Most of you are probably planning to roast a turkey for Thanksgiving, but here’s an option for a smaller gathering: roast chicken. The technique for making a roast chicken and a roast turkey is the same. I love roast chicken, and it’s incredibly easy to do. It makes a great family dinner or weekend entertaining dish. When MM and I travel we often make it as a thank you meal for our hosts, and it never ceases to please. When I was a chef in a private home, my clients always asked me to make two birds on a Sunday night. They and their guests would eat one on Sunday night, then there would be a second one as leftovers during the week.
Many friends have asked me for this recipe, but I’ll dedicate it to Ann. I’ve served my roast chicken to Ann’s daughter, Barbe, one of my very best friends, in many locations and situations as we’ve raised our children. It’s taken me a while to put down, but here it is. I hope you enjoy it!
Roast Chicken, My Way
- 1 chicken* at 2 3/4-4 pounds
- 1-2 lemons
- generous bunch of fresh herbs of your choice (rosemary, tarragon, mint, etc.)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Prepare the chicken. If using kosher chicken, soak the chicken in cold water for 30 minutes.
Remove any lump of fat that you find in the chicken.
Wash the entire chicken well under cold water and pat dry before cooking.
Either cut off the wings tips and save them for stock, or, if you prefer to eat them once roasted, twist and tuck them behind the shoulders. I like to cut them off for stock. Cut off the neck if it’s attached to your chicken. Save the trimmed wing tips and neck for stock.
Cut the lemons into quarters. Stuff the chicken cavity with the lemons and herbs. In this case, I’m using rosemary. Don’t be shy—you really want to stuff the cavity with the herbs, so the meat can become permeated with the flavor of the herbs.
Tie the legs together. Or, if the bird is gangly, truss it.
Do not salt kosher chicken. If the chicken is not kosher, salt the skin with coarse salt before putting it in the oven.
Set the chicken on a roasting rack over a roasting pan and place it in the oven. Cook for approximately 15 minutes a pound. The chicken is done, the FDA and I agree, when a (properly calibrated) thermometer inserted between the thigh and breast reaches 165 degrees.
Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and place it on a platter. Remove the fat from the roasting pan. Slash the skin on the chicken between the breast and leg. Tilt the bird to drain all of the juices from the cavity and under the skin into the roasting pan. Return the chicken to your platter and place in a warm spot to rest while you finish the gravy.
Remove any remaining fat from the drippings in the roasting pan. Add any drippings that might have accumulated under the resting chicken to the roasting pan. Heat the roasting pan over medium high heat. Add a bit of stock, water, or wine to the pan. Scrape and stir the bottom of the pan as it heats to loosen and dissolve the browned bits. Use this liquid gold as you desire: add it to your gravy, add several tablespoons to vinaigrette for chicken salad, or stir it into risotto or noodles. Don’t waste a drop!
*Our favorite chicken is Empire Kosher. I can buy it locally at Trader Joe’s, Giant, or Safeway. It is our everyday, workhorse chicken because it’s succulent and delicious. More expensive, but also delicious, are pastured chickens. I can buy them directly from farmers at my local farm markets and at our local Whole Foods. My third choice are organic supermarket chickens. In my opinion, the flavor of these birds (at least the ones available to me) isn’t very good. You can check what’s available in your area. Miller Amish chickens, available in NW Ohio, for instance, are fantastic.