Have you come off of your sugar high yet? After eating that sheath cake all weekend, the gym is calling my name. Most days I just don’t answer.
I know that a whole roast chicken is available at every store around: Central Market (David’s favorite), Whole Foods ($1 off on Wednesdays), eatZi’s, Boston Market, Kuby’s (smoked chicken)… yes, it is super convenient to pick this up and I often do. However, if I am in the mood to have home cooked and have an hour to bake, it really is pretty easy. The recipes that I have found and tried are basically the same with a few variations of flavoring: Joy of Cooking – butter and salt; Ruth Reichl, Garlic and Sapphires (book club - loved it!) - olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper; Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) - butter, salt and pepper, lemon, herbs.
Side story – in Ina’s recipe, it provides directions to “Remove any ... leftover pin feathers....” Has anyone ever bought a chicken that still has pin feathers? Really – where? She puts the true meaning into “farm fresh.” (Since the original post, some helpful readers have enlightened me: kosher chickens tend to have pin feathers. Thanks for making me wiser!).
The short, basic version for all of these is:
- 1 whole chicken (about 4-5 lbs)
- Butter or olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Additional herbs and vegetables, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 (Ina cooks at 425).
Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Grease (with oil, butter or Pam) your shallow roasting pan or baking sheet. Brush or rub the chicken with butter (2-3 T) or olive oil. Liberally sprinkle the skin and the cavity with salt and pepper.
Bake for 55-65 minutes (for 4 lb chicken – if you have a larger chicken, cook 8 minutes more for each additional lb) until the thickest part of the breast reaches 170-175 degrees (using your handy dandy meat thermometer!).
If you want to cook some vegetables with the chicken, then consider adding these around the chicken in the pan: yellow or white onion, sliced or cut into chunk pieces; carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks; fennel, tops removed and cut into wedges;
gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 8 pieces; 3-4 garlic cloves. Prior to placing in the dish, toss the veggies with olive oil until lightly coated then spread in the pan around the chicken – you can also sprinkle some salt and pepper on them too. Yukon
Some recipes suggest placing a lemon in the cavity by either puncturing it first or cutting the lemon in half. You can also place thyme sprigs and/or garlic cloves in there too. It depends on the flavors that you like.
As you can see from the picture, we had a bake off. The butter (chicken on the left) made a browner skin. The oil (chicken on the right) made a bigger mess of my oven. David claimed that he couldn't taste the difference. There you have it - very scientific and definitive.