Roast chicken is one of the best one “pot” meals. It’s a meal you can pop in the oven when you get home from work, take a shower, pull on your favorite jeans and comfy sweater, pour yourself a glass of wine, and dinner’s ready. “Pot” is in quotes because you really don’t want to put it in a soup pot. The sides are too deep in a pot and the chicken ends up steaming in its own juices and it won’t crisp up or turn that beautiful deep golden brown. Using a dish with shorter sides like a casserole dish will let the air circulate around the chicken as it roasts and you will love the results.
If you’re worried about a dry bird, brining is not only for turkeys. A roast chicken that’s been brined is divine. It takes a little more time and fore thought, but it makes every bite succulent. Here’s an easy ratio for brine:
Basic Brine = 4 Tablespoons Kosher Salt + 4 Cups Water
To that, you can add all sorts of things like peppercorns, anise pods, orange wedges, cinnamon, sugar, soy sauce, onions, celery and the like. Honestly, the aromatics will make your kitchen smell amazing, but they won’t do much for your bird. And for heaven’s sake, do NOT use iodine table salt! Yuck! I did that once. It was so salty our faces turned inside out.
A 4-5 pound chicken can brine up to 8-12 hours so you can brine it while at work. Then dry it off, set it on top of the vegetables (carrots, celery, small potatoes, fennel are a few of my favorites), and into the oven it goes. I’ve brined a chicken for only 45 minutes and it was juicier than ones that hadn’t been brined at all.
All that aside, roasting is EASY! The hardest part is knowing how long to keep the bird in the oven. Here’s an easy formula:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put chicken (with or without vegetables) in for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 and roast for 20 minutes per pound. Take the chicken out, check the temperature, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Don’t forget to check the internal temperature at the thickest part of the thigh and it should read 165 degrees. Letting it rest is so important (this goes for all meats). If you want to get your “geek” on, The Food Lab does an excellent job explaining why meat is so much more tasty and juicy after it rests.
Golden Roast Chicken
- 1 whole chicken 4-5 pounds
- 4 tablespoons butter room temperature
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 1/2 chopped mixed fresh herbs parsley, sage, and thyme is a nice blend
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon cut in half
- 5 large sprigs of parsley
- 12-18 inches of kitchen twine
- 4-6 medium carrots washed and tops trimmed off.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and discard the towels.
- Mix the butter, salt and chopped herbs together. Breast side up, gently separate the skin from the breast and rub the paste in between careful not to remove the skin entirely.
- Coat the outside of the bird with olive oil.
- Put the lemon and parsley sprigs into the cavity and tie the legs together with the twine.
- Lay the whole carrots in the bottom of a roasting pan and place the chicken breast side up on top of the carrots.
- Roast (or bake) the chicken for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. At the thickest part of the thigh, the thermometer should read 165 degrees when done and the juices should run clear.
Serve the roasted carrots with the chicken along with a side of wild rice or cous cous and a small Parmesan Garlic salad. Enjoy!