Roasting a chicken is somehow comforting. Maybe it’s the “good food” smell it gives your house or just that it’s something simple and time-honored. It’s also very frugal and yet, despite all of these things, many of us have never dealt with a chicken and all its bones and other “unmentionables”, much less prepared one and roasted it to perfection. So, maybe roasting a chicken doesn’t sound very comforting to you at all. Maybe it just makes you anxious. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s simple and show you how to do it. Just tackle it once or twice. See how easy it is and how little time it takes you. Roasting a chicken may become part of your regular week before you know it!
This post just covers roasting a whole chicken (as well as carving and deboning it) but that’s only the first step in using a whole chicken in several other ways in your kitchen. If you don’t eat the chicken right away (and you can certainly do that. Plain, roasted chicken with a green salad is a wonderful and simple meal) you can use the meat in other dishes throughout the week and, of course, you have bones so you can make homemade bone broth.
So, after you roast your chicken click on over to our post on how to make homemade chicken broth. We also have several recipes that use chicken such as our Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole or our Sweet and Spicy Stuffed Peppers.
We like this high-temperature method of roasting a chicken. It’s a bit faster and you get a nice brown, crispy skin (even with the steam from the water we add). We’ve had a lot of success roasting chicken this way. We hope you will, too!
Without further adieu –
1 hour for a 4 lb bird
Tools and utensils:
1 double layer roasting pan. You can use one like what’s shown in our photos or just the one that came with your oven (check the drawer in the bottom of your oven. It may be there).
About 8 inches of butchers twine to tie the legs up – ask the meat guy at the deli/butchers counter at your grocery store. He’ll probably just give you some.
A meat thermometer – there are many different kinds and they are easy to find at home and grocery stores.
A large butcher’s knife
Some kitchen shears will be nice, if you have them. Again, inexpensive and easy to find at home and grocery stores.
Foil and parchment paper is handy because it makes clean up easy.
1 whole, raw, 4 to 5 lb chicken (preferably pastured or organic and antibiotic free)*
2 tsp Real or Celtic Sea Salt links, divided
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, divided
1 lemon, cut in half
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
Some water for the bottom of your roasting pan
You can also stuff the cavity of the chicken with whole heads of garlic, fresh thyme or fresh pieces of ginger. Get creative with your combinations of aromatics and other flavor enhancers.
*Your raw chicken will henceforth be referred to as “Naked Bird.”
- Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Lay a large sheet of foil down on your countertop. Lay a large sheet of parchment paper over the foil. This is where you’ll “dress” Naked Bird (because at this point he’s naked and embarrassed and needs to be dressed.)
- Set out your roasting pan and put water in the bottom until it comes about an inch and a half up the side of the pan. This will keep the fat dripping into the bottom of the pan from smoking up your house.
- Go ahead and get your salt, pepper, lemon, rosemary and twine ready. Once you start handling Naked Bird you won’t want to go rummaging around your kitchen with chicken germs on your fingers.
- At the kitchen sink check to see if there’s a package of giblets inside Naked Bird. If yes, take it out and set them aside. You’ll want to keep these for broth-making later.
- Now, rinse Naked Bird under cold water, inside and out.
- Pat Naked Bird dry with paper towels and then set him (her?) down on the foil/parchment paper surface you prepared with the large opening facing toward you (P.S. this is Naked Birds hind end).
- Now, sprinkle the inside of Naked Bird with 1 whole tsp of salt and about a ½ tsp of pepper. Use your fingers to sprinkle the seasoning around as much as you can.
- Stuff in your stuff – two lemon halves and rosemary sprigs. (I love that word, “sprigs.”)
- Set Naked Bird down and tuck the wings down and under the body.
- Tie Naked Birds legs together with twine and trim any long ends of string that may be sticking out when you’re done. You’ve probably heard of trussing. This is like that, only simpler, and accomplishes pretty much the same thing. It keeps the legs and wings in tight to ensure even cooking and no drying out of your drumsticks.
- Use the other tsp of salt and ½ tsp of pepper to liberally salt the top and sides of Naked Bird.
- Place Naked Bird on the roasting pan. Make sure the water is not touching the underside of the chicken…which is Naked Birds back, actually. How unceremonious!
- Fold up the foil and parchment paper being careful not to spill rogue salt and pepper crystals and throw it away. See? Quick and easy.
- Wash your hands.
- Carefully slide Naked Bird into the oven so as not to slosh the water.
- Roast Naked Bird for 1 hour (or until a meat thermometer stuck into the thigh reads 165 degrees.) If you do not have a thermometer you can also stick a knife into this part of the bird. If the juices run clear, it’s done! If your chicken is smaller or bigger than 4 to 5 lb it may take a little less than an hour or a few minutes more. Just roll with it.
- After roasting, Naked Bird is no longer naked. Let the chicken sit and cool for about half an hour. This way it’s easier to handle for carving and deboning. The chicken will be very juicy (especially on the inside). This is normal.
- Once your chicken is cool enough to handle use your large knife and a pair of kitchen shears, if you have them, to carve the bird.
- If you aren’t going to eat the chicken right away you can take the meat off the bones and save it for use in recipes later in the week. Keep all bones, giblets, cartilage and even skin for your stock pot. All of these things help to make a nourishing broth.