Nothing says simple home cooking like roasting a whole chicken for dinner. It’s succulent, juicy, and full of flavor. Although it is hard to mess up, there are ways to change it up and make it even better. Try out different techniques and flavor profiles until you find the one you like best.
Simple. Simply dry the chicken well, season generously with salt and pepper, truss it, and roast in a very hot oven. If you do not dry the chicken thoroughly, it will cause steam, which can dry out the meat and not allow the skin to get crispy.
Classic Rustic. For a beautiful, rustic presentation, stuff the bird with fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme, lemon and garlic. Truss the bird and roast on a bed of roughly chopped chunks of vegetables. Serve chicken with vegetables on the side.
The Fussy Chicken. Coming from classic French cooking techniques, the fussy chicken has more steps and ingredients. Vegetables need to be prepped and cooked before stuffing inside and the chicken, which needs to be basted a couple times, but the skin will be crispy and the meat will be savory and full of flavor.
Butterflied. To prevent the breast meat, which is leaner than the dark, from drying out, butterfly a whole chicken by cutting out the backbone and laying it flat. This can help the meat cook at the same rate. I like this technique for grilling a whole chicken.
Extra Crispy. Place herbs under the skin, season liberally all over with salt, then let it sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours. Cook in a very hot cast-iron skillet in the oven on a high temperature to get a very crispy skin.
Extra Flavor. If you want to change it up, replace the traditional lemon, fresh herbs, and garlic with other ingredients like spice rubs with dried herbs and paprika or za’atar, bread stuffings with mushrooms or sausage, or glaze with honey mustard or maple syrup and balsamic vinegar.
The All-In-One. Fill the cavity of the chicken with herbs, lemon, and garlic, spread butter substitute or olive oil all over the skin to get it crispy, and roast on a bed of veggies or onions instead of a roasting rack. Make sure to grease the pan generously with oil before placing onions on top to prevent them from burning during roasting.
Simple Roast Chicken
2-3 lb whole chicken, cleaned
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
Let your chicken come to room temperature for about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pat the chicken dry inside and out thoroughly with paper towels. Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Using kitchen twine, truss the chicken as follows:
Lay chicken on cutting board, breast side up with legs facing away. Put center of a long piece of twine under the tail end and grab legs of drumsticks with the string as you pull. Cross and loop twine under opposite legs, then pull to tighten and bring legs together. Flip chicken over and bring twine around sides, tucking wings in. Tie twine tightly in a knot at the neck to secure wings. Flip chicken back over when finished.
Season outside chicken all over with about 1 Tbsp salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan and roast for 50-60 minutes, no need to flip or baste until done. Add thyme to pan and baste chicken with pan juices. Let rest 15 minutes before removing twine. Carve chicken and serve with simple salad.
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