Most months there are probably a couple of roast chickens on the menu at our house whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall. They may be slid unceremoniously onto the grill by husband Dave with only a fast slick of olive oil and a free-handed shower of salt and pepper (see below).
…or I might coddle and massage them into something much more serious and entertaining like this:Jump to Recipe
…for Friday night date night dinner when we’d pop a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir. There could be bacon on top if I’m feeling wild. You know how I best love a roasted chicken? However I just cooked it. And what comes a day or two later is even better sometimes — sandwiches out of real meat (goodbye deli), enchiladas, salads, pasta, soup...
Since I’m a forever Ina fan, I always agree with her when she answers the question…
What’s one dish you couldn’t live without?
“I think it’s roast chicken. To me, it’s a classic, comforting home meal and it’s amazingly simple to make. I love to make a roast chicken and fill the cavity with lemon and thyme, and then roast it in a pan of carrots and potatoes and onions, and it’s a meal in one dish.”FOOD AND WINE/ELISABETH SHERMAN: March, 2019
And it could be because my mom loved to roast a chicken. She always stuffed it with a bread stuffing just like a turkey–which I only do once in a blue moon. I’m a dark meat girl, but my mom loved to say, “I love the breast and all the rest.” Hence an at least once-a-year post for my current roast chicken crush and a fine reason to quote Mom at the table.
By the way, I’m really enjoying Ina’s newest book, MODERN COMFORT FOOD. I’ve made several recipes so far, but have cooked the yummy beef stew twice (added a bunch of herbs) and shared it with a few friends and neighbors.
Thank goodness there’s not much to go wrong roasting a chicken (or game hens) except knowing how to really get it truly done. Scroll down for info about that little problem. It can be flavored with lemon and thyme like Ina, rosemary and lemon and garlic — or bacon — like Alyce, or without much at all except a slick of olive oil and that free-handed sprinkle of salt and pepper like Dave.
Make sure you gather your favorite vegetables for the pan because if you’re going to stick this baby in the oven, it might as well be a one-pan dinner. Here I use quartered onions, whole cloves of garlic, baby potatoes, red bell peppers, black oil-cured olives (I got that idea from the wonderful and legendary Nigella Lawson), and zucchini. You might like beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, (see above) leeks, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, fennel, or whole shallots. There needn’t necessarily be a large variety of vegetables — only chunks of bright orange butternut squash are a nearly perfect whole roast chicken accompaniment. If something like broccoli or cauliflower makes you happier, wait a half hour into the roasting time before adding them (seasoned and drizzled with oil) to the roasting pan as they seem to cook more quickly than root vegetables or even peppers. Try this:
rosemary chicken with vegetables
- Olive oil
- 5 pound whole organic chicken—giblets removed
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- Lemon – cut into quarters
- 2 large sprigs of rosemary-divided (1 for the cavity/1 torn in half for the vegetables)
- 4 large plump cloves garlic (2 unpeeled for the cavity/2 peeled for the vegetables)
- 2 medium yellow onions – quartered and peeled with root end left intact
- 2 red or yellow or orange bell peppers- cored and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
- ¾ pound new red potatoes- scrubbed and sliced in half –do not peel
- 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 cup oil-cured pitted black olives – 6-7 ounces
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F, set rack in lower third of oven, and lightly oil the bottom of a roasting pan. Place chicken at center of pan, pat throughly dry with paper towels, then brush or drizzle and rub with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle the outside of the chicken evenly with a teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Sprinkle the inside with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with the quartered lemon, one sprig of rosemary, and 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic. Tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wings underneath the body of the chicken.
- Scatter vegetables around the chicken in the pan (plus the reserved sprig of rosemary torn in half and the other two cloves of garlic), drizzle with a tablespoon of olive, season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and the pinch of crushed red pepper. Stir to coat evenly. Turn potatoes so the cut sides face down.
- Roast for 45 minutes. Remove roasting pan from oven, turn vegetables over, and drizzle the chicken with a little additional oil if dry. If the chicken is already browning well, tent with foil. Return to oven for another half hour or more as needed until chicken is golden brown and an instant read thermometer stuck into the fleshy part of the thigh registers between 175 and 180 degrees F. The juices should also run clear where the thigh has been pierced. If not yet done, continue cooking another 10 minutes and test again.
- Remove from oven and using a thin-bladed spatula, scoop vegetables into a serving bowl and cover to keep warm. Let the chicken rest, tented with foil for 15 minutes on a cutting board before carving. Taste the vegetables and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve hot, warm, or cold and drizzle with pan juices if you like. If you want a pan sauce, see NOTES. Store leftovers for 3-4 days tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. You might also remove meat from bones, use as needed, and freeze the carcass to make chicken stock another day.
Another method to produce pan sauce: Add 2 cups chicken stock (or water) after the chicken has been roasting 15-20 minutes. The chicken and vegetables will braise in the liquid, flavoring it. (You can also do this at the beginning, but it will often evaporate though it will leave a good deal of flavor for the liquids you might later add to the pan.) Remove vegetables to bowl and cover, chicken to board for resting, and heat roasting pan over medium flame, adding 1/4 – 1/2 cup white wine/can sub stock (or more as needed), and a tablespoon of butter. Let cook, scraping up brown bits, season with salt and pepper (if needed), until reduced and thickened a little.
