Monday, May 21, 2012

Basic Skills: How to Roast a Chicken

This past week I spent my time hanging out with little old ladies. These women were eager to share stories of their past, their thoughts on the changes that come with the present, and their opinion on what the future should hold.

They also shared their recipes. 

Which got me thinking.... What should everyone know how to cook? What foods stand the test of time?

I know that "sugar cakes" sure aren't one of them. I tried this old recipe from Grandma Rose (my husband's great grandma). It failed miserably. Mind you I doubled the amount of orange juice - by accident - and used fat-free sour cream - on purpose. They turned out more like sweet biscuits, not at all like the giant sugar cookies my mother-in-law remembered....


Roast a chicken. It's something that everyone can do. And should do. 

Martha's got her take on it. And Thomas Keller even made a video to show you his way.

But really people. It's ridiculously simple.

You need a chicken,

An a oven-safe pan with sides (cast iron skillet, dutch oven, glass 9x13). A lemon, an onion, and a few cloves of garlic.

Clean out the inside of the chicken. There's usually giblets, liver, heart, or other odd internal organs loosely packed in there. Occasionally some plastic bag. Get rid of that. If you see any feathers still left, pick those off too.

Take the lemon and poke it with a fork. All over. Cut the onion in half (or quarters if your chicken is small and your onion is big).

Put the lemon, half of the onion, and a few cloves of garlic inside the chicken.

Place the chicken, breast side up, into the pan. The back is flat and the breast goes up like a little hill. The chicken should be flat on it's back. If you can rock the chicken, flip it over.

Tuck the wing tips under the bird's back.

Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper all over the bird. 

Chunk up the other onion half, add some carrots, toss them all in olive oil too. Place them around the chicken. 

Tie the chicken's legs together with twine.

Put in a 400 degree oven for about an hour and a half. Use a thermometer to make sure the breast temperature is 175 and the thigh temperature is 185. Allow the bird to rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes before cutting. 

Roast Chicken
Serves 4-6

1 whole chicken (5-6 pounds)
1 lemon
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
olive oil
Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. While the oven is preheating, set the chicken on the counter and allow to come to room temperature. 

Open the chicken and remove all the internal organs and other things from the bird's cavity. 

Poke the lemon all over with a fork. Chop the onion in half. Shove the lemon, half (or a quarter, whatever fits) of the onion, and the garlic cloves inside the bird.

Rub the skin of the bird with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tuck the wings under the back of the bird. Tie the legs together with oven-safe twine (you can skip this step if you want - not necessary).

Toss the left over onion chunks with the carrots in a couple tbsps of olive oil. Place around the chicken. 

Cook the bird, uncovered, for an hour and a half. The breast should reach 175 degrees and the thigh should reach 185. Buy a thermometer if you don't have one. It's a useful tool to have.

Let the bird rest for 10-15 minutes once it's out of the oven. This lets all the juices cool a bit so they stay in the meat. 

Slice and serve!

Leftovers can be used for chicken salad, sandwiches, soup, etc.


  1. I'm a little ashamed to admit I've never roasted a chicken, even though its one of my favorite things to eat. Homemade bread and even homemade Ricotta I can do, but roasting a chicken scares me a little. Maybe I will give it a try! Thanks, Megan! Good post, as always.

    1. Thanks! You should totally try it. You'll be amazed at how easy it is. Definitely a go-to recipe for when company comes over. Looks super fancy, but is incredibly simple!

  2. Hello Megan!

    Had this delicious roasted chicken last night for dinner! A new go-to for us. We LOVED it and will joyfully use the left overs in other dishes! Will think of you every time we have this succulent, moist and flavorful chicken! Many thanks!

    1. Hi! So glad you enjoyed it! It's become quite the regular dish on our table too. Try using an orange instead of a lemon next time to add a slightly different flavor. Delicious!