OK, I know Mondays aren’t especially happy for many of us. I hear you! But you know what will make your Monday so, SO much better? A whole chicken just out of the oven, all golden and crispy-skinned, on a bed of potatoes and onions tender-roasted in the drippings – YUMMMMM.
There are few things better in life, in my opinion, than fresh-roasted chicken. I stand over it at the stove, ripping pieces off of the still piping-hot bird, burning my fingers, dipping the pieces in the buttery pan drippings . . . THE BEST.
As I was prepping this weekend to make a chicken risotto recipe I’ll share later in the week, I thought it would be helpful to share the method I use for roasting a chicken. This is one that I uncovered on The Kitchn’s website when I was new to the process. If you’ve never visited The Kitchn’s site, check it out by clicking here. Affectionately referred to by me as “The Bible,” it’s my top-trusted source of wisdom whenever I am trying to figure out some cooking technique for the first time. The Kitchn was responsible for me baking my first pumpkin pie from scratch the Thanksgiving before last (ah-mazing!), instructs me on how to roast numerous vegetables, and made me a bacon-in-the-oven convert (cooking it on a baking sheet covered with tin foil = no more half-burnt/half-chewy pan-fried messes or microwaved bacon getting stuck to layers of paper towels!). Long story short, I must give The Kitchn credit for this method of roasting the chicken.
I love the simplicity of this dish. It is seriously so easy to make, and I love how with the addition of a salad or other green vegetable, it’s a wholly complete meal.
And this meal will be even more wholly and happily complete if an organic, free-range bird is used rather than a conventionally-raised one. I know they can be hard to find (my local grocer was out of organic birds when I went to buy the one for this recipe, so I had to settle for a non-organic one raised without hormones and antibiotics – better than wholly conventional), but they are worth it! When we purchase meat consciously, we are telling stores and big agriculture what we want: meat from animals that were raised humanely. And striking up relationships with local farmers and buying meat from those you trust and whose methods you can be intimately aware of – that is the best. It often requires extra planning and logistics to buy your meat from local sources, but it’s worth it. I’ve got a beef source – now I need a poultry source (a goal for 2017!).
OK, I’m off my soapbox now – on to the recipe!
-6 to 8 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
-2 medium-sized onions, skins removed and chopped
-1 3- to 4-pound chicken
-3 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
-Fresh-ground black pepper
-Optional: additional spices; a lemon; garlic cloves
OK, here we go: preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the chopped potatoes and onions into a large baking dish, such as a 9-by-13-inch pan. Here’s the fun part: reach inside the cavity of the chicken and remove the bag of giblets, if there is one. Either reserve if you’d like to use them to make stock or in another endeavor, or discard. Then pat the chicken thoroughly, inside and out, with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Rest on top of the bed of potatoes and onions.
The real fun part (I seriously get joy out of this because I heart butter): rub the chicken all over with the melted butter. Season liberally with the salt and pepper and any extra spices you desire. If you’d like, you can also insert a whole lemon or several cloves of garlic into the chicken cavity for extra flavoring.
Once the chicken is ready to go into the oven, put it in, reduce the heat to 400 degrees, and set a timer for 50 minutes. When that time has elapsed, check the chicken for doneness; you know it’s done when the juices run clear (rather than bloody) when you cut into it and when a meat thermometer stuck into one of the thighs registers at least 165 degrees. If the chicken isn’t done, put it back into the oven and check it every 10 minutes or so until it meets these qualifications (my chicken took about an hour and a half to cook – but my oven is notoriously slow). When it is ready, The Kitchn recommends pulling it out of the oven and letting it rest for 15 minutes before carving it (if you can resist tearing into it for that long!).
And there you have it! You have a beautiful roast chicken and vegetables to serve with very minimal effort. Even if you don’t have a large family to feed or aren’t prepping for a recipe, having chicken on hand during the week, I’ve found, is immensely helpful. You can use it to make sandwiches; throw it into salads; put it in quinoa bowls or on nachos – the possibilities are nearly endless!