Sunday How-To: Roasting a Chicken

For the next few weeks, What's for Dinner will have a Sunday How-To series, starting with one of my most frequently asked questions: How the heck do you roast a whole chicken? Or, rather, more accurately, how do you have the time to roast a whole chicken? Isn't it hard? Doesn't' it take a lot of time?

Hopefully, this will help many of you out, and you can absolutely extrapolate ($100 word there!) this how-to into your Thanksgiving turkey roasting too.

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First and foremost, gather your supplies. Many cook books and magazines say that in order to roast a whole chicken, you need fancy things like a roasting rack, cotton string, a big giant roasting pan, convection oven, company of a celebrity, you get the idea.

Really, you need the following:

  • Roasting chicken (not a fryer, but it'll do)
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder (optional)
  • herbes de provence
  • kosher salt (or any salt)
  • aluminum foil
  • pan big enough for your chicken
  • an oven
  • Kitchen bouquet (or other gravy browning sauce)

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Step 1: Prepare your roasting pan

Take a long length of aluminum foil, scrunch it up into a snake, then bend it into a circle that is slightly smaller than the bottom of the chicken.

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Step 2: Pre-heat your oven

With the rack set in the middle, pre-heat your oven to 425°F.

Step 3: Clean the chicken

Generally, I go for a hormone-free chicken, but not necessarily organic. I know, I know, it's not "the best" but honestly, the cost isn't worth it to me. I go hormone free, cage-free, etc, but certified organic isn't cost effective. But, no matter what kind of chicken you get, you'll need to remove the wrapping, take the bag of giblets out of the cavity, and rinse it thoroughly inside and out.

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Step 4: Season and stuff

Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken generously with herbes de Provence and kosher salt. Then, shove as many pieces of onion and lemon as you can fit into the cavity. I generally get herbes de Provence everywhere in the process… but that's me.

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Step 5: Season the outside

Drizzle olive oil over the outside of the chicken. Gently rub it in, and then generously sprinkle with herbes de Provence, kosher salt, and garlic powder (if you're using it)

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Step 5: Prepare to roast!

At this point, I remove any plastic auto-doneness-testers as I don't trust them. I have one of these handy-dandy thermometers that stays in the meat while an external digital display tells me the temperature. If you don't have one of those, an insta-read thermometer will do. Just test at 30 minute intervals.

This is where many recipes tell you to tie up the legs, place the chicken on a rack, and foil-tip the wings. Forget that. It's not necessary.

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Notice that the internal temperature is only 42°F!

At this point, if you have any extra onion pieces, place them at the bottom of the pan.

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Step 6: Seal in the juices/crisp the skin

There are different schools of thought on this, but after much experimentation, I like what this next step does. Place the chicken into your pre-heated to 425°F oven. Roast for about 15 minutes at this temperature, which crisps the skin and seals in a lot of the juices.

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Step 7: Roast away!

Turn the oven temperature down to 350°F.

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Roast until the internal temperature reads 160°F then remove it from the oven. Allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes as it will continue cooking. Remove to a cutting board, then use this video tutorial for help on carving it.

To be honest, I don't follow this when I carve it. I kind of hack at it and then make stock with the remains. The chicken is always perfectly cooked, super-juicy, and delicious. We'll usually eat it plain one day, then the leftovers will be used in a variety of chicken dishes. Or on sandwiches. Or eaten cold straight out of the fridge.

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Please let me know how it goes if you try it out!

What other how-to tutorials would you like to see?



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9 Responses to Sunday How-To: Roasting a Chicken

  1. Sarah says:

    I would love to see a tutorial on how to bake yeast sandwich bread. I do everything I’m supposed to and my bread still comes out too dense. :-/

  2. Marianne says:

    I feel like this tutorial is made for me. I’ve never roasted a chicken (or turkey, or any other fowl for that matter) before. Mostly because I get creeped out touching chicken/turkey skin. I should just buy gloves and get over it, right? Because I do love me some roasted chicken 🙂
    Marianne´s last blog post ..Pumpkin Coconut Corn Chowder

  3. Jennifer says:

    So I can do my turkey the same way? With the foil? And I should start with the mega high temp roasting blast for the first 15 minutes? Don’t wanna mess it up.

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