being done. Take it out and let it sit, covered with aluminum foil and check to ensure it’s reached the proper temperature. Taste chicken. Feed it to dog instead. Try to figure out how to salvage soggy root vegetables.
Oh, no! It sounds like maybe all these dry methods might help. Air drying in the fridge? Keep the cavity empty? Keep it totally simple? I’ve fallen prey to the soggy chicken tragedy myself, but I think going dry and simple is a good remedy. And if you do end up with another soggy chicken, it will make really good soup.
I love “another” perfect roast chicken recipe. I have a tendency to try a new one every month….then come back to the smitten-kitchen’s buttermilk roast chicken. Hers always seems to be the standard by which I compare all others.
Can’t wait for the book!
Ah buttermilk! I have to look that one up. I do chicken parts in buttermilk, but I’ve never done a whole chicken.
I like to make what I call the Scarborough Fair Roast Chicken (after the Simon & Garfunkel song…or the old Child ballad). Take a good local chicken, remove the giblets if needed, then rinse and pat dry. Stuff the cavity with a couple of lemon halves, then rub the chicken with olive oil and a mixture of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (it can be either fresh, chopped finely, or dry). I try to get as much under the skin as possible, but I also sprinkle some of the herbs on top. Place chicken breast-side up on a roasting pan. Cook in a 425 degree F oven until juices run clear and a thermometer inserted into breast meat reads 165 degrees F. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, then carve into it and enjoy! You can also roughly chop carrots, potatoes, and onions, spread them around the chicken in the pan, and roast them together.
I have never roasted a chicken……maybe because we only like white meat?
I roast my chicken the same way I do a turkey because I looooooove it soo much! Simple – sing the song – parsley, sage rosemary and thyme – chop it up and make a paste with olive oil then spread it between the skin and the meat. Rub the outside with butter. Then rub it with more butter. Place it in a roasting bag and follow the directions. It usually takes about an hour on 350 I think. Try it, and see if you love it as much as I do!
The second reference to Simon and Garfunkle! A first on this blog, for sure.
Hannah M. says
I think the most important thing to keep in mind when roasting a chicken is that you need good company to share it with. This sounds a bit trite, I know, but as you say there are a million million tips for how to make a “perfect” roast chicken, and most of them work pretty well. It seems to me less important, then, to worry about whether your method is the best of the best than to find a method that works for you, and invite some friends for dinner. A good roast chicken eaten with good cheer becomes the best roast chicken anyone can remember. My grandmother use to come over for Sunday dinner every week, and my mom would always roast a chicken; every week, without fail, my grandma would tell her that it was the very *best* roast chicken, and we would all agree.
Roasting a chicken is a remarkably accepting process: there’s a wide range for hitting perfection, and the thing to do is to appreciate it with good company and laud it for its merits, whatever method you used to make it.
(that said, my mom swears by Bell’s poultry seasoning-she says the ginger adds a little extra goodness.)
Well said, Hannah. Well said.
I’ve only roasted one chicken, ever, and my nephew ate half of it for dinner so I must have gotten something right! Sure wish I could remember how I did it….. Thinking I may have to give it another try this weekend though!
The trick for me is letting the chicken and butter sit out for a bit to take the chill off. I salt/pepper the inside and put 2-3 garlic cloves, a quartered lemon, a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary, and maybe some of the veggies I’m roasting with it…onion, celery, etc. then I rub non-salted butter all over the skin and season with salt/pepper. I put it in at 450 deg F for 30 min and then drop the temp to 350 for another 1.5 hrs or so, depending on the suze of the bird. I’ve recently started using a temp probe in my oven and it makes it that much easier! It’s a winner every time.
I totally agree, Karen. I think this is a secret with cooking all types of meat- it always helps to let it sit out a bit.
Lisa G. says
I always wash it, and rinse the cavity with some cheap salt, then dry the whole thing. I rub the chicken with olive oil, whatever herbs I’m in the mood for (it’s seasonal, usually – the other day I used thyme and sage) and pepper. Also lots of salt, and lots of either onion powder or garlic powder. I then root around for a brown paper lunch bag, cut out the bottom and trim it a little, and tent it over the bird. If it’s a small bird, it roast it at 350 for a half hour per pound, plus an extra hour. If it’s big, I may put it on 375 for the first hour. The other day I had a 4 pounder, at 375 for a half hour. It was in the oven three hours, total. I know this seems too long, but it’s never dry, just nice. I don’t truss it. In fact, I often put it upside down in the pan – it seems to come out better that way!
Lisa G. says
I don’t know why my name didn’t show up!
Carrie R says
Oh man. I hear this. I was a starter cook at 34 when I moved in with my husband. I did it all- breast up, breast down. Shoving all sorts of stuff into the poor thing, and the massages I gave it were not relaxing for either of us. I once saw on America’s Test Kitchen they did this whole thing about making sure the chicken skin was really dry, so I let it sit now. Then they said to rub butter on the skin and under the skin of the breast. This is supposed to make a crisper skin which is what my step-daughter adores. It seems to work, I guess. Now the part where I have to cut the chicken up after roasting, that is a nightmare. Mangle. I mangle it. Still working on that part.
Ha! I confess, I always make Joey cut up the chicken. I can totally cut up a raw chicken into parts, which I think is harder! But he does the roast chicken carving so much better.
I “cheat” often and “roast” them in the slow cooker. They are super moist and if you don’t bring the bird to the table, no one will know.
All this slow cooker chicken talk is getting me VERY excited. Next method, for sure.
About 30 years ago, my Dad had surgery and my Mom, sisters and I spent several days at the hospital. We came home one evening and one of her friends dropped off a roast chicken. I will never forget standing around my mom’s kitchen island with my sisters while we all picked that chicken clean with our fingers. No silverware, no plates. Bam! we were like vultures. It has been my go to comfort food ever since, when I need it and when my friends need it.
I loved reading this post-you make me laugh. Now I have to go look up the word spatchcock.
oh. I would love a green one. Thanks!
