Roasting is one of the most delicious ways to cook chicken. It’s also one of the easiest. Add in the fact that a whole chicken is one of the cheapest ways to buy chicken and you’ve got a yummy, simple, and economical meal. Chickens seem to get larger and larger, but a chicken between 3 and 4 lbs is a nice size for roasting. There are all sorts of options for rubs, but I find that I always have herbs on the verge of being past their peak in my refrigerator that work great combined with a little olive oil or softened butter. When planning your meals for the week, remember that it is just as easy to roast two chickens as it is to roast one and any leftovers can be reheated for another dinner or lunch. Shredded chicken can be used for chicken salad, baked chicken dishes, soups, fillings for tacos, and anything else that requires cooked chicken. I shredded our leftover chicken and made a refreshing chicken salad with tangy dried cherries for Sunday lunch.
Simple Roasted Chicken
1 Whole chicken (3-4 lbs)
Fresh herbs (whatever you have on hand)
Olive oil or Butter (softened)
Salt and Pepper
1 Lemon, halved
To start, make sure chicken is completely thawed. Often times the chicken bought at the grocery store is still partially frozen and if this is the case, it’s important to allow the chicken to defrost completely in the refrigerator. Once thawed, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put a rack in the center of the oven. Next, remove the chicken from its packaging and remove any giblets that have been stuffed inside. Rinse the bird with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Trim the chicken of any large pieces of fat and skin that may be hanging off the chicken. I also like to trim off the wing tips at this time. Once trimmed, set the chicken aside.
Chop up fresh herbs (I used sage, parsley, thyme and rosemary) and combine with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (a healthier choice than butter). Use your hands to rub the herb olive oil all over the chicken including under the skin. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Stuff the halved lemon into the chicken’s cavity. To keep the lemon juices inside the chicken, use toothpicks to close up the cavity. The lemon will cook and release its juices while cooking infusing the chicken with a nice lemon flavor.
Tie the legs together with a piece of kitchen twine to keep them in place while cooking. Trussing is optional, but it does help the chicken keep its shape while it cooks.
Place chicken on a roasting pan breast side down and cook for 30 minutes. At the end of 30 minutes, flip the chicken, so the breast side is up, and cook for another 30 minutes. At this point, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and cook for 20 more minutes. Remove from the oven and check to see if the chicken has reached 165 degrees. If it has, remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for at least ten minutes.* If you plan on making a pan sauce or gravy with the drippings, now is the time to do it. Carve and enjoy!
*Resting meat after it has cooked is one of those things that I never gave much thought to before culinary school. It seemed like a trivial step that just delayed eating and I often ignored it. However, I’ve learned that letting your meat rest allows the juices to redistribute making for a far juicier piece of meat than if you start carving immediately.