You know what I love? I love a meal that seems really fancy and involved and adult, but it really isn’t. It’s really super simple, but delicious and grown-up and all kinds of impressive. Roasted whole chicken, ahoy!
Roasted chicken is the perfect meal for someone who is new to cooking and looking to impress. You prep it, you stick it in the oven and you leave it. And then you have juicy, crispy, aromatic deliciousness. Some roasted potatoes and steamed green beans and you know what you have then? Sunday dinner. Good ol’ fashioned Sunday dinner. Especially with this recipe.
There are a few specific but simple steps to get this extra crispy, extra juicy chicken just right.
First things first, wash the chicken really well, inside and out. I know some people are a little squeamish dealing with a whole raw chicken; deep breaths, you can do this. I’ve found it helps to sing the Super Chicken theme song. You know, Super Chicken? This guy? Totally helps with the eww-factor.
Sidenote: Most chickens come with a bag of giblets, usually stuck in the cavity. BE SURE TO REMOVE THIS BEFORE PREPARING YOUR BIRD. The last thing you want is a plastic bag of giblets roasted into your chicken. THAT would ruin Sunday dinner, trust me.
After you wash it, you’ll want to dry it thoroughly. Bone dry. Inside and out. This is going to help the skin crisp up quicker without needing butter. Just dry that bird out good.
I like to stuff the bird with a combination of fresh herbs and citruses. Lemon and rosemary are a classic mix, though I usually toss an orange in for a little sweetness and fragrance. Before stuffing the cavity, be sure to do a light salt and pepper rub. I like to do a fresh, coarsely ground pepper and sea salt combo; it helps for a nice salty crust. Grind a bit in a small bowl and combine for your rub.
After stuffing the bird, run your finger between the skin and meat to create a pocket on both sides of the breast. There should be a small opening near the bottom of the breast on either side; just gently separate the skin from the tissue without puncturing the skin. In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, salt, pepper, fresh chopped rosemary and thyme and a little bit of olive oil to a paste. Rub this paste under the skin, on top of the meat. You can massage the outside of the breast to get the herb rub to distribute evenly. It’s amazing how flavorful the skin and breast will get from this rub; insane.
When dressing the bird, tie the legs together tightly with twine. I do a figure 8 between the two legs with a couple of knots to make sure it stays tight throughout the roasting. Tuck the wings in close to the body, sticking the ends between the thigh and body to keep them in place. Keeping the body tightly packed will help it crisp up even more so.
Before roasting the chicken, let it sit with the aromatics and citruses in it for about an hour. This will allow the flavors to really seep into the chicken before baking; it will make all the difference in the flavor. Bake it at a high heat for about 30 minutes to develop the crisp skin then lower the heat to continue roasting all the way through. After lowering the heat, I like to baste the bird every 15 minutes or so to keep it juicy. This is a really important step to keep it from drying out. If you don’t have a baster, you can just spoon the juices on top of the bird. Be sure to get all areas; the breast, wings and legs. You’ll want to roast the bird until a meat thermometer reads 160º in the breast or 180º in the thigh or leg. This is the minimum temperature to serve chicken safely at; be sure it roasts for long enough.
See that blackened rosemary? After about 5 minutes, your entire house will smell like roasting rosemary. It is the loveliest, most comforting scent, and it will leave you salivating for the next 90 minutes before you can actually dig into that bird.
Which, by the way, is delicious. Super crisp skin, super juicy meat, with a lemony, herbal flavor laced in. It is crazy delicious, and it will impress anyone you serve it to. You don’t even have to tell them how easy it is; let them think you are an absolute culinary genius. Mmm. Sunday Super Chicken. BUCK-ACK! THG
The Best Roasted Chicken
1 4-5 lb. whole roasting chicken
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 medium lemons, 1 zested and both quartered
1 small orange
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3-4 stems fresh rosemary
2-3 stems fresh thyme
2 tsp. olive oil
Remove giblet bag from chicken cavity. Wash bird thoroughly. Dry completely inside and out. Place in a roasting pan or large casserole dish. In a small bowl, combine sea salt and cracked black pepper. Rub a small amount to coat the inside of the cavity. Stuff cavity with lemon and orange quarters, garlic, all but 1 stem of fresh thyme and all but two stem of rosemary. Using your finger, gently separate the skin from the breast meat. In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, finely chopped thyme leaves and rosemary leaves, sea salt and pepper, and 1 tsp. olive oil. Mix well to make a paste. Rub paste under skin on top of breast meat. Massage outside of breast to evenly distribute the rub. Rub the remaining 1 tsp. of olive oil on the outside of the bird. Generously season with sea salt and pepper. Tie legs together over breast with twine; tuck wings into the legs. Place remaining rosemary stem between legs. Let bird sit for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Roast bird in middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375ºF and continue to roast, basting every 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the breast reads 160ºF or into the leg/thigh reads 180ºF, about 60-75 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.