90 minutes
serves 4
A simple roast chicken is one of the easiest meals to cook, and one of the best. Don't bother with trussing or even stuffing - shove some herbs and aromatics into the chicken and stick it in the oven. You'll be happy with the result.
  • 1 whole roasting chicken, about 4 lbs
  • small handful fresh herbs of your choice: rosemary, thyme, or sage are my favorites
  • 1 aromatic of your choice: lemon, small onion
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil for slathering

There are all sorts of recipes for roast chicken. This is one of the easiest ever: a simple roast chicken without fuss or bother. Just add flavor to the inside, oil the outside, and roast it in the oven.

 

preparation

Heat oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Select the herb(s) and aromatics you’ll use according to your taste and what’s handy in your pantry. Rosemary and lemon is a classic combination, but play around, because there are many wonderful herbs you can use. The aromatics – lemon or onion – are there to bring both flavor and moisture to the center of the bird while it roasts, infusing it with flavor.

Remove the neck and/or giblets that have been stuffed into the chicken; we won’t use them this time. Don’t rinse the chicken in your sink or anywhere else. Just drain any liquid that has accumulated in the cavity, or if you prefer, sop it up with a paper towel and discard it.

 

salt, herbs, and aromatics go inside the bird

Now sprinkle the salt around the inside of the cavity: I aim a spoon in there and just shake it around. Stick in some fresh herbs – for rosemary, I use 2 or 3 3-inch branches; for sage, a little bundle of 5-6 leaves. Chop your aromatic roughly, in 1 to 1.5 inch chunks, and stuff those in there too. Don’t worry about being tidy: it’s there to boost flavor, and nobody will see this stuff.

 

put the bird in a pan and oil it

Set the chicken on its back in a low sided pan. You might choose to use a roasting rack, though I like to cross its little wings under its ‘shoulders’ to make a nice platform.  I never truss the bird, but if you like to do it, go ahead.

Take a handful of oil and slather the bird as if you were smoothing on suntan oil. Actually, in a way, you’re doing just that: the oil will help the skin get nice and brown.

 

roast undisturbed

Roast the chicken, uncovered, for about an hour and 15 minutes. Now you have plenty of time to prepare the other parts of your dinner, set the table, and even drink a little glass of something nice.

 

test for doneness

After an hour or so, begin checking if the chicken is completely done. You can stick the tip of a small knife into the thigh, and if the juices run clear, it’s ready. An instant-read thermometer gives a precise temperature. Insert it into the thickest part of the thigh, but not near bone or fat, and look for a reading of 165. My shortcut test: ‘shake hands’ with the drumstick. If the bone comes right off, the chicken is done!

Remove from the oven, and let the chicken stand 10 minutes. Discard aromatics and herbs, carve, and serve.

 

cook’s tip

Save the skin and bones! In my next post, I’ll let you know how to produce liquid gold from what some people think of as garbage.

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