The Best Way to Eat a Chicken: Roast it!

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I don’t think I love to eat anything more than a juicy, flavorful, roast chicken. It really is at the top of my favorite foods list. I have seen and tried numerous ways of roasting a chicken, and personally, I think that simple is best. There is no need to cut the bird apart and then tie it back up (no offense to professional chefs, but I have yet to find where that actually improves the roasting process or flavor of the chicken), and there is no need to stuff it with a hundred herbs and vegetables. I used to make these elaborate roast chickens that, while they were delicious, they were way more trouble than they should have been, and ultimately didn’t make me say, “I HAVE TO MAKE THAT AGAIN!” In fact they left me too tired to eat them.

What I’m really saying is, all you need is a chicken, a pan and an oven. Ok, ok, maybe a few more items, but really, just a few. But honestly, don’t overthink a roast chicken!

I make a roast chicken a couple of times a month because it’s easy, so yummy, and will go with just about anything, although I prefer a starch and a green vegetable, or roasted root veggies. As far as what I put on it, I’ve reduced the herbs from everything I can find fresh to simply rosemary, and on occasion, herbs de provence. I still use butter (aka Smart Balance) and olive oil as well as onion and garlic. I used to add lemon to my chickens, but I realized the zesty flavor it adds really isn’t necessary. But if you’re a lemon advocate, feel free to add lemon.

My neighbor has a huge rosemary bush and she told me I’m welcome to pick as much as I’d like. However, I always feel like a vandal when I go to trim some rosemary! I don’t know why, I mean she told me to trim some whenever I wanted, but it’s still a little unnerving to me. I do pull myself together eventually and trim some, but honestly I feel like I’m stealing. I really do just need to plant my own rosemary, but until then, I’ll continue to borrow from my neighbor whenever I build up the nerves. The bush smells incredible and the stems are so flavorful, you really can’t beat fresh off the plant rosemary.

I find that the longer the chicken cooks in the juices, the more tender and fall off the bone it becomes. It’s so easy to dry out chicken–according to my mom and sister–but I have yet to dry one out…I’m going to go knock on some wood right now so it doesn’t happen haha. I have however, bought chickens that don’t release much juice into the pan, so to combat that (because really, you don’t know what your chicken is going to do when it cooks), I do use quite a bit of butter and olive oil so that there is some guaranteed moisture around the chicken.

I also start my chicken on really high heat (450-475ºF) and gradually lower the temperature as it cooks. I think this helps to squeeze out some of the juices and also crisps the skin up better. I do baste the chicken every time I lower the temperature to keep it moist. When it’s done, there should be an even golden color of crisp skin all over the chicken.

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Roasted Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 whole roasting chicken
  • 1/2 of a large onion, quartered
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, halved
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. herbs de provence (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 450ºF. Wash and dry your whole chicken, removing any innards and cutting off long necks that sometimes don’t get removed. Also remove any feathers that got left on the skin.
  2. Place whole chicken breast-up in a 9×13″ deep baking pan or a dutch oven. Stuff the chicken with the onions, garlic, and 2 sprigs of rosemary. Place the other 2 rosemary sprigs on either side of the chicken.
  3. In a bowl or cup, mix the melted butter, olive oil, herbs de provence, and 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Slice the skin away from the muscle on the breast of the chicken and make slits in the skin on each leg. Spoon a tablespoon of the butter mixture into each leg slit and then 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture into the chicken breast slits. Pour remaining mixture over entire chicken making sure that the entire bird is coated.
  5. Bake at 450ºF for approximately 25 minutes. Then baste the chicken and reduce heat to 400ºF. Cook for 30 minutes, baste and reduce heat to 350ºF and cook for another 30 minutes. Continue basting every 30 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked: at least 165ºF internal temp. (I usually cook mine for 2 1/4-3 hours depending on the size of the chicken. Also, the longer it cooks, the more tender it becomes.) The skin should be an even golden brown color and crispy to the touch.
  6. Once your chicken is done, remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before carving. If so desired, you can pour out some of the juices to make it easier for serving. Enjoy!

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