Chicken size: A smaller and organic bird (3-4 pounds) is often tastier, faster to cook and simpler to get done all the way through. They’re just not as available at my stores as the 5-6 pound chicken. If you have the 3-pounder, follow directions up to roasting for 45 minutes, and check for doneness at that point. If it’s not quite ready, return to the oven and check at 5 minute increments.
Choice of pan and/or rack for roasting/Carving Fork + Knife: Invest in a roasting pan or even a large, deep cast iron skillet (if you’re strong) to cook your chicken (and many other things.) While you can cook chicken in the oven on a 1/2 sheet pan, you cannot make a sauce or braise poultry or meat. I do think sheet pans are lovely for roasting cut-up chicken, but for a whole chicken a roasting pan or similar is worth the investment and, with its sturdy two handles, is safer. Check thrift stores for bargains and skip the lightweight versions. I like chicken roasted right down in the pan and not in or on a rack; I think — at least at altitude — it’s easier to get them done and they then flavor the vegetables and provide for a tastier pan sauce. Other cooks insist the rack is helpful for crisping the skin all around the chicken. You can try it both ways and see what you think. Carving Fork/Knife: Yes, you need these. An inexpensive, but decent set is here. In a pinch, buy a large cooking fork and use your best big and sharp knife for carving.
WINE: There is possibly nothing more versatile for pairing than a roast chicken. A lighter red is probably my favorite — something like a Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Montepulciano, Merlot, Syrah…you choose. Chat up the clerk in the wine shop if that would help. If you’d like a white, your choices could run the gamut from a Chardonnay or White Burgundy to maybe a Viognier. Did I mention rosé?! It’s a favorite roast chicken pairing —– and don’t forget to drink rosés all year round. They’re inexpensive, short-lived, and should be drank quite cold in case that appeals. You might think, too, about how you’ve flavored the chicken and push the pairing in that direction. (Italian seasonings = Montepulciano, for example) Read up here.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO ROAST A CHICKEN? HOW DO I KNOW IF IT’S DONE? Read up in this post. (P.S. Elevator version: Make sure your bird is thoroughly thawed and use a meat thermometer.)
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN STOCK IN ONE PHOTO (always worth repeating):
MORE INFO THAN YOU WANTED:
The More Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts I Sell, the Worse I Feel/BON APPÉTIT (why we need to buy whole chickens)
What’s in COSTCO rotisserie chicken? The ingredient list includes the following (in order): whole chicken, water, seasoning, potato dextrin, carrageenan, sugar, dextrose, spice extractives. (Yikes! But, like you, of course I still buy the occasional COSTCO chicken since it’s FAST AND CHEAP. Much better, though, to make own own at home without…all of that.)
There is nothing like roast chicken. It is helpful and agreeable, the perfect dish no matter what the circumstances. Elegant or homey, a dish for a dinner party or a family supper, it will not let you down. ~Laurie Colwin
Below: Cider Braised Duck with Onions, Shallots, Leeks and Carrots from one of my favorite cook/teacher/writers Susan Herrmann Loomis’ new book PLAT DU JOUR: FRENCH DINNERS MADE EASY. The recipe calls for duck legs, but I had only wild duck breasts gifted from our good friends Pam and (hunter) Lee Lehmkuhl (THANK YOU!!) — very lean, so had to wrap them in bacon using Pam’s expert advice. Instead of the indicated long, slow braise for the legs, I browned the breasts and removed them, then cooked the vegetables in the cider, adding the duck breast back in for the last 5 minutes or so. C’est magnifique! Need a tasty Valentine’s gift for the cook in your life? Here you go. This beautiful book, full of great photos by Francis Hammond (firstname.lastname@example.org), is also available on kindle if that sounds right.
LIFE GOES ON:
Tried some great almost and soon to be local cheese this week, an aged Gouda from Sawatch Artisan Foods….available in Colorado Springs from Sourdough Boulangerie at 6453 Omaha Blvd., 80915 719-233-6599. They also make fresh butter if that’s your thing! Read up about them here.
If you follow the blog, you’ll know our dogs Tucker (11 year-old Golden Retriever) and Rosie (6-year old flat-coated Labradoodle F1B). Here’s Rosie yesterday enjoying the sun in her Queen Nefertiti pose–a favorite. While Rosie is a calm, loving, kiss-giving pooch who is 98% couch potato, she is known around the neighborhood for the other 2%–a ridiculous, piercingly loud window nuisance barker anytime a dog (mom and small child, PRIME truck, bicycle, squirrel, bunny….) she’s the least bit suspicious of goes past. I’ve taken to calling her BP — for bark or park because those are her two speeds.
Between last week’s Turkey Minestrone and this week’s Rosemary Chicken with Vegetables, Joe Biden was inaugurated at long last as president (we watched tv all day long–very unusual for our house). Part of the country (I hope a big part) and world sighed a huge relief and we saw the inauguration show everyone needed. I’m all for scheduling inaugural balls later in the week from now on and continuing a tv celebration for all to share:
Did you ever see anything like this fireworks display? As a musician, my very favorite part of the whole thing was Lady Gaga. Talking about nailing it. Still exhaling and will be for a good while. We have a long way to go, but I’m confident we’re in better hands if only because Joe won’t try to buy Greenland.
Thanks for reading!
Roast a chicken so you can have a decent sandwich for lunch the next day…