If you learn how to roast a whole chicken, you will have lots of meal options open up. There are lots of ways to roast a chicken. You can vary the cooking times and temperature, stuff it or not, rub butter under or over the skin, sprinkle various herbs on it or in it. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Flavoring the Chicken for Roasting
Inside the chicken you can add one or more of the following depending on what’s in your kitchen and what you’re serving with the chicken. Try one or more of the following:
- 1/2 an onion, either in one piece or cut in chunks
- 1/2 a lemon or orange, quartered
- a carrot
- a piece of celery
- sprigs of rosemary
- sprigs of thyme
- a few cloves of garlic
- salt and pepper for sure
You want something on the skin of the chicken. The easiest way is to just rub some olive oil on it, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. You could stop right there and have great chicken.
You could also saute some butter, garlic cloves, and lemon juice and then just pour this over the chicken. I usually sprinkle one or two of the following:
- salt and pepper
If you want to get fancy, marinate the chicken before roasting it. The 1 gallon zipper bags work nicely for that. Here’s one option for a marinade.
- 1 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup lemon juice (and reserve the rinds for inside)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
Selecting a Temperature and Time
Scan a few recipes and you’ll see that the temperatures and cooking times can vary quite a bit. That means you can pretty easily adjust them so you can bake a few other things at the same time. So either pick the time you want or the temperature. Check the chicken with a meat thermometer to make sure it’s done until you get the hang of how it feels. The point between the thigh and the body should register 165. For the size of chicken I usually find at the supermarket, about 2-4 pounds, you can use the following guidelines but you need to vary according to the size of the chicken:
- 300: about 2 to 3 hours
- 325: about 2 to 2 1/2 hours
- 350: about 1 to 2 hours
- 400: about 1 to 1 1/2 hours
- 450: about 1 hour
I put my chicken breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan to keep it from sitting in its juices. I never truss it (tie up the wings and legs.) You can of course, start at one temperature and then raise or lower at the end to accommodate another more picky recipe. I like my roast chicken to be nearly falling off the bone. To keep the chicken moist, try to baste every now and then with the pan juices. If you don’t have any pan juice, start with some chicken broth or even just plain water or put a pat of butter on the top of the chicken and let it melt down. Add some water to the bottom of your pan and then use that to baste with if need be.
Serving the Roast Chicken
Once your bird is done, take it out of the oven and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
My carving techniques leave something to be desired but the chicken always tastes good. You can get some directions for carving a chicken in this video from Jamie Oliver.
Stretch that Chicken
Save the bones and make your own chicken broth.
Use any leftover chicken to make things like:
- chicken salad
- chicken curry sandwich
- chicken enchiladas
- chicken soup with rice
- Mexican-inspired chicken soup
- cold sesame noodles with chicken and cucumber