Roast chicken is to cooking what marijuana is accused of with drugs. It’s a gateway to stuff a lot worse.
Granted: roasting a chicken won’t lead you inexorably to dining with Theresa and her big hands and wide neck.
Perhaps worse isn’t the best word: more involved would be more precise.
Roasting a chicken shows you that this cooking thing isn’t so hard or time consuming as they say. You’ll season it with salt and pepper the first time and it’ll work. Next time, you’ll have half a lemon and decide to stick it in the cavity and it’ll work. Then you’ll shove garlic cloves under the skin to become all squishy and sweet after roasting and it’ll work. Then you’ll think, I wonder how hard it is to cook roast beef, or pork chops, or chilli, or bread or pie or…
It’s also comforting to eat and universal. Even Theresa will like it.
As the recipe below shows, there really isn’t much to it. If you’re able to plan ahead, take the chicken out of the fridge 30 – 45 minutes ahead of time. That will bring the chicken to room temperature which will help it brown more easily. I always forget to take it out ahead of time, hence the 10 minutes at 425F. If you’re organized enough to remember then just set the oven to 375F for the whole hour and a half.
There are tons of recipes for roast chicken. It’s a general guideline that for every 25 degree increase, you can reduce the time by 30 minutes. I find 400F for an hour browns the skin too much and dries out the breasts. Two hours at 350F is just too ridiculously long. For me, 375F for an hour and a half gets the best results.
Technically, the chicken is done when the breast is 180F and the thigh is 170F away from the bone when measured with a probe thermometer. But you’re going to cook these a billion times, and piercing the skin is going to let out all the moisture. So, learn to tell by sight and trust your cooking ability and your oven. Once you cook it a few times, you’ll get an idea of your oven’s temperature and temperament. You’ll also be able to gauge whether the particular chicken you’re cooking needs a little less or more time depending on a number of factors: how big or small it is; how long it’s been out of the fridge; or how hot your oven gets. So use what I say below as a guide and adjust to your circumstances – something you should be doing anyway with every recipe you ever try to follow.
Speaking of recipes, the one below only seasons with salt and pepper, because lately, I’ve been on a keep-it-simple kick. I do really load it with salt though, as the picture shows. You may want to adjust accordingly. Rosemary, sage, garlic, lemon, paprika are all frequent friends to roast chicken in our house as well.
- 1 whole chicken, about 1.5kg
- 1 carrot
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 onion
- olive oil, salt and pepper
Heat your oven to 425F. In a roasting dish place the carrot, celery and onion.
Lightly oil the chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (or any herb or spice that you like). Place on top of the carrot, celery and onion. Pop that bad boy in the oven.
After 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 375F. After an hour and 20 minutes, take it out of the oven.
Using the non-business end of a wooden spoon, give the chicken the old 1-2 (stick the spoon up the butt cavity). Lift the chicken onto a cutting board. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.
Serve immediately with anything that’s not dessert.
- OK, he was talking about alcohol, but still… [↩]