Love this story. 🙂
I get stressed out by all the ‘perfect’ chicken recipes, trussing, basting, not having a roaster with a rack, etc. My go-to recipe has become Melissa Clark’s chicken with lemons, chickpeas, and carrots– stuff the cavity in full to help it cook, use the veg under the chicken as a rack and to catch the great drippings, and rub that puppy with lots of butter and garam masala. It is AMAZING… so much so that when the chicken is gone, the veg and lemon slices are still worth freezing to eat as a lunch later. Your summary above does inspire me to try some other kinds, and I like your helpful primer. Perfect or not, my chicken would look great in the green lodge, I think! Thanks for the post.
I use the same roasting pan I’ve had for a hundred years and the same kind my mother always used. The chicken fits in nice and snug. I keep it simple most of the time. Salt, pepper and basted with butter. Covered, low and slow. I might remove the cover towards the end and crank up the oven so the skin gets that beautiful caramel color. Perfect every time.
I’ve always liked to wash the chicken, pat dry, fill the cavity with lemon, garlic and rosemary. Tress it up and put it on a roasting pan on the rack and fill the bottom of the pan with chicken broth to keep it moist. A little salt and pepper on the skin.
This is also the ONLY recipe I’ve ever completely ruined beyond saving. I come from a long line of cooks, cooks that can turn anything into dinner and where your mom is a phone call away to get you back on track. But this time I had been preparing this chicken with a lot of expectation while having a rare afternoon of nothing to do but watch TV. I got the chicken in my oven and sat down to watch TV when a spider came down from the ceiling on a web string right in front of my face (I think this was an omen, because spiders are about as bad as I can handle). When I got done screaming it was ready for the chicken. It looked nice a golden brown, but some how weird. Something was wrong…I let the chicken cool. I went to start carving the chicken. I realized I had put the chicken in the pan BREAST down. I flip it over and start carving and with all of the goodies I put in the chicken the breast was completely raw. Juices started spilling out and by the time I tried everything imaginable it was ruined. I had drum and a wing for my husband and I each and everything else was jut a ruin.
I slow cook the bird on the grill. I push the coals to both sides of a bread pan so the birds juices can drip into it. I often put a half can of cheap beer in the cavity of the bird.(I know, I’m no gourmet) I love the yeasty taste. And sprinkle whatever herbs are growing near the grill all over the outside of bird. If it’s winter, rosemary sprigs are thrown on top.
LOVE cast iron! A green dutch oven would totally do! Probably not on the grill though.
I have been making biscuits and baking them in a dutch oven with coals from the campfire…And I need a bigger dutch oven to accomodate my growing family. : ) Chicken and biscuits!!!
i rub with olive oil, put rosemary in and outside, and lemons and onions inside as well. Then just bake in the oven! Makes lots of nice broth too!
Lisa M. says
I am still trying to find the perfect pan–though the slow cooker is pretty good. I love roast chicken, makes the house smell so wonderful. I also love Dutch ovens (green). I will try your recipe this week. I know your pick is random, but it would be so cool if I won because the 3rd is my birthday! Have a great week!
I love Ina Garten’s “Jeffrey’s roast chicken” and if I have time, I salt liberally early in the day or day before and refridgerate uncovered, rinse, dry and set on counter until room temperature before roasting.
Oh I love roast chicken!! I was so proud of myself the first time I made it all on my own. It’s one of those things that seems like it would be all fancy and complicated but ISN’T and makes you feel so fabulous when it’s done. I don’t have a fancy, perfect recipe but I almost always slice up some citrus of whatever I have (lemon or orange usually) and slap it on top. Then ‘drizzle’ aka pour olive oil (bc it’s really healthy, right?) on top along with a bunch of salt and pepper. And if I happen to have some fresh rosemary then that definitely goes on/in/around. Oh and I don’t wash it bc well, I figure the heat’ll kill whatever’s on there. And I try to buy organic/local/happy til they were knocked off chickens. (And I just discovered a local meat store on my end of town which is REALLY exciting out here in the ‘burbs). Oh and then I stick it in the oven at 350 bc I bake everything at 350 and let it roast happily while I smile at the idea of roast chicken. And try to think of whatever else to make bc I got all excited about chicken and didn’t plan side dishes. Bake for 45 min-ish and check every so often. Then try not to eat it before it’s cooled enough to not fall apart. And then since it’s just me I can have chicken for like at least 3 days in sandwiches and salads and pieces off the bone.
Also, that blue cast iron is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen today.
PS I love, love, love your blog and your cookbook!
Oh, thank you Elisabeth! And so exciting about the new meat source, too…
Love the post!
I use a local farm for almost all of my meat and the cool thing is that a whole chicken comes in a huge heavy-duty plastic bag. I use that bag to brine the chicken overnight. I’ve gone back and forth on butterflying or not and decided to butterfly from here out. My main problem is that I can’t seem to get the juices to run clear, which may be because its too cold when it goes in the oven.
I’d say- if the juices aren’t running clear, don’t be afraid of overcooking a bit. Maybe it just consistently needs a few more minutes than you’re giving it?
I’ve haven’t found a recipe yet that makes it worth sticking my hand in a raw chicken, so I just buy them already roasted from Costco, but I still freeze the carcasses until it’s time to make stock. Maybe your ultimate recipe will change my mind : ) The green pan is lovely.
Ah- whatever works! I’m sure Costco roasts an excellent chicken, and you’re still getting homemade stock out of the deal. But yes, maybe just the right method will do the trick.
A great way to use preserved lemon pulp! A riff on a recipe by Mart Bittman in the NYT magazine. He takes the four pieces of rind from a lemon, and slips them under the breast meat, and then takes the pulp, chops it up and smears it inside and all over the outside of the bird. Then roast. Fantasic, although I prefer to skip the peels under the skin part…you have to try it! Oh, he also dusts his bird w/ cumin and puts butter and honey on top mid-way through cooking. Also good ideas, but just the lemon pulp inside and out is my favorite.
I do this! The pulp part, I mean. Me and Bittman 🙂
You include Nigel Slater and Laurie Colwin in ANY conversation and I love you! Period!!
