I’m not really the kind of person that likes to do anything quickly. Fast things have never been enjoyable for me, which is why I tend to cook things that take a long time. Simmering, stewing, rising, kneading, and stirring for hours actually hold genuine appeal to me. I love the sort of meditative process that naturally evolves from long, involved sorts of cooking and baking, but I recognize it isn’t everyone’s favorite pass-time.
This simple roasted chicken recipe looks involved, and can certainly impress whomever you share it with, but it does not require constant labor. A roast chicken is one of the most underrated main courses, I think, of all time. Little prep work, and not too much culinary intuition required if you’ve got a decent thermometer. You quickly dress it up, pop it in the oven, and wait. For that lovely golden skin and some extra moisture, you can baste the bird every 20-30 minutes while baking, but it’s really not much extra work for the payoff. A collective five minutes– tops.
One of the biggest turn-aways for people when it comes to baking a whole bird, I think, is the question of what to do with the carcass after. I admit that I don’t enjoy the post-carving stage of getting all the little bits of meat off… it is kinda gross. But once you have, you are FAR from done with those bones. I love roast chickens because of that leftover carcass, since you really get two meals in one. Boil everything left over, skin, bones, gristle and all, with vegetable scraps (I keep mine in a big bag in the freezer–you never need to throw out carrot tops or onion skins!), and you have the most luxurious chicken broth ever. Make some quick rustic noodles, or buy some–no one will judge you–and you’ve got a hearty chicken soup on day 2. Boom.
And who knows, if I have a little extra time this week, I may throw in my recipe for that as well.
Homemade broth really tastes better anyway, since you can have full flexibility with it. Pre-roasted or charred veggies can take things in a lovely new direction, or throwing in a couple of mushrooms can really round things out nicely. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what you like.
As far as the potatoes go, I use the exact same seasoning mix for them as I do for the chicken. If you’re using russets or any larger baking potato, just give them a dice before coating in the seasoned oil, and you’ll be grand. I happen to think these little colorful baby potatoes look lovely, but a humble brown russet will taste just as wonderful and they cost next to nothing. Also, the fresh herbs in this recipe are NOT necessary. I love the way fresh green herbs look on the plate, and when I use them in cooking I’m instantly transported into the heavily romanticized mental picture I have of what it would be like to cook in a French country kitchen 500 years ago, but most people probably won’t even taste the difference. Dried herbs do lose flavor over time, though, so if yours have been sitting in the cupboard for more than a couple months, you may want to be a bit more generous with your application.
Also, on a completely unrelated note, I’ve decided to start featuring pieces of jewelry in my recipe photos.. As some of my readers may know, I have many hobbies, but jewelry making has always been one of my favorites. In the past, I’ve started Etsy stores and county-fair-type projects, but produced a piece maybe once every few months, and I want to motivate myself to create more. So if you’ve had a secret desire to see me model my own jewelry while completing mundane tasks in dramatic lighting, the wait is over.
Also, I know a lot of people make a fuss about the correct dish to roast a chicken in. Ideally, yes, you’d use a roasting pan with a raised wire tray, but I’ve never bothered to buy one. I’ve used sheet pans, cake pans, casseroles, and skillets, and they all do just fine. You just want to make sure it’s large enough that no part of the chicken extends past the edge of the dish (you don’t want those drippings on the bottom of your oven!), and know that the higher the sides of the dish, the less crispy the sides of the chicken. Air circulation=crispy skin. I’ve read many tips on how to get the best roast, and one popular “hack” is to use vegetables to prop up your chicken to get that circulation underneath the bird, (assuming you don’t have a roasting rack). While this does improve the chicken, in my experience, the veggies don’t cook well. They’ve always turned out a bit soggy and under-cooked. So if you’re using potatoes or carrots as props… maybe don’t expect to eat them.
Simple Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Rosemary
1 whole chicken, thawed (both “fryer” and “roasting” chickens are fine, the cooking time will just vary based on the weight.)
1-3 t. salt
1 T dried thyme/ 3 sprigs fresh
1 T dried rosemary/ 3 sprigs fresh
1 T dried oregano/ 3-5 sprigs fresh
1 t. ground black pepper
1/2-1 large white onion
1 head of garlic
1 c. white wine
5 T olive oil
4 lbs potatoes, baby or russet, chopped
1 red onion, sliced into wedges
Preheat oven to 350. Remove giblets from chicken, if present, and rinse the bird thoroughly. Pat dry, and then use your hands to spread a liberal amount of salt all over the chicken, including the inside of the cavity. In a small bowl, mix all herbs (destemmed), pepper, and olive oil. Use a pastry brush to spread half of the mixture onto the chicken, and make sure to rub some under the skin as well. Reserve the rest of the herb/oil mixture for the potatoes. On a clean cutting board, slice the white onion into thick wedges and slice the head of garlic in half, “long ways”. Stuff the chicken with the garlic and onions, then truss with food-safe string. Spread a small amount of olive oil on the bottom of your baking dish (unless you’re baking the chicken on a roasting tray with a wire rack), and place the bird inside, breast up. Roast until the inside of the chicken reaches 165 degrees, basting every 20-30 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, when you baste the first time, add the cup of wine to the pan. It turns into the most glorious sauce and adds flavor to the chicken as you baste! A good timing metric, since every chicken varies, is to bake 20 minutes for every pound of bird, with an extra 15 minutes at the end. ( I like to turn the heat up to 450 for the last ten minutes for some extra browning).
When you have about 50 minutes of baking left, place your potatoes and red onion in a large bowl and pour over the rest of the olive oil mixture. Toss to coat, and then spread evenly on a baking sheet. Place in the oven with the chicken, on a low rack. For even browning, which the chicken and potatoes about halfway through the baking time. Potatoes are done when the skins are slightly crisped and a fork easily pierces them through.
When both the potatoes and chicken are finished roasting, remove from oven and let the chicken rest at least 15 minutes before carving. Remove chicken from it’s roasting pan and adjust the wine/juices mixture to taste. Serve sauce to the side for both potatoes and meat. Enjoy hot!