Roast Chicken

Dinner for four … under $10?  Whole roasted chicken, salad, warm bread … let’s say grace!

I bought two of these whole chickens (about 3 pounds each) for $5 a piece at my local meat counter.  I roasted them together for a little more than an hour and a half.  One made it to the table.  The other, and what was left of the first, will be repurposed later this week. Homemade stock (broth), salads, sandwiches, casseroles, soups … it all starts with basic roasting.

Choose a pan:  If you have a roasting pan and rack, great!  Use it.  If you don’t, any 9″x 13″ pan will work.  My roasting pan and rack will hold both chickens without them touching. If you use 9″x13″ pans, use one pan per chicken.  It doesn’t matter if you have a rack either. By using a rack, you keep the chicken up off the drippings so more of the skin will be crisp.  Spray the pan and the rack, if using, with non-stick spray to make clean-up easier.

Choose seasonings:  I like to keep it simple so I can use the leftovers for whatever I want.  Garlic, seasoned salt, pepper, bay leaf.  You could use lemon-onion-parsley … tequila-lime … sage-onion-celery … just make sure you use salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Prepare the chicken(s):  Trim excess fat and skin from the neck and tail ends of the chicken.  Sometimes the chicken will come with the neck and giblets inside the chicken.  If so, remove and either save for another purpose or discard.  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper around the inside cavity and drop in a bay leaf.  Drizzle the outside of the chicken with olive oil and brush or rub to coat the skin.  Sprinkle an additional teaspoon of salt and an additional 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of pepper on the outside of the chicken. Place chicken(s) on rack or in pan, breast side up.  (If I will be near the oven throughout the cooking process, I will start the chicken breast side down and then flip over after 45 minutes.  This helps keep the breast meat juicy.) Place 3-4 whole, peeled garlic cloves in the bottom of the pan.  If roasting on a rack, pour 1 cup of chicken broth (or water … or beer) per chicken into the bottom of the pan.

Roast:  Place pan(s) in the preheated oven.  Bake for an hour and a half (if only making one chicken, check after one hour).  The chicken is done when the juices run clear when a small knife is inserted in the meat, or when a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat (some say the thigh … I test the breast) without touching the bone reads 165°F.   Allow meat to rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

After Dinner: You may not feel like doing more work but the effort will benefit you in days, maybe even weeks, to come.  Don’t throw anything away!  Cut some nice slices of chicken off the leftover bird(s) for sandwiches and/or pull the majority of the meat off the bones and chop into bite-sized pieces for soups, casseroles, or salads (recipes to come)!  If you are not going to use the leftover meat in the next couple days, place in zip-loc bags, seal tightly and freeze.  No need to work too hard to get the meat completely off the bones, as the next step will take care of that … homemade stock/broth!  Just place all the bones, excess skin, less-desirable pieces and any drippings from the roasting pan into a large stock pot and refrigerate until you are ready to make the stock (you will need an hour or two to make this) …

But let’s save that for another day … like, tomorrow?

If you’d like to continue on now to learn how to make stock, click here.

My husband’s favorite way to polish off some of the leftover chicken?  Click here.

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