I kinda gave up on roasting chickens. I do tons of fresh herbs and the crockpot now. My oven just doesn’t heat evenly to make things work right!
I have to second what Whitney said, THIS is your perfect roast chicken recipe. It’s you. (Also, great post.)
If we win the (holy crap that’s BEAUTIFUL!!!) gift then we’ll roast a chicken, because as I’m thinking back now, I am pretty sure we’ve NEVER done this before.
Wait, we must have, right?
The blue, thanks.
(Sending Dan over to read all of these great ideas. Cumin?! Yes, please.)
Ha! I can already hear my editor saying “um, I think we might ACTUALLY need a recipe here?” But yes, this version is very close to my heart.
Kate @ Snowflake Kitchen says
Cant decide between the blue and green! If I had to… green.
We roast chicken one of two ways: 1) Stuffing italian sausage under the skin. You get a thin crispy layer of skin, a thin layer of sausage and super juicy chicken. Really goo stuff, special occasions though. 2) Otherwise, its lemon/herbs/butter on top. Both, however, are roasted at 400 until browned an then 350 until the thermometer in the breast hits 150. Then I pay attention until done.
Aren’t we all looking for the perfect roast chicken recipe and the outfit that makes us look young and lean! The few times I have roasted a chicken I just put it in the oven with olive oil and herbs and let it be. A good chicken prefers not to be fussed over. Now for my color choice: both are equally nice, but if pushed to choose I’ll say blue. Thanks for the post and giveaway.
Melissa McPheeters says
My family is loving the Melissa Clark approach where you roast the chicken on top of thick slices of stale bread slathered with mustard…just scatter garlic around, pour olive oil over it all and sprinkle very generously with salt…high heat for about an hour. As for colors…Blue! This is a great post, though, and a wonderful reminder to just chill out in the kitchen…after all, it’s about feeding the people we love, right? Not creating perfectly fancy gourmet food?
If you have a few minutes, this is my chicken story, in which I try to roast it without a recipe (and felt much like the beginning of your post, which I loved):
Oh, thanks for sending me over there, Marisa. Love it.
I use the slow cooker, too, ALMOST always.
When I don’t, I use a covered dutch oven and do it on low heat for a very long time…
or not! I’ve also done it in my gigantic cast iron skillet with every root vegetable and it’s always good, even though every time I try I get nervous and do obsessive internet research, trying to find the “perfect” oven temp.
In the end, it doesn’t seem to matter.
I like the green dutch oven, btw…
I do my roast chicken one of two ways. I always cook in the oven at around 450F, because I find that crisps the skin really nicely. And I always use a frying pan instead of a roasting pan, into the oven.
I prepare the bird with a little bit of pepper and a lot of salt on the skin. I don’t add butter or oil to the bird. If I’m going to spatchcock, I’ll do that with my kitchen scissors and cook it flat until it looks nice and done. If I don’t, then I’ll put either lemon or garlic in the cavity (which is best is a subject of debate in my family) and cook the way the Zuni Cafe book recommends, flipping at 25 minutes, then at 10 minutes, then back for another 10-15.
I also always save the carcass – usually with a bit of back and thigh meat still on – for making stock. If I don’t have time the next day I’ll put the carcass in the freezer for when I do.
I know that what I do *shouldn’t* work but it makes a heckuva chicken or a pan of game hens.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
1. Rinse bird.
2. Rough chop an onion, to taste. (You can add potatoes and carrots as well, but I generally prefer the simplicity of these flavors.)
3. Peel three or four cloves of garlic and crush them enough to release the flavor.
4. Cut two lemons in half.
5. Cube up 2-3 tsp of butter, to taste.
6. Put bird in pan and surround with rough cut onions and lemons.
7. Stuff the garlic in the bird.
8. Dot the bird and onions with the cubes of butter.
9. Dust the bird and onions with salt and pepper. (At this point you could dust everything with poultry seasoning or sage or garlic powder or all of them. This is all about what sounds good to you at the moment.)
10. Tent the bird with tinfoil and cook until the meat falls off the bone. I’ve left this alone slowly getting moist and done for two hours.
NB: I know the bird should be dry and tasteless cooking it this way, but the tinfoil keeps in the moisture *and* makes the whole thing act like a slow cooker. You could probably get the same effect with a casserole dish and lid but I’ve not tried that in the oven.
I’ve roasted about a 1000 chickens. And I’ve done it every which way but loose. (Well, even loose.) And I can tell you that, regardless of the method, sometimes the bird comes out perfectly and sometimes it’s just OK. But even an OK roasted chicken is better than a whole lot of other meals you could have had.
While I’m always a sucker for a new-fangled “perfect” roasted chicken recipe, I tend to come back to my standard: a dry skin (dried in the open air of the fridge for 24 h if possible), liberally sprinkled with salt, citrus & herbs in the cavity, legs trussed, started at high heat (450 F) for 15 minutes, then reduced to 350 F to finish. I use a thermometer and consider it done when leg meat hits 165 F. Not surprisingly, I tend to opt for local chickens. Except when I don’t. 🙂
Well said, Kaela. An ok roast chicken makes a pretty great dinner, as far as I’m concerned.
I was trying to explain to my sister that roast chicken is the ultimate Impressive But Easy dinner. I hate how chefs try to intimidate home cooks by creating dogmatic ways to do it, when honestly it’s just meat + heat.
I got comfortable with the concept using this recipe, which has a cool sweet-ish mix of spices: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/simple-whole-roasted-chicken/ . But last time it looks like I did breast side down at 450 for 40 minutes, then breast side up at 425 and checked at 30? With just salt and pepper. This was a 7.45 lb big, cheap supermarket chicken; we had one breast with roasted potatoes for a first dinner, then I pulled the meat off the carcass whilst pretending to be a leopard and froze it in bags of 2 cups each. And chucked the carcass into my stockpot with the contents of my veggie-scraps baggie. (P.S. Anyone who judges me for the supermarketiness of my chicken-buying habits it is welcome to come buy me a nice, local, happy-life chicken, because I cannot afford it. I can barely afford meat, honestly. Which is why a free Dutch oven would explode my head with joy.)
