Though my mother was an excellent cook, I never had a whole roast chicken until I was an adult. I started with the rotisserie variety, usually bought at my local grocery as a payday treat for Friday dinner and a soup base for Saturday lunch. Then my husband started roasting chickens for me, and I became hooked. I understand why Jeffrey Garten wants one for dinner every Friday. If you do it right it’s velvety and succulent with skin that’s a cross between bacon and a potato chip, the perfect balm after a long work week.
For the past several years my husband and I have been perfecting several variations on a roast chicken and I love all of them. Here are two favorites.
For both versions, set the oven to 400 degrees and put one whole average size chicken, rinsed and dried, into some kind of a roasting pan and roast it for 75 to 90 minutes. You will know it’s done if, when you poke a fork into the meatiest part of the thigh, the juices run out clear. If the juices are pinkish, give it at least 15 more minutes.
If you roast it upside down until the last 15 minutes, the breasts will stay tender bathed in their own juices and the skin on the thighs will crisp up nicely. Roasted on a bed of veggies, you have an instant side. If carbs are your thing, set it on a thick slab of crusty bread or some chopped up potatoes. If the crispy skin is your favorite part, roast it on a rack over a pan.
When the bird comes out of the oven, let it rest under foil for at least 20 minutes. It’ll be maddening to have to wait with the scent of roasted yardbird perfuming the air, but it’ll be worth it.
easy-peasy lemon squeezy
stuff the chicken cavity with:
1 whole lemon, quartered
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 head of garlic, cut in half across the cloves
5-10 parsley stems
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Drizzle the skin with olive oil, give the bird a massage and sprinkle it with salt and pepper before you pop it in the oven.
slather the skin with a mixture of:
2 T. olive oil
3 T. biryani spice
liberally salt and pepper the interior OR
stuff the bird with some leftover biryani (see recipe for Iraqi-style hamburger helper)