A few years ago, if you put a whole raw chicken in front of me I would have freeeeeaked out. Today? I think roasting a chicken is the most fun way to spend a Saturday or Sunday. I still make some girly noises and scrunch my face up if I have to pull the giblets or neck out, but once I get past that point, it’s all good.
I’m going to start with how to cook a chicken and my recipe for it. In a couple days, there’s going to be post on all the beautiful ways you can use the leftovers. I was in Whole Foods and organic free range chickens were on sale. I got a 4.75lb bird for $7.17. This literally can feed my husband and I for days. I’m used to buying 3 boneless, skinless breasts in a pack for the same price. So first lesson is, if it’s on sale, get it. I changed my entire shopping list for the week when I found this beauty.
Let’s cut to the chase, here is how I cooked my chicken.
- 4-5lb chicken
- 3 tsp salt, divided
- 2 tsp pepper, divided
- 1 tsp lemon pepper
- 2 tsp dried rosemary, divided
- 2 tsp dried thyme, divided
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 3 russet potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
- 3 carrots, thickly sliced
- 3 celery stalks, thickly sliced
- 1 white onion, divided
- 8 garlic cloves, divided
- 1 lemon
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- Remove giblets and neck if needed and place the chicken in a large bowl or pan. In a small bowl combine 2 tsp of the salt, 1 tsp of the pepper, lemon pepper, 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme and dried parsley. Rub over the entire chicken, bottom and top, covering as evenly as possible. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour up to 4 hours to let it dry brine.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large roasting pan or dish, combine chopped potatoes, carrots, celery, and half of the white onion, which should be thickly sliced. Mince 3 garlic cloves and mix into the veggies. Season with 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp dried rosemary and 1/2 tsp dried thyme.
- Depending on the size and what can fit, stuff the chicken with the last half of the white onion, 5 crushed garlic cloves, half a lemon, fresh rosemary and thyme. If space is tight, cut the onion and lemon into quarters. If you can’t fit everything, it’s OK, but try to get a little of each in.
- Place the chicken directly on top of the veggies, so it’s not touching the bottom of the pan. You could also use a roasting pan with a rack if you have one. Use the last half of the lemon to squeeze over the entire dish. Tie the legs together with cooking twine and tuck the wings under the body.
- Cook for 1 hour, until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165 degrees. If it’s not done in an hour, keep roasting in 10 minute intervals until it’s up to the right tempature.
- Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving so you don’t lose all the juice. Stir the veggies around to coat them in the pan juices. Carve the chicken by removing the legs and separating the drumstick from the thigh. Remove the wings next. Cut vertically against the bone in the center to remove the breasts. Serve along side the roasted vegetables.
I can’t think of another meal more comforting than a roast chicken with vegetables. It’s also a meal that everyone makes a little differently. There’s millions of ways to do it, everyone has a “secret” to making it delicious, but my approach is simple, classic flavors.
I prefer a dry brine over a wet brine simply because it’s easier. If you have the time to wet brine, go for it. I did my thanksgiving turkey in salt water, beer and other spices and it was lovely, but for everyday cooking, a dry brine does the trick.
Some people like to use butter to achieve a crispy skin. If you coat the chicken well with the spices, you really don’t need it. With the addition of the lemon squeezed over it right before cooking, the skin came out beautifully browned and crispy.
Keeping the seasoning consistent between the chicken and vegetables make for a harmonious dinner. My favorite part is moving the chicken to the cutting board and then mixing all the veggies with the pan juice that was created. They become so delicious, I acutually ate the leftovers for lunch the next day, without any chicken. It was great on it’s own, with a tiny dollop of sour cream on top. Here’s a photo of the vegetables before roasting, totally gorgeous.
Like I said earlier, in a few days I’m going to be posting about all the possibilities of leftover roast chicken. This is a great recipe to do on a Sunday to have leftovers for the rest of the week. Also, in keeping the seasonings fairly traditional, it makes it easy to use again in a number of different dishes.
Roasting a whole chicken takes time and some work. You also have to be willing to get your hands dirty (I always keep hand sanitizer within reach) but it’s so worth it. It can be scary, especially when that naked, raw bird comes out of the plastic, but with some practice, it becomes easy breezy. And soon my next post will show you how putting in the work on the weekend will benefit your week ahead!