No judgement! I say, go for what works.
Thomas Keller fan here: dry dry dry that bird, put it on a skillet, make it rain kosher salt, and crank up the oven really high. He also insists that you serve it with Dijon mustard…and who am I to question his ways? 🙂
Michael Schneider says
I just tried to ‘Like’ this Comment. I clearly spend too much time on Facebook.
I say we should serve EVERYTHING with Dijon mustard. Keller is right, as always.
I’m always trying new approaches too…
Right now, i flip between the splayed chicken in a cast iron pan (lodge of course) from a Melissa Clark nytimes article, it’s fast but messy and awesome. Or sometimes I roast a whole chicken on a tube pan, which I learned about from Food52, It works great, similar to the beer can method I favor on the grill. Drying the chicken in the fridge, if I can remember, in advance.
The green pot is lovely 🙂
A tube pan? I’m intrigued.
I actually really like this recipe for roast chicken. I have a family, too, like many of us do, and how I roast a chicken depends on where we are in our day, even in our week. Sometimes there’s a brine involved, sometimes not. I never measure, but I usually rinse, pat, and rub with whatever spices smell good at the time. There’s usually a splash of wine, and maybe fresh herbs, if the pots on the patio are doing well. Then, if I have time, I’ll use the oven on low, or maybe even the crockpot, for several hours. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll turn up the oven and cross my fingers it’s done before 7, the absolute latest my family can stand to wait until dinner. My favorite things about a roast chicken are: my home smells amazing while it cooks, after a nourishing and satisfying meal, I can usually salvage enough leftovers for some delicious chicken salad or even avoglemeno soup the next day, and, of course, the amazing homemade chicken stock from the bones. Ultimately, I think roast chicken doesn’t need a recipe, just faith and forgiveness for ourselves, so we can, guilt-free, make a meal for our family and be grateful for the food on our plates.
I love this comment, Jessica. I agree- one of the best things about roast chicken is that it adjusts to our day in whatever way we need it to. It forgives.
Sarah M says
I think i have tried al of the above at some point or another but I do have a favorite roast chicken story. Vegetarian friends stopped by while I had one of ourdelicious CSA birds in the oven. We upped the veggies and offered our apologies. When the time came to fill our plates they went right for all the chickeny goodness and it was one of my prouder kitchen moments!
Jessica M says
I am one of those pobrecitas who berates herself when prepping the chicken: “Why didn’t I do this yesterday and pre-salt?”
I also agree that I loooove the stock that comes from the leftover carcass of the chicken and the “gizzard bits.” When I was growing up, I always wondered at how my father, who grew up quite poor in Mexico City and then only slightly less poor in Los Angeles, used to delight in the chicken neck and and the bones, which we passed down to him when we were finished with them.
My aunts explained to me that my abuela would make chicken for her husband and five children, and not serve herself a portion of the meat. She would nibble on the leftover bones, the neck, whatever bits she gleaned off the rest of the bird. Her plan eventually backfired, though, because the five kiddos wanted to be like their mom, and so the leftover bits became the family delicacy!
Now, when we all get together, it’s a fight to the finish, but my abuela always gets her “favorite” part, the neck, in addition to the heaping portions my tías now always make sure she gets.
Thank you for the chance to reminisce, Alana!
I love this! The chicken neck is so under appreciated, too. But I just love this whole story.
I have one roasting in the oven right now! I wash and dry, dry dry. I cover with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs inside and Out. I then tie it up and put it in a cast iron skillet and roast it at 475 to get it nice and dark. After 20 minutes I cover it and let it cook until done. Perfect every time . Sweet potatoes and spinach salad is what I am serving with it tonight. I would love to try it all in a green Dutch oven!
I always use a no-fail Ina Garten recipe, though I don’t know exactly which one of all the ones mentioned above! Thickish slices of onion to rest the bird on. Kosher salt, pepper, dried thyme on top. Inside = halved lemon, head of garlic with top sliced off, handful of fresh thyme if it’s available from the garden. No butter, no olive oil. 375 for one and a half hours, let it rest for a good 10-15 minutes. At least one breast, usually 1 1/2 saved for burritos all week.
Green, always green!
So many Ina Garten fans here in these comments! I agree- that woman definitely knows her way around a roast chicken.
P.S. It’s definitely time to attempt spatchcocking. Got a good how-to site/explanation?
Roast Chicken, I love it! I prepare mine in a clay oven, have never tried it in a dutch oven. I stuff mine with oranges, garlic and a large onion. I rub a little butter or olive oil on the skin and roast at 350. I take the lid off for the last 15 to 20 minutes to allow the skin to get crisp and golden. Yummy! And the stock you can get from a whole chicken is the best ever. Green would look great in my kitchen.
I usually just bake it in the oven but I use potatoes and veggies for the roasting rack.
I like the blue color. thank you.
EMMA WALTERS says
i think the most important thing is, choose a quality free range bird!! it will always taste beautiful no matter how much/many herbs & seasoning you throw at it! 🙂
Betty G says
My husband is a chef and so of course it changes. If we remember, we brine it. If not then it is a spastic rub with garlic infused butter inside under skin and on skin. Stuff the inner cavity with chunked onion, smashed garlic cloves and sometimes celery. Then roast it trussed on 325 til it temps done, cover in foil and let rest half hour to hour while we make riced potatoes and whatever fresh veggie we have on hand. Yum
Tina W says
I don’t think I have ever cooked two roasted chickens exactly the same. Even when I cook two side-by-side at the same time, plunked down with little ceremony on a commercial-sized sheet pan. Fancy, plain, brined, stuffed… I’ve never had a person say “oh, if only you would have…”. It’s roasted chicken! It’s awesome!
And damn, a Lodge dutch? Are we twins separated at birth? I already have a 6qt in red so if I were to win I would pick green as a birthday gift for my favorite sister. (thank god none of my sisters read food blogs!!!)
