There are few things in life better than a roast chicken. I mean, in my book, it definitely sits at the champions’ table with August tomatoes, café au laits, and pizza. And when you can throw all your veggies into the pot with it, a delicious dinner is also really simple to make. I used to be terrified of cooking chicken, and always WAY overcooked it for fear of a salmonella party on my plate. But with roast chicken, you really don’t have to fret too much. The juices keep the bird moist and tender, and being in an oven for hours almost guarantees a fully cooked dinner.
At school, they taught us about 20 minutes per pound, plus 20 minutes extra for good measure, in a 350⁰ oven. So if you like formulas, there you have one! More simply, throw it in the oven for an hour and a half to two hours, depending on how big the bird is.
Before you even get to cooking, buy a good bird. In the age of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food, Inc., I’ve found myself seeking out places where I can buy real meat that comes from real farms. In a get-rich-quick-Ah-Ha!-moment, I considered starting a website where you could search, by zip code, all the great grocers, butchers, farmers, etc in your area… until I realized it already existed! In two forms (both are helpful): www.eatwellguide.org and www.localharvest.org. So there you have it—every time you buy groceries you’re casting a vote. Ok, let me put away the soap box…. Eeeeeend scene.
Phew, back to the chicken! I picked up an onion, some carrots, and a yam at the market. These you can peel and chop to lie on the bottom of your roasting pan. Season them with salt and pepper. Now, remove any innards from your chicken and pat it completely dry with a paper towel. If it’s wet, it won’t brown properly. Heavily salt and pepper the inner cavity and the outside of the bird. I stuffed it with a lemon cut into quarters and a bunch of thyme. Lay the bird, breast side up, with the wings neatly folded underneath, on top of the veggies in the roasting pan.
And that’s basically it! I dotted the bird and the veggies with some butter (because that will obviously make it taste that much better!). And into the oven it went. 350⁰ for an hour and a half. It is done when you prick the skin between the drumstick and the body, and the juices run out clear. Take it out to rest for 15 minutes at least before carving.
Feel free to switch up the veggies as well—potatoes, turnips, radishes, sweet potatoes, squash, etc—you can’t go wrong!
- One whole chicken
- One onion, peeled and chopped
- 4-6 carrots, peeled and chopped
- One yam, peeled and chopped
- One lemon, quartered
- A bunch of thyme
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- Plenty of salt and fresh ground pepper