Roast Chicken Recipe
Why would a little old bird seem so intimidating to me? Maybe because the little clucker has inspired more failed recipe attempts for me than any other recipe I’ve tried to master.
Am I alone here?
Roast chicken is supposed to be easy. It’s not like you need new technology or fancy schmancy ingredients. It’s one of the basics and cooks have been roasting birds for, like, forever.
I’ve attempted various roast chicken recipes, most of which turned out a bird that was undercooked with juices that were far from running clear and which on the next go ’round resulted in cooking too long for a dry, sinewy meat that nobody in the family enjoyed.
My roast chicken attempts were actually becoming a family joke that I found no humor in.
But after cooking a lot of whole chickens, I figured out the secrets, and that’s why I’m sharing them now.
Tips for Juicy Roast Chicken
I’ve discovered a few tips along the way that create a juicy, tender and superbly flavored chicken that’s good enough to serve for Sunday supper or easy enough for a quick weeknight dinner.
Here’s a quick run down that are explained further below:
What’s the best roast chicken temperature for cooking? My answer: 425°F.
Do you cook the whole chicken covered or uncovered? My answer: Uncovered —unless is begins to brown too much, then tent with foil.
How long will it take to roast chicken? My answer: A 5 lb. chicken will take between 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours plus resting time.
How do you tell when a roast chicken is done? My answer: See tip #5 below.
1. Season generously. Most grocery store rotisserie chickens taste good because the basic chicken meat has been pumped with salt or other brining devices. I’m not a big fan of the Arnold Schwarzenegger “Pump You Up” method, but I do believe in generously seasoning the bird inside and out with a hearty dose of kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
If table salt is all you have on hand, use a little less since processed salt has more iodine and will result in a slightly bitter or metallic flavor.
Don’t think you have to limit yourself to the seasoning basics. Think about trying herbs and spices to create flavorful variations to give your clucker a unique flavor, like:
chopped fresh or dried oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and tarragon
Course Main Course
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
resting time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Calories 140 kcal
1 5 pound whole chicken at room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 carrots cut into 2-inch lengths
1 yellow, red, or bunch of Mexican onions quartered
1 head of garlic cut in half
2 lemons quartered
4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
1 bunch of fresh thyme sprigs
Preheat the oven to 425° and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
Remove the giblets and the neck and pat the chicken dry inside and out. Generously season the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. Gently work your fingers under the skin and rub half of the butter mixture on the chicken breasts and the rest over the outside of the chicken. Season with more salt and pepper.
Stuff the chicken with ½ head of garlic, 1/2 of the onion, a few carrots, 1/2 lemon and thyme sprigs. Truss the legs with cooking twine and tuck the wings under the bird.
Arrange the remaining vegetables on the bottom of the roasting pan and set the chicken breast-side-up on top of vegetables in roasting pan.
Roast the chicken for 45 minutes. Baste with the pan juices and rotate the chicken in the oven. Cook for another 30-45 minutes, or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the inner thigh registers 155° to 160° and the juices are running clear.
Transfer the bird to a cutting board and tent with foil. Remove the vegetables from the roasting pan and serve or discard. Serve the chicken hot, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
If you wish for more drippings, add 1 cup of water, chicken broth, or wine to the bottom of the pan before you roast the chicken.