Roast chicken in our family is a special occasion. We follow a mostly vegetarian diet so meat is only about once a week. That means roast chicken is had only 3-4 times a year. When I do make it I have to make a couple as the local chickens are smaller than what you buy in the market. I usually take coarse salt, garlic, bay leaves and olive oil and smash it all into a paste with a mortar and pestle and rub all over the chicken esp under the skin. Now I am really hungry for roast chicken and it is on for later in the week…yum.
I love the oven in green.
Bethany ~ Sustainable Food for Thought says
Considering my first roast chicken ever was a delightful triumph/failure (a bird purchased from a conscientious farming friend but way, way to aged for any use beyond stewing…), I’ve never quite recovered from the shame and horror of pulling my stiff as a board, dry as sawdust, old as the hills bird from the oven… But I’m willing to try again. I just need to spring for a younger chicken and perhaps try this new roasting pan of yours – green, pretty please? 🙂
Jenny C says
We usually do the beer can chicken method, either in the oven or on the grill. You can buy a metal holder with a round center piece to hold the can, and then the bird stands up on top. The liquid in the can (beer, or even Coke) keeps the meat moist, and you get the crispiest most fabulous skin. Because, really, what’s better than crispy skin? Great pan juices too.
Love that Dutch oven. And since everything in our kitchen is either blue or green, I’m flexible on color!
I love making roast chicken! I love Lodge cookware so much that I would take a Dutch Oven in ANY color.
Thanks so much,
I like to season some Hellman’s Mayo and rub that all over the dry room temp organic happy (even though it’s dead) chicken =) We really LOVE mayo in my house!
Putting stuff under the skin before roasting is key! This looks great! I haven’t made a good roast chicken in ages. I’ll need to get on it 🙂
That Lodge pan looks so awesome. Green would match all the other stuff in my kitchen 🙂
Brief method – butterfly and roast over a bed of fingerling potatoes & baby carrots in a cast iron skillet.
Longer explanation: This is easy enough for a weeknight dinner. Preheat oven to 450. Toss half a bag of baby carrots and some fingerling potatoes with olive oil and herbs in a cast iron skillet (I use olive oil with rosemary and oregano mixed in the bottle; tastes great and saves me a step). Take your local/organic chicken (being smaller than the frankenchickens from the supermarket helps). Cut out the backbone (toss the backbone in the freezer for next time you make soup). Flatten out and press down on the breastbone until it breaks & the chicken is flatter. pat dry. With meat facing up, sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Let it sit a bit while you mince some garlic (I grate the garlic on a microplane so it’s a paste), then rub the garlic into the meat. Flip over. If you feel like a garlic night, spread some of the garlic paste under the skin. salt & pepper liberally. Place chicken skin side up on top of the veggies. Pour a little of the olive oil and herbs on top, and rub into the skin. Put on the oven about 45 minutes, or until it’s your desired degree of done-ness.
I think your recipe is perfect. It is exactly what roast chicken should be about – damn it all to hell but if it comes out crispy and juicy it’s about the best easy dinner around.
this post made me laugh so hard, I could envision each moment exactly as you described it. It sounded much like I how I feel at the end of a long day trying to cobble something together for dinner.
If I’m planning ahead I’ll rub the whole chicken with equal parts fresh thyme and rock salt then leave uncovered in the fridge over night. Then half a lemon, an onion, and some more thyme go inside before roasting at 350 until done.
Otherwise I’ve been roasting my chickens on top of sliced carrots, potatoes, whole garlic cloves with their skin still on and any other veggies that catch my fancy. I turn the chicken a quarter of a turn every 15-20 minutes and it is heaven. The juices run all over the roast veg, which might actually be my favourite part about this particular way of roasting chicken.
I have been making the barefoot contessa roast chicken from the first cookbook for years and years now. it comes out perfect every time.
Organic, yes. Loca- even better. Happy chicken? best. You can always tell by the eggs they produce- or I like to imagine so. Happy chicken is the best ingredient.
The only other way I know how to make it better is to be happy while roasting. To be present. It is a simple recipe that doesn’t need a lot of flourish. It needs butter, salt and pepper and maybe some herbs from the garden- no problem. If you want to put a lemon up it’s bum, great. If not- no problem. The problem comes from not being present and attentive. Knowing your oven, taking time to prep and cook properly- those are the key points. so: happy chicken + happy person + butter= the best roast chicken I’ve managed to have.
I’m a vegetarian and have never roasted a chicken in my life. If you need help with lentils, just let me know though. I apologize that I don’t have a good story or some tip to share, but I just wanted to let you know that I was laughing so hard while reading your instructions. Particularly number 7! HOT!
Best of luck with creating that master recipe. I look forward to reading it in your new book!
Rachel (De Ma Cuisine) says
I’m still working on this one too. I have two go-to ways, oven and crock pot. Crock pot ends up being more tender and juicy, but you really can’t beat an oven roasted chicken… In the oven, I usually do a simple olive oil, salt, and pepper chicken, with a bit of water in the bottom of the pan, roasting at 375F for an hour and 15 minutes, or until the meat thermometer says it’s done, basting every 30 minutes. I’m not an expert on it, but am learning as I go. 🙂
Hi Alana –
I wash and dry inside and out. Grab some rosemary from the garden and a lemon from the fridge. Stick the rosemary sprigs under the skin on the breast side. Cut up the lemon and stuff it into the cavity with more rosemary (or thyme or sage). Brush the whole thing with melted butter or olive oil and salt it very well. Pepper, too. Roast at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower the temp to 350 and roast till the legs register 165.
Hope this works for you!!
BTW there may be something wrong with my display or something but lately your photos are extremely distorted….any ideas??
Thanks! and enjoy!!
Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas says
I tend to roast chicken pieces rather than a whole bird, just because it takes less time and there is more crispy skin to go around. Last nights dinner was the marylands (drumstick & thigh) rubbed with spice rub and roasted until done.
