Roast Chicken the Easy Way

Roast Chicken 1200

I’m a rustic cook. I don’t like to fuss much, and I favor the simple but fabulous. This is especially evident when I cook a chicken. Butter under the skin? Brining? Trussing? Too involved, and generally not for me. I like a simpler approach: shove some herbs and aromatics into the chicken and just roast chicken the easy way. This is one of the simplest things in the world to cook. There’s a little prep, then an hour or so of unattended roasting, giving the cook lots of time to assemble the rest of supper.

Simple but fabulous demands good ingredients to start with. I get my chicken from a producer at my local farmers’ market (thanks, Otto’s!) My herbs come from the garden patch just outside my kitchen door. I favor classic combinations; the aromatics I use most often are lemon or onion – both will add moisture and flavor to the chicken. My standby herbs are rosemary, sage, or thyme. Experiment to find your own combinations!

preparation

Heat oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Select the herb(s) and aromatics you’ll use according to your taste and what’s handy in your pantry. Rosemary and lemon is a classic combination, but play around, because there are many wonderful herbs you can use. The aromatics – lemon or onion – are there to bring both flavor and moisture to the center of the bird while it roasts, infusing it with flavor.

Remove the neck and/or giblets that have been stuffed into the chicken; we won’t use them this time. Don’t rinse the chicken in your sink or anywhere else. Just drain any liquid that has accumulated in the cavity, or if you prefer, sop it up with a paper towel and discard it.

salt, herbs, and aromatics go inside the bird

Now sprinkle the salt around the inside of the cavity: I aim a spoon in there and just shake it around. Stick in some fresh herbs – for rosemary, I use 2 or 3 3-inch branches; for sage, a little bundle of 5-6 leaves. Chop your aromatic roughly, in 1 to 1.5 inch chunks, and stuff those in there too. Don’t worry about being tidy: it’s there to boost flavor, and nobody will see this stuff.

put the bird in a pan and oil it

Set the chicken on its back in a low sided pan. You might choose to use a roasting rack, though I like to cross its little wings under its ‘shoulders’ to make a nice platform.  I never truss the bird, but if you like to do it, go ahead.

Take a handful of oil and slather the bird as if you were smoothing on suntan oil. Actually, in a way, you’re doing just that: the oil will help the skin get nice and brown.

roast undisturbed

Roast the chicken, uncovered, for about an hour and 15 minutes. Now you have plenty of time to prepare the other parts of your dinner, set the table, and even drink a little glass of something nice.

test for doneness

After an hour or so, begin checking if the chicken is completely done. You can stick the tip of a small knife into the thigh, and if the juices run clear, it’s ready. An instant-read thermometer gives a precise temperature. Insert it into the thickest part of the thigh, but not near bone or fat, and look for a reading of 165. My shortcut test: ‘shake hands’ with the drumstick. If the bone comes right off, the chicken is done!

Remove from the oven, and let the chicken stand 10 minutes. Discard aromatics and herbs, carve, and serve.

cook’s tip

Save the skin and bones! In my next post, I’ll let you know how to produce liquid gold from what some people think of as garbage.

Roast Chicken 1200

Simple Roast Chicken

Roast chicken, very simple
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 whole roasting chicken, about 4 lbs
  • handful fresh herbs of your choice: rosemary, thyme, or sage are my own favorites
  • 1 aromatic of your choice: lemon, small onion
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp oil

Instructions
 

PREPARATION

  • Heat oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
    Select the herb(s) and aromatics you’ll use according to your taste and what’s handy in your pantry. Rosemary and lemon is a classic combination, but play around, because there are many wonderful herbs you can use. The aromatics – lemon or onion – are there to bring both flavor and moisture to the center of the bird while it roasts, infusing it with flavor.
  • Remove the neck and/or giblets that have been stuffed into the chicken; we won’t use them this time. Don’t rinse the chicken in your sink or anywhere else. Just drain any liquid that has accumulated in the cavity, or if you prefer, sop it up with a paper towel and discard it.
  • Now sprinkle the salt around the inside of the cavity: I aim a spoon in there and just shake it around. Stick in some fresh herbs – for rosemary, I use 2 or 3 3-inch branches; for sage, a little bundle of 5-6 leaves. Chop your aromatic roughly, in 1 to 1.5 inch chunks, and stuff those in there too. Don’t worry about being tidy: it’s there to boost flavor, and nobody will see this stuff.
  • Set the chicken on its back in a low sided pan. You might choose to use a roasting rack, though I like to cross its little wings under its ‘shoulders’ to make a nice platform.  I never truss the bird, but if you like to do it, go ahead.

OIL BIRD AND ROAST

  • Take a handful of oil and slather the bird as if you were smoothing on suntan oil. Actually, in a way, you’re doing just that: the oil will help the skin get nice and brown.
  • Roast the chicken, uncovered, for about an hour.
    Now you have plenty of time to prepare the other parts of your dinner, set the table, and even drink a little glass of something nice.
  • After an hour or so, begin checking if the chicken is completely done. You can stick the tip of a small knife into the thigh, and if the juices run clear, it’s ready. An instant-read thermometer gives a precise temperature. Insert it into the thickest part of the thigh, but not near bone or fat, and look for a reading of 165. 
    My shortcut test: ‘shake hands’ with the drumstick. If the bone comes right off, the chicken is done!
  • Remove from the oven, and let the chicken stand 10 minutes. Discard aromatics and herbs, carve, and serve.
Keyword roast, chicken, poultry

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I’m Maurita Plouff, and I write about cooking and preserving the local harvest in Southeast Michigan. Any recipe you find here is something I have cooked myself, and enjoyed, and think you might like too. I invite you to try the recipes, and leave comments.

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