One of my goals this year is to eat more real food; food free of processing and artificial junk. That’s why I love roast chicken. There isn’t a meal that’s more wholesome and simple but still deliciously satisfying.
It’s also economical, and leftovers are great for chicken soup, on top of salads or as shredded chicken in a fajita. Roast one of these on a Sunday and you’ve got meals for the week.
But I’ve made a lot of roasting mistakes over the years, and it’s taken me a little time to get to the point where I can whip a chicken up without a thought. My favorite recipe is Ina Garten aka The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for “perfect roast chicken“. And it is perfect, really. I haven’t changed any of the ingredients, only the order of the steps. Touching raw chicken is gross and it’s a pain to wash your hands a million times, so for the sake of time and convenience I’ve laid out simple step by step instructions with some tips I learned the hard way.
- 5-6 lb chicken
- 1/2 bag baby carrots
- 1 onion, sliced thickly
- 1 clove of garlic, sliced in half crosswise
- 1 bulb of fennel, cut into wedges **Fennel is sometimes labeled as ANISE at supermarkets. Don’t skip this ingredient!
- 1 lemon, sliced in half
- thyme **super important, don’t skip this!
- olive oil
- 2 tb of butter
- salt and pepper
STEP 1. It’s easier to do the chopping and prepping first and then you can move like lightning when you’re dealing with the raw chicken. So for starters, pour salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside. Melt 2 tbsp of butter and put this to the side as well. Slice lemon in half, cut garlic in half horizontally and save with some thyme to use later.
STEP 2: Slice the onion and the bulb of the fennel in wedges. (You’re just using the white bulb of the fennel, not the green top part.) Place these veggies and the carrots in the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour olive oil over them, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Throw in some sprigs of fennel.
STEP 3: Wash the chicken and pat it dry. You might have excess fat to cut off, and make sure to pull out any pin feathers that may still be left on it.
STEP 4: Next, sprinkle salt and pepper in the cavity. Take the lemon, garlic and thyme you put aside earlier. Stuff these in the cavity of the chicken.
STEP 5: Brush the melted butter over the chicken. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over.
STEP 6: Truss the chicken. To do that, just tuck its little wings back. Then tie the legs together with twine. (If you don’t have twine, just improvise something to hold them together.) Trussing helps the bird cook more evenly, prevents the wings from burning, and makes the breast more juicy. But if this step intimidates you, it’s okay to skip. It will still taste fine.
STEP 7: Pop it in the oven, breast side up, for an hour and half. You’ll know it’s done when the juices run clear when you cut it into it.
STEP 8: After taking it out, let it rest for 20 minutes, covered in tin foil. Then voila! You’re done.
By now you’ve filled your home with the most heavenly and comforting aroma. What follows is a healthy, mouth-watering dish that will impress not just guests, but your own, chicken-roasting pro self.