The focus for this recipe is to understand how to transform a relatively large and sometimes intimidating piece of meat (in this case a whole chicken) into an easy meal for 3-5 people. The steps in this recipe can be used for any other types of roasts, pork loins, rib roasts, duck or rabbit. Not only does roasting provide a flavorful and complex dish it can serve as a reasonably healthy cooking method. There is little to no fat added in this technique and what we do add is used sparingly to accomplish a great deal of flavor.
Learning how to properly roast is really just figuring out how to manipulate temperatures and cooking times to create the desired “doneness.”
My favorite part of roasting is the sensory effect that this dish provides by filling the house with anticipation; it’s a lot like baking in the sense that it broadcasts the meal beforehand.
This recipe can be prepared up to two days prior, if kept refrigerated, and can be a wholesome and healthy meal serving as a-go-to for a busy family.
– A roasting pan
– 2-3oz of oil or real unsalted butter
– Vegetables (celery, carrots, onions, red potatoes)
– 1 large responsibly raised and processed chicken – 3-5 lbs. (They call these “roasters” in the butcher’s section; “Fryers” are typically smaller and younger birds.)
– Salt and pepper
* Begin by pulling your chicken or roast out of the fridge about an hour prior to when you you plan to begin cooking it (keep in mind that cooking time is about an hour). This allows for the meat to temper, meaning to bring the meat nearer to room temperature before cooking, resulting in it cooking more evenly throughout. Rinse your chicken thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel, make sure to inspect the cavity of the bird and remove anything that may still be inside.
* Next preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; anything cooler will impair the crisping of the skin or the browning of a roast. While preheating the oven, coat the now dry chicken with a small amount of olive oil or unsalted butter. Though chicken is a typically self-basting item, due to its layer of fat just under the skin, the healthier free-range birds will not have as much, so a little added fat helps out with the browning process. Season the whole bird with salt and pepper, including the cavity, a lot of the cooking process occurs within the bird and some seasoning can help to circulate throughout while cooking. For some added spice, you can place any type of aromatic within the cavity, rosemary and a squeezed lemon is a common and appropriate choice.
– Lastly place any other vegetables or small, even cut potatoes in the roasting pan around the bird if desired. The cooking process and the pan drippings will make a tasty side dish to complete your meal. If using vegetables, be careful with the amount of salt and pepper used. Too much can overpower the starch or vegetables.
* Cook your now seasoned and tempered bird in the oven for about an hour until golden brown and crispy all over. An internal temperature of the hind leg meat should reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, look for clear juices coming from the cavity of the bird. This is a sign that the internal parts have cooked throughout. When completely cooked, allow to rest for 15-20 minutes and carve as you would a turkey.