March 9, 2013

Whole Roasted Chicken

Tonight we tackled a whole roasted chicken for dinner.  It may seem like a daunting task, but in reality, the oven does all the work.  We ventured over to Trader Joe's to pick up some groceries for the week, and picked up our bird.  The nice thing is that they have whole organic chickens that are already brined.  Whether you brine it yourself or buy a pre-brined bird, brining is the way to go.  It helps keep the meat really moist and delicious.
So once we got our bird home, Justin got to work on him, giving him a nice rub down with some butter and Kosher salt, making sure to get some of the butter under the skin as well.  Despite the brining, you still want to liberally salt the skin.  This too will help keep him moist.  And the butter helps brown the skin so it's nice and crispy.

While Justin was massaging the chicken, I got to work chopping up all the veggies to make a nice little bed for him.  We went with leeks, celery, half an onion, and some carrots.

I also got together the aromatics that we stuffed into the cavity of the bird.  These included a whole lemon, sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and half an onion.  Then you just stuff it all inside the cavity.
Once everything is stuffed inside, you want to close the cavity by tying the drumsticks together.  We'd consulted Ruhlman's Twenty prior to roasting to see what Mr. Ruhlman suggested, and to keep the meat moist, he recommended either stuffing the cavity or closing the cavity (he also recommended the liberal use of salt).  Doing so prevents the hot air from circulating through there and drying the meat out from the inside.  We figured we'd do both, to keep the meat moist, and add some additional flavors.
Once he was all tied up, we placed him on his bed of veggies so he was nice and cozy, and placed him in a 450 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  Justin has a convection oven, so he cooked a bit faster than if we were using my regular oven.  If you want to check your bird, the telltale sign of doneness is when the juices run clear.  After about 45 minutes, our bird was pretty much done.  We wanted to crisp up all of his skin, so we flipped him, and put him back in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Mmmm...look at that delicious, golden brown, crispy skin!  Just like any other meat, you'll want to let your chicken rest for a good 10 minutes before you start carving him.  So while our guy rested, I added a little butter, and some fresh thyme, sage, rosemary, and fresh cracked pepper to the veggies.  I also took a wedge of lemon that had been in the cavity, and squeezed some of the juice over them.  Then it was time to eat!
The meat was so juicy and moist, with hints of the lemon and herbs that we'd stuffed inside it.  The skin was perfectly crisp with just a hint of salt.  The veggies still had some bit to them, and were a perfect complement to the bird.  We also baked up a sweet potato and topped it with some pancetta and green onion.  So if you're looking for an easy, one pan meal, you should definitely try roasting a whole chicken.  Plus you'll have leftovers for later in the week!


  1. I never brined a chicken in my life, and used to make a roast chicken every Friday night for dinner for years, when my son was growing up. After washing and then patting it dry (with just one paper towel) I always put a lot of salt, pepper, paprik,& a drop of garlic powder on the chicken, and rub it in all over, then pop it in the oven. One of the easiest meals in the world to cook; you don't need to be a "chef." This is how my grandmother and my mother made roast chicken. And my son & I fought over the crispy skin just as my sisters & I did 50 years ago. I used to get anxious over cooking a turkey, until I realized its just a big chicken. I season it the same, pop it in the oven on high..& cook it fast, at 400. Comes out perfect every year!

  2. PS: Of course, in a Jewish household, I never put butter on a chicken (or any meat) even though I am not "religious." After hearing (as an adult & after becoming a mom) the reasons why folks who keep kosher do not mix meat & dairy, just the thought of it just grosses me out. In those moments, I contemplate going vegetarian again. Anyway, I never even put olive oil on the skin..and we get crispy-skin chicken every time.

    1. Thanks for your roast chicken suggestion. We'll have to try it some time.