When I do roast a whole bird, I make a spread of butter, tarragon (fresh in summer, dry in winter – both work just as well), garlic, salt & pepper. Separate the skin over the breast and spoon in the butter. Massage the butter so it is spread all over the breast under the skin. Rub any excess butter over the outside of the chicken and in the cavity. Squeeze half a lemon over the bird. Salt & pepper on the outside of the chicken. Put the sqeezed lemon half & the unsqeezed half, sprigs of rosemary, thyme and smashed cloves of garlic in the cavity. I roast using Nigel Slaters timings in Appetite – 20mins per 500g plus an extra half hour at 200c. Although I always start checking it early cause my oven tends to run hot. I need to invest in a meat thermometer.
Usually I prefer to smoke chicken on the grill, but when time doesn’t allow I rub the chicken with butter and garlic, whatever else sounds good and bake it flipping it every 20 minutes or so.
yum! I always love looking again at the classics.
My method for roasted chicken is to say “Honey, could we have roasted chicken this week?” and then my husband (who is by far the better cook) whips up something fantastic! I would like to add my two cents worth that your recipe include the how to for making stock with the leftover bits.
Thanks again for the wonderful post!
(either color would work)
As a vegetarian, I am afraid I have very few roast chicken stories. I haven’t eaten chicken since my pre-teen years and I have never learned to cook it. Recently, I have started playing around with Quorn chicken cutlets which has allowed me to play around with recipes intended for chicken. I feel like a brand new cook.
I almost always start by brining it… I love the moist meat. After I brine it, I try to have time to let it sit uncovered in the fridge so the skin can dry out. If I’m ambitious, and it’s springtime, when I have new bay leaves on the tree in my garden, I make a paste of garlic, shallot, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and butter and tuck it under the skin– that’s the best. I almost always do two, so we eat one for dinner and then have leftovers for something else later in the week. No trussing. High heat, then low to finish. And always, stock with the bones and nasty bits. Often the need for stock is the driving force behind roasting chicken in the first place.
Amy J. says
How does my family know when I’m roasting a chicken? When the smoke alarm goes off! It’s a bit of a standing joke in our home.
My method has kind of morphed over the years. I used to go back and forth between Ina Garten’s Perfect Roast Chicken and a modified version of Tyler Florence’s Perfect Roast Chicken. Now, after rinsing and patting the chicken dry, I simply sprinkle it with a generous portion of herbes de provence and salt. Then I place it on a rack of whatever vegetables I have on hand (onion, carrots, potatoes) and roast in the oven until the juices run clear. Sometimes I start at 400, then turn it down to 350-375 or other times I’ll cook it the entire time at 375.
That’s it. Very simple and always delicious!
I do the Judy Rogers way, but, you know….sloppier.
Night before: rinse, pat dry and salt (I do about a tablespoon for a 4-5 lb chicken)
Cooking: crank oven up to 450 and put cast iron pan inside to preheat. Take chicken out of fridge and pat dry. Take out pan and try to singe the back of the chicken so that it doesn’t stick…Chicken cooks breast side up for 30 min, breast side down for 15 and then another 15 breast side up again. If I have fingerling potatoes, I rub those with olive oil and salt and roast in the same pan, around the chicken.
So, yes. Chicken and salt and heat. That is all.
This turns out really delicious every time, and makes people think I’m talented 🙂 Therefore this is more or less the only thing I cook for other people!
Thanks for bringing up such a tasty topic. Your roast chicken looks delicious! Also, I think this is the first time I’ve commented on the blog, so I just wanted to mention that I loved your book, Homemade Pantry!
For the longest time, I thought there was incapable of roasting a chicken. Every attempt ended badly. The skin was either burnt or flabby. The meat was either dry or just a touch underdone (even though I used a meat thermometer!) and flavorless. It wasn’t until I bought Maria Speck’s Ancient Grains for Modern Meals that I finally learned how to cook a mouth watering, husband praise worthy chicken. Maria employs many of the steps you mention above in her recipe for Roast Chicken with Orange, Lavender and Thyme. The dry brine makes for the juiciest most flavorful meat while allowing the skin to become shatteringly crisp in the oven. Here is my take on it.
1. Make a seasoning mix by combining 2 tablespoons of salt with aromatics (I usually use lemon and rosemary) in a small bowl, set aside.
3. Prepare the bird for a dry brine. Pat the chicken dry inside and out. Rub the seasoning mix under the skin of the bird to coat the meat of the breast, thighs and legs. Place larger pieces of aromatics (halved lemon and rosemary sprigs) in the cavity of the bird. Place the bird in the roasting pan and set in the fridge uncovered for 8-24hrs.
5. Cook the bird. Take the bird out and allow it to come to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub the outside of the bird with a little bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Roast for 45 minutes or until done.
I mostly follow Marcella Hazan’s Chicken with two lemons recipe. I don’t have to baste it, and it turns out lovely every time. (I actually just posted a tutorial on it on my site. https://lifeandsundry.squarespace.com/food/2013/4/how-to-roast-and-carve-a-chicken ) (:
With as much as people say you can screw up a roast chicken, I think it scares too many people away from the attempt, which is so sad. This method, at least, is dead simple, and you can’t really screw it up.
P.S. Love the blue!
I like to roast chicken with lots of crushed garlic (it caramelizes) on a bed of sliced lemons.
the blue is really nice.
I like to s&p a small chicken and stuff thyme, sage, and rosemary sprigs under the skin the night before I want to eat it. The day of, I dry it off and plop it down in a hot pan, and roast it at a high heat. It makes for a tasty chicken, but the pan drippings, OH! They’re the best part.
Are you ready? This is a story is entitled The Chicken Which Was Not Roasted. If it had a subtitle, it would be this: But Which Aspires to Be at Some Future Important Date.
I always had a meat aversion–I didn’t like to touch or handle raw meat, and this persists until this day. I am quite proud of myself for having the guts (!) and then glory of making chicken broth with a whole chicken, then fishing out, pulling off the meat, and shredding the meat of the chicken. Every time I do that I am in my eighth-grade classroom dissecting frogs and smelling the preserving chemicals. Who knew chicken spines were so…gray?
