In my opinion there is no more useful cooking skill then the ability to roast a delicious and juicy chicken. It’s a healthy choice and the go-to protein for many a weekday evening in my house. And with a little discipline, it can last for two eaters for three meals. The first night: roasted dark meat, ie, the legs. Second night: maybe chicken salad made from the breast*? The remainder forms the basis for a nice chicken-and-vegetable soup. (*Today’s trivia question, answered: a single chicken has 1 breast, not 2.)
Everybody has their own way for roasting a chicken. For my recipe, all you need, besides the chicken, is salt and pepper, and a little butcher twine—minimal enough for you? Here’s a perfectly roasted chicken:
Your organic, free-range, poetry-read, sunblock-protected, and otherwise ethically-correct chicken—now slaughtered—should be at room temperature. So take it out of the fridge about an hour before you start.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Starting the roast with high temperature ensures a beautifully brown and crispy skin in the end.
Prepare your chicken by removing the wishbone and clipping the ends of the wings. How do you remove a wishbone, you might ask? It’s easy to do yet complicated to describe (as is so much in life, no?). I will post a little video on chicken-wishbone removal in the near future. Getting rid of the wing tips ensures that they won’t burn in the oven.
Salt and pepper comes next. Be generous with the salt, outside and in.
Now truss (ie, twine-tie) the chicken. In the end the chicken should look like a tight wonderful little package, just like in the photo. The reason for trussing, I believe, is that it ensures a more even cooking. And it just makes it look more beautiful when it comes out of the oven—a good pose, if you will. Full disclosure: there is some debate around trussing; some believe the resulting chicken is better without it. I am outing myself here as a traditionalist: truss!
Next, our bird goes into your roasting pan—no oil, no butter. I guess a rub with butter could be nice, but not for us health-conscious eaters (please, don’t tell me what I’m missing). As a detail-oriented observer you will note the potatoes in the picture. Yes, I threw a few spuds into the pan as well. Why not create wonderful roasted potatoes on the fly, soaking up all those delicious chicken drippings. Not to worries, just salt and pepper the potato chunks and add after the chicken has roasted for about 20 minutes. If you add right at the beginning they will burn.
And now, our naked bird faces the heat. Roast at high temperature for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken shows a very nice and almost-done brown skin color. Once this is achieved, we turn the oven down to 350 degrees to finish. If your oven heats unevenly, now is a good time to turn the roasting pan.
I take the chicken out when the temperature inside the thickest part shows 150 to 155 degrees—this based on poking the thermometer into the breast, near the thigh.
Out of the oven she comes. Cover with tin foil and let rest for about 15 min. The temperature at that point should be at near a perfect 160 degrees.