April 21, 2012

Oven Roasted Chicken Perfected

About a year ago, I posted a recipe for what I found to be the simplest roasted chicken recipe I have made.  Recently I roasted a chicken for my family that was just as simple to prepare, but with even better results.  The basics of the recipe remain, the only real difference was that I replaced the dutch oven with a 12 inch cast iron skillet and tied the legs together.  In the end, it wound up taking less time to roast, the meat was just as tender, and it had a crisper skin. 

About 30 minutes after putting the chicken in the oven, I put a pan of quartered potatoes in to roast on another rack.  They were finished at the same time I was slicing the chicken and ready to serve. 

Oven Roasted Chicken Perfected

Serves 4

1 whole roasting chicken, preferably organic and free of antibiotics and hormones
1 onion, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
5 cloves garlic
10-12 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  kitchen twine
  12 inch cast iron skillet

If you do not have a cast iron pan, use a heavy gauge stainless steel or enamel coated cast iron saute pan. 


Heat the oven to 425 F.

Put the chicken directly into the cast iron pan.  There is no need to dirty a cutting board.  Reach into the cavity of the bird to be sure that all of the innards are removed.  You can have your butcher do this for you to save time.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and lemon zest.  Use your hands to massage the mixture between the skin and the breast of the chicken.  You might have to break through membranes to get your hand in there.  Be careful not to tear the skin.  Rub the remaining oil inside the cavity of the bird and all over the skin.

Generously sprinkle inside the cavity and the exterior of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the onion, garlic, lemon, and herbs.

Cut a 10-12 inch piece of kitchen twine.  Hold the legs of the chicken together and tie them tightly.  This will help the bird cook more evenly and avoid overcooked legs as well as hold in the juices.  Turn and tuck the wings in beneath the chicken.  Check to possibly rub a touch more salt, pepper, or olive oil over the top of the chicken and put it into the preheated oven.

After about 30 minutes, slide the rack from the oven and use a large serving spoon to basted the chicken with the pan juices.  Repeat 2-3 more times over the next 45-60 minutes until the chicken is done.

Use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature of the chicken after it has been cooking for an hour.  The best place to insert the thermometer is the area between the breast and the leg.  Depending on the size, it should take between 60-90 minutes to be thoroughly cooked.

Remove from the oven.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Transfer to a carving board.  Slice and serve.

Categories: Poultry