Good Old Fashioned Roast Chicken
I absolutely adore roasted chicken. The teasing aromas that waft from the oven, torturing me for that last hour before dinner time. The formal ritual of carving the bird. Look at that crispy golden skin! Plating it with my favorite sidekicks – steamed peas and garlic mashed potatoes. Sitting down to enjoy it with my family. Ahhhhhh. This humble, commonplace bird can be elevated to elegance in countless ways. And the best part? The leftovers! Yeah, I said it. Leftovers. You think I’m nuts. Not the first time that has been suggested, but hear me out. For less than $10.00 you get several meals for your family, and they don’t have to be the same meals. On day two you can pick the remaining meat off the carcass and use that meat for other meals, such as chicken salad, soups, tacos, casseroles, chicken croquettes. See? And then the real magic happens. You can make your own chicken stock. No more paying good money for something you can make yourself. And, you can freeze that stock in easy to use portions. I guarantee you will use it up waaaaay before it comes close to going bad. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s just start with roasting the chicken.
The Stuff You Need:
1 Roaster Chicken (about 6 or 7 pounds)
Herbs for seasoning: I like parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Paprika; just a shake or two for color
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional flavor boosters to stuff in the cavity: leek tops, raw garlic, half a lemon, a bundle of fresh herbs. Use one favorite or any combination of these.
A few carrots or celery stalks if not roasting on a rack.
How To Do This:
- Take the chicken out of it’s wrapper and rinse it out under cool running water. If there’s a packet of innards in there, take that out now.*
- Place the chicken breast side up in the roasting pan and pat dry with paper towel.**
- Drizzle the oil over the chicken skin and rub it all around the outside of the bird.
- Season the outside of the bird with your choice of herbs, spices, salt and pepper. You can eyeball it and just shake the seasonings directly onto the chicken or premix the seasonings into a small bowl. Rub the seasonings into the skin with your hands.
- After you have washed your hands, again, you can decided if you want to place anything in the cavity for extra flavor. The essence of these will steam through as it’s cooking.***
- If you are not using a rack, you can slip some carrots, sliced lengthwise, or celery underneath the bird.
- Put the chicken into a cold oven. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and allow to roast for 25 to 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast for 20 minutes per pound, minus one pound.****
- When the chicken is done, allow it to sit for five minutes before carving. If you’ve never carved a bird before, now is the time to look it up on You Tube.
*You can reserve the innards to add to your gravy. Or give them to your dog or just pitch them. Up to you. Gravy will be covered in a separate recipe or you can just use the jar stuff. No judgement here.
**Exercise extreme caution whenever you are handling raw chicken. Get in the habit of having your sink ready with hot soapy water to clean your hands and wipe off anything you or the bird might have touched, such as the counter, the sink faucet, and the fridge handle. Sermon over.
***My favorite is leek tops because it’s subtle and I can still do whatever I like with the leftovers. Lemon is lovely, but, it may limit your options later on because all the meat will be infused with lemon flavor.
****For example, if your chicken weighs 7 pounds, subtract 1 pound and multiply 6 x 20, which is 120 minutes, or two hours. If you have a meat thermometer, the inside temperature of chicken should reach 185 degrees. No thermometer? Pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a knife. If the juices run clear it’s done.
The purpose of starting the chicken at a higher temperature is to sear the skin, which should hold in the juices better, resulting in a better tasting dinner. If at some point during the roasting process the skin appears too brown, simply tent it with foil.
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