The Humble, Simple Roast Chicken
Roast chicken is one of those things I make when I am out of ideas and do not have a lot of time to prep and slave over the stove. This dish practically cooks itself in one baking dish. Since I don’t make gravy, I line the baking dish with aluminum foil, which minimizes clean-up. Ten minutes of prep, about an hour of baking time and dinner is served. This also makes an elegant and impressive dinner for unexpected guests. Make two chickens on a Sunday and you will get many meals out of this dish. Leftovers are versatile and can be made into chicken sandwiches, salads, a pasta dish or quesadillas/tacos/enchiladas. Basically almost anything you can do a rotisserie chicken.
Yes, you can buy a rotisserie chicken at most grocery stores, so why bother? For one, you can control the quality and size of the chicken. It is always cheaper to cook yourself than buy prepared food. However, the best reason is because the home will smell great and hopefully the intoxicating smell of baking poultry and vegetables will get the kids interested in dinner.
As a child, the roasted whole chicken fresh out-the-oven held mythical status for me. Who wanted the “delicious” and complex, perfectly spiced curries my mother made? Not me! I wanted something different and nothing was more majestic, opulent, “oh-so-French” and bountiful than a whole roast chicken. She never made it – we barely had an oven for most of the years I was growing up because mom used the oven as storage for pots and pans. All of us want what we can’t have – even the young ones!
Here’s my “humble”, simple, go-to dinner that never fails to impress (me at least).
Simple Roast Chicken
- 1 (3 to 4 pound) roasting chicken- I like to use smaller chickens since I feel they are juicer, are sized just right for our family and cook faster
- 2-3 sprigs thyme/rosemary or other herbs (optional)
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 head garlic, cut in quarters, no need to peel
- 1 small onion, quartered
- Vegetables of choice – potatoes, carrots, fennel, squashes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, onions, etc. roughly cut up into even size pieces
- Olive oil
- 2-3 tbsps butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425F
- Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken.
- Stuff the cavity with the thyme/rosemary or other herbs, if using, halved lemon, garlic and cut-up onion
- Place the vegetables in a roasting pan and spread around the bottom of the pan. Toss with salt, pepper and olive oil
- Place the chicken on the vegetables or in a roasting rack on top of vegetables. Spread olive oil over skin and place little bits of butter all over the chicken
- Roast from 50 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes depending on size of chicken. If the vegetables are burning move them around or take them out and continue to roast the chicken. The chicken is ready when you pierce the leg and thigh joint and the juices run clear
- Remove from oven and rest for 10-15 minutes before digging in