I have been roasting whole chickens for over a decade now. At one point I was into a Jamie Oliver recipe where you made a prosciutto herb butter and stuffed it under the skin. That was pretty darn good but a bit time consuming and frankly not any better than a simple roast chicken. I’m going to show you a very basic recipe that hones in on the essential elements of a perfect roast chicken dinner: juicy meat, crispy skin and delicious fat soaked vegetables as your sides.
Honestly, I salivate while just thinking about it.
So here is what you will need . . .
In a perfect world you have all the elements for a mirepoix in your fridge. The classic base for sauces is also a magnificent bed for roasting a chicken. Over the years I have favored to cut the vegetables into chunks. Ultimately I simply use whatever is available to me. There have even been times where I have forgone my go to cast iron skillet and just went with a bed of sliced onions.
I went heavy with the olive oil here too. I have to say, All Clad’s stainless steel line does make for a good roasting pan as well and you can make a very nice pan sauce in these kinds of pans. But you will have to clean that pan. My go to pan is a cast iron for a simple roast chicken dinner. It does a perfect job of roasting the bird and the vegetables and cleans up easy with a couples wipes of paper towels.
I have come across Julia Child’s recipe for roast chicken which calls for a pan to be just a bit larger than the bird. This is usually the case for me. I find that when making a simple roast chicken, you should splurge for an organic bird, which usually run around 3.5-4 lbs and cook in about an hour. This chicken was a big bird, weighing in at 6lbs(what you feeding ’em Marys Organic?) and took about an hour and 15 minutes or so to cook.
And that bird came out golden. So this is how you do it:
Pull the chicken out of the fridge an hour before you plan on cooking it. Dry the bird with paper towels. After it seems fairly dry you can choose to truss the bird. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It makes for a better look when you place the bird on a carving board. If you choose to truss, use this method: Crisscross Apple Sauce
Cut whatever vegetables you have for the mirepoix and layer in the cast iron pan(or whatever oven safe pan you choose) drizzle olive oil over the top and season with salt and pepper, mix so that the seasoning is nice and even.
Toss the quartered potatoes in a mixing bowl in some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange them around the edges of the pan. Sometimes I just season and oil the potatoes in the pan if I don’t feel like cleaning up another bowl
Preset your oven to 425 degrees or 400 if you have a convection oven.
Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper inside and out and let it sit for at least 30 minutes but not longer than hour because #bacteria. Place the chicken on top of the mirepoix. Insert the sliced apple in the cavity of the chicken and insert a roasting probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast or thigh. Drizzle a little olive oil over the bird over the potatoes.
Place the chicken in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, reduce the oven to 375 degrees or 35o if you have convection.
About 40 minutes through, rotate the pan 180 degrees in the oven. This will promote even browning because whatever side of the chicken faces the back of the oven browns faster because its hotter back there
The chicken will be done when the temp hits 160 degrees for the breast or 165 for the thigh. Each thermometer brand runs higher or lower numbers but that’s a good range. If you’re worried about under done chicken shoot for 170 for breast, 175 for thigh. Some recipes say pull it at 155 for breast. I go for 163 in the breast. 160 if the bird is less than 3.5lbs. FWIW the USDA recommends cooking poultry to 165 degrees. Keep in mind that meat continues to cook after it leaves the heat source
Remove the bird and let her rest on the cutting board. Check the vegetables. If the potatoes need more cooking(they should be tender when pierced by a fork) throw the pan back in the oven for 10-15 minutes. I do it just to caramelize the veggies.
When the veggies are to your liking you can choose to make the pan sauce or you can start carving the bird and making plates. Remember to remove the apple and the truss should have gone that route.
If you choose to make sauce, remove the potatoes from the pan and set aside. Put the veggies in a separate bowl, pour a glass of white wine in the bowl and strain the wine into the pan you roasted the chicken in. Crank the heat and when it starts to bubble, whisk the pan to remove the fond(the brown bits at the bottom of the pan) and reduce to about half. Pour the jus off into a serving bowl and you are ready to eat like a king.
And that is my go to for a simple roast chicken dinner. I’m a steak guy and this meal is so good it qualifies as one I would have for my last supper. Enjoy!