I have also roasted two turkeys, and they each turned out quite successful–moist and crispy and smelling like Thanksgiving should. But a roast chicken–I suppose I grew up in a home where chickens were only known to me to have breasts, wrapped in plastic and placed neatly on styrofoam trays. I now buy whole birds, but they seem…fancy. Other. Important. I try to buy chicken labeled as not having antibiotics, and that means one chicken is about $12; for me, having previously bought those neatly-wrapped chicken parts, that’s a splurge. (Where I live, buying local chickens is still more expensive, and not at all convenient for me, unfortunately–something I’m still looking into.) I like the idea of it being an everyday, casual elegance, but so far el pollo is only The Chicken for Broth and not The Roast Chicken. So inspire me, show me the way to The Roast Chicken.
Melissa F says
I get the organic brined chicken from Trader Joe’s and rub ghee and olive oil on chicken then add fresh rosemary and lemon juice and stick both up the cavity sprinkle some pepper and paprika and roast on 325 for 1 hour, spoon the juices on top to make the skin nice and crispy then roast for another 30 mins. YUM!!
Be sure to stuff the center with 1/2 onion and 1/2 lemon. Maintains the moisture and adds incredible flavor.
Audrey W. says
I use organic chickens when I can, rub pastured lard on the skin and sprinkle with salt, put breast side down in the pot, cook till done…easy, easy, easy!!!
I buy pastured organic broilers. I stuff them with garlic, apple, and chorizo stuffing and baste them with maple syrup. Yummy every time.
Carolyn G says
I make a simple roast chicken. Salt, pepper, garlic salt and I stuff a lemon and onion in the cavity. I also butter it under the skin and let it show cook for hours. It is delicious.
About six years ago when my children were small, I decided it was time to conquer roast chicken. I love eating roasted chicken but had limited my cooking to mostly vegetarian fare at that point. Raw meat — especially whole bone-y animal — made me nervous. So I decided to overcome my fears and inexperience by roasting a chicken once a week until I had it nailed. I don’t think that lasted very long — not because I succeeded but because I failed so often. First, I under roasted it, which is quite disgusting and threatened to kill my small family. Then I did half-heartedly fine jobs, which resulted in wasted leftovers.
A few years later, I remembered my plan when I stumbled on a new version of the roast chicken recipe. I think it was in the New York Times food section. The new recipe called for air drying the bird for 24 to 48 hours in the fridge, which results in crispy, oh-so-delicious skin.
So that’s my go to recipe. Get the happiest, most muscle-y chicken I can find, and put it on a wire rack over a plate in the fridge, with no cover for a night or two. After brining the bird to room temperature, I smear the best fats I can find all over and salt liberally (kosher salt if I must — chunky sea salt otherwise).
Soon out of the oven, my youngest daughter and I share the perfect skin. That’s the definition of love — sharing your perfectly roasted skin with your 8 year old. And I’ve figured out what to do with leftovers too: chicken and bean enchiladas are happily consumed the next day.
Thanks for the opportunity to share — blue or green would be divine.
Heather Phillips says
I just put my roast chicken in the oven! I wish I had that blue Lodge cast iron pan to cook it in! I make a paste with butter, salt, chopped fresh rosemary and thyme. I sprinkle lots of salt and pepper inside the cavity of the chicken. I rub the butter paste under the skin generously and also rub some all over the outside of the chicken. I stuff the cavity with a lemon that has been pierced several times, and some sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary. I then rub olive oil all over the outside of the chicken and sprinkle a touch more salt on it. I truss the chicken and put it in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes. I then reduce the heat to 375 and cook for about an hour or until juices run clear. Let it rest 15 minutes and then carve and serve. Delicious!
I love Patricia Well’s method in her book “Bistro Cooking”. Wash the bird, rub butter on the skin, and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Place in the over 375(?) and baste every 15 minutes with the pan juices. When bird is does, let rest, then take the pan juices and mix with another four tablespoons ob butter and cook down until syrupy. This is heavenly!
And I like the green one…
Gillian Haas says
My husband likes to first grill chicken on our charcoal grill for just a few minutes so that the skin is a bit crispy & then pop it in the crockpot all day to actually cook it. When he makes it this way, he usually slathers it in a homemade BBQ sauce. The results are a charcoaly, crispy, super tender & lightly sweet bird!
I like both the green and blue! 🙂
I like to spatchcock chicken and grill it under a brick outside. It cooks quickly and every piece is crispy-grilled. If this method is just as easy and tasty I might be bringing my chickens indoors. lol
Alana, now I am sitting at my desk at work DYING for fresh roast chicken with not a one in sight. I should be banned from visiting food websites while pregnant and ravenously starving. This is a serious problem….
Somebody bring this woman a chicken! I’m serious.
I make a rub I learned from my Swiss friends: plop about a half cup of regular yellow mustard in a bowl, stir in all kinds of dry spices. I always use thyme, and Mrs. Dash seasoning, plus whatever else I feel like. Rub the chicken all over with this, then roast, dry except for a little water at the bottom of the pan to keep the drippings from burning, at 325 degrees for as long as needed for the size of the chicken – about 20 minutes per pound. It always turns out wonderfully and the drippings make a well-flavored gravy. Yum.
And I like either color – would just be thrilled to have that pan.
Margot C says
What I like best is a ‘Pollo al Forno con Limone’ which basically just means ‘Roast Chicken with Lemon’.
(a.) I like the way that the lemon cuts the fat of the chicken, and (b.) this recipe was the occasion of my first ever realization that I was a really good cook; I was 12 years old.
I did notice that you omitted this step that was once thought to be essential: ‘Mettete il pollo eviscerato e pulito sopra il fornello per bruciare eventuali piume rimaste, sciacquatelo sotto l’acqua corrente .’
