How To Roast A Whole Chicken
When it comes to investing the time and energy into roasting a whole chicken, the only regret I’ve ever had is that I didn’t roast two! It never fails. If I roast only one, there aren’t nearly as many leftovers as I hoped. That leftover roast chicken is precious. There are countless casseroles, soups and sandwiches that are so much easier when the chicken is already cooked. Homemade chicken stock is so much better than what you can buy in the store. And let’s not forget the number one reason to roast a second bird: it doubles your chances of getting a drumstick!
Choose Your Seasonings
It is always fun to try different seasoning combinations to add variety to the table. Two of our favorite seasoning blends for chicken are tequila-lime and Cajun. More often than not, though, I will keep it quite simple so the leftovers can be used for any recipe. Salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon, garlic, celery, onion, and bay leaf add lots of flavor without overwhelming the chicken.
Prepare The Chicken
Preheat the oven to 400°. 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, two quarters of a lemon and two quarters of an onion. 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 teaspoon of pepper on the outside of the chicken. Place chicken(s) on rack or in pan, breast side down. Place 3-4 whole, peeled garlic cloves in the bottom of the pan along with the rest of the lemon, onion, celery and another bay leaf. If roasting on a rack, pour one cup of chicken broth, water or beer in the bottom of each pan.
Choose A Pan
If you have a roasting pan and rack, great! Use it. A rack is helpful, but not required. By using a rack, you keep the chicken above the drippings so more of the skin will be crisp. If you don’t have a rack, placing extra vegetables (like carrots, celery and onions) in the bottom of the pan will help keep the chicken elevated.
It is important to understand that the vegetables in the bottom of the pan will absorb the drippings from the chicken. If you are planning to use the drippings for gravy, place only a few vegetables around the chicken for flavoring.
A 9″x 13″ pan will work if you do not have a roasting pan. To roast two chickens, put them in separate pans. Crowding the chicken keeps it from browning properly.
Spray the pan(s) (and the rack, if using) with non-stick spray to make clean-up easier.
Place pan(s) in the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, flip chicken over and return to oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and bake for another 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 reads 165°F. Transfer chicken to a serving plate and allow meat to rest at least five minutes before serving.
You may not feel like doing more work but the effort will benefit you in the 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! 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! 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.
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 repurpose the leftover chicken? Click here.
My favorite way to use those leftovers? Click here.