Once upon a time I was intimidated by the idea of cooking a whole chicken. It seemed like a daunting task requiring a day’s commitment and the skills of a butcher. But now that I’ve roasted a few stellar chickens, I’m here to tell you the truth.
Roasting a chicken is seriously easier than baking cookies. It’s also more rewarding. You’ll be spending most of the hour-and-a-half commitment sipping wine and savoring the smells wafting from your oven. And once you roast your own chicken, you’ll never again want to buy some flavor-injected, grocery-store rotisserie chicken. My homemade version is healthier, and tastier.
The key to serving a praise-worthy roasted chicken to your family or friends is actually not determined by your culinary skills. A chicken’s nourishing flavor and satisfying juiciness is all dependent on the bird you buy (but no reason not to let your guests think the opposite!). A few simple tips to finding the perfect chicken: buy local, do pay extra for organic and free-range, and avoid those huge chickens pumped up with antibiotics.
And fear not the dark side. Dark meat is actually more nutritious than white—that’s where all the vitamins and minerals are hiding out.
Serve with a salad of spring greens, radish, walnuts and crumbled goat cheese and you’ve got a meal to remember.
Simply Roast Chicken
Yield: 4-6 servings
- 1 3-4 pound whole chicken (preferably organic, free-range)
- 3 lemon wedges
- 1 sprig parsley
- 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 sprigs sage
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- Meat thermometer recommended
- Kitchen twine optional
Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with foil.
Unwrap chicken, remove bag of innards. Rinse and pat dry inside and out with a paper towel.
Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemon wedges, garlic cloves and one sprig each of parsley, sage and thyme.
Create the rub by finely mincing a couple of sage leaves and a sprig of thyme and combining in a bowl with the canola oil, salt and pepper.
Cover the chicken on all sides with the rub and place breast-side-up on the roasting pan. I like to truss my chicken because it’s fun and ensures even cooking, but I’ve found this isn’t required if you’re short on time.
Roast at 450 F for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes dependent on the size. Keep the oven door closed the entire time. No basting is needed. Remove chicken from oven and use a meat thermometer to check that the thickest part of the breast has reached a temperature of 165 F.
Allow the chicken to cool for 10 minutes then place on a cutting board and use a knife to section into parts. Serve immediately.
Elyse Kopecky is a social media and digital technology consultant based in Portland, OR. After 10 years working for NIKE and EA SPORTS in Portland, Amsterdam and Geneva she briefly left her desk job for the chance to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at freshabits.com and @freshabits.