That is to say people used to take their chicken and hold it over the open flame of a burner on the stove to singe off the remaining feathers before rinsing it off. Given that the best chicken that I can currently source is kosher chicken I wouldn’t be entirely ill-advised to do this. As it stands I have substituted a vexing ritual involving needle-nosed pliers that genuinely gives me pause whenever I consider making roast chicken (which is pretty much every single week of my life). I can remember my Nanny, Tina, doing this when I was a child in New Orleans. I can also remember riding on the streetcar and then a bus with her to buy live chickens that were sold from wooden crates in some open-air market that I can not now identify. Interestingly, I have ruthlessly suppressed any chicken beheading trauma that I might have experienced on these field trips.
By the time I was 12 Tina was gone, and though my mother was an awe inspiring and spectacular cook (who even taught cooking class at our church) she was also intermittently otherwise engaged. So, I learned to make some basic stuff. This being New Orleans the most important basic stuff being rice, shrimp sandwiches or french toast. My brothers and I had french toast for dinner more than once that year.
Feeling intrepid one day I simply opened a book, read the recipe, shopped (at the Piggly Wiggly), foraged in the herb garden and made this dish. I have never been praised so lavishly and so genuinely by my brothers as I was that day, probably before or since. Maybe they were just really hungry, but it was life altering nonetheless. The book I consulted is lost to the sands of time, but I distinctly recall the slightly lurid 1950s photography as a very useful guide.
Unlike the basic recipe that I linked below this book suggested that I make a mixture of olive oil and room temperature butter and reach under the chicken skin to massage it in then layer thin slices of lemon right against the flesh and under the skin in a fish scale pattern. The herbs (and a small onion) go inside the cavity. No binding, sewing or toothpick wrangling is required and to this day I never bother with that. More oil/butter is massaged on the outside and a fetching herb scattering here and there, followed by a roasting first in a blazing 425 oven for 20 minutes; then in a pokey 325 for the remainder and pronto!
I still make this rather often and people oww and ahh over it because the fish scale thing is really pretty cool looking once the skin becomes crackly brown and crispily translucent over it.
If I don’t feel equal to this level of chicken dedication I simply slather a well-washed salted/peppered well rested and dry bird with the butter/olive oil mixture and dust it with Old Bay Seasoning. This is after the plucking with pliers thing mind you. The Old Bay Bird is a perennial favorite around here too. I think it’s the celery salt.
This one, that is pretty great, recommends making an aromatic salt of lemon zest, salt, rosemary and garlic which is also pretty awesome:
dawn mcbeth says
Our market is having spring chickens this friday, I could demonstrate cooking a spatchcock chicken in my new chicken roasting pan!! right!!
We take a very minimalist approach to roasted chicken in our house: Get the best, preferably local, chicken you can find. Preheat the oven to 450. Give the outside of the chicken a very light rub with either melted butter (delicious) or olive oil (healthier; also delicious), and season inside and out with kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper. If you like, toss half of a lemon into the cavity. Roast at 450 for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 400 for 15 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 350 and roast until the juices run clear from the thigh. (Usually another 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken.) Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.
We have a convection oven, and it makes the most amazing chicken – even if you skip the butter/oil rub, you get a beautiful, crispy skin.
Thanks for the giveaway! Both colors are lovely, but I like the blue just a little bit more.
I’m sure I can’t win since I’m from Canada (though, since you asked, I’ll take the blue!), but I just had to comment because this is the BEST.POST.EVER!! Hilarious!
I read your post and the comments with much interest. I have never roasted a chicken. I can make bread, I can make lasagna, there is currently a pork roast in the slow cooker but somehow roasting a chicken intimidates me. I think this might be the week to face my fears and try it out. If all else fails, I am out of chicken stock so I can use it for that!
Nicole H says
I do very basic little butter little kosher salt and black pepper
I really like using the leftovers for soup
I don’t know if it’s the idea of roast chicken or the idea of a blue lodge dutch oven, but you have hit a chord.
I learned to cook at a living history museum, over an open fire in cast iron. Before I worked there I could only make a bagel (untoasted) with cream cheese and tomato slices. That right there is blue dutch-oven worthy.
For years I was a vegetarian who made “the best” roast chicken. I’m not anymore, but still find roast chicken one of the easiest suppers that is sure to please all 5 of my picky eaters.
The best chicken I can find, but a big one, 5lbs please, there are several of us. I often do two, but the second one is reserved for leftover meals — no eating all the white meat and leaving all the dark. I wash and dry it, inside and out. I never think of it in time to salt or brine it. Into the cavity goes a toss of kosher salt (probably 1 tsp but I never measure), about half as much of fresh ground pepper, a couple of raw garlic cloves, and half a lemon, unless I don’t think I’ll use the other half in which case a whole lemon, but cut in half.
I always roast in a baking dish, like pyrex or corning ware, I don’t know why, and never use a rack though I have one. I drizzle olive oil over, but don’t rub it in because I hate the feel of it on my hands. Then the sprinkling — salt and pepper, garlic powder, dried herbs because roasting is for winter, and usually thyme, rosemary and/or oregano because we are Not So Much for sage here.
350* oven for 25min/lb. I never seem to have a working thermometer of any sort, so doneness is judged by wiggly legs and then cutting into the gap between the leg and body to look for clear juices.
Root vegetables around the bird sound lovely, but will not be eaten by the Children, so I’ve never managed to perfect them. Nor will gravy or pan juices. The entire carcass, including the cavity lemons and garlic, go to stock.
Must be served with mashed white potatoes, cranberry sauce (the jellied kind out of a can – those kids again) and preferably a baked butternut squash. Then everyone’s happy.
Hmmm. I’m a vegetarian but would love to win this pot!!
So i will share the perfect potato side for your chicken 😉
Buy the little new red potatoes, and boil until tender but a little firm still.
Drain and pat dry. Oil a square casserole and put in potatoes, use your palm to just “crack” the skin and lightly squash. Sprinkle with fine minced rosemary, sea salt and black pepper, drizzle with olive oil and put in 400degree oven for 20-30min until the skin is crispy.
Crispy, salty, fluffy potato goodness.
Alice Waters – The Art of Simple Food – her roast chicken. Perfect. Every. Single. Time.
This roast chicken comes out perfect every time.