Simple and classically delicious. The roast chicken should be in everyone’s repertoire. What else do I need to say? So today, I’m just sticking to the basics: the recipe and some tips. Roast chicken is deceptively easy to make. But the key word here is “deceptively.”
If you’ve been here before, you’ll know that I have a “My tips for this dish” section. They’re the notes that I thought of about ingredient sourcing, preparation and/or difficulties while making the actual dish. They’re in the trenches tips from someone who has been there. Take it or leave it, they’re just notes on my experience. Usually, this comes after the recipe. But in this case, I’m going to put it first. That’s how important these tips are to the success of the dish. Take them.
- Rinse and pat dry the chicken, inside and out.
- Bring the chicken to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Generously season the cavity with pepper, salt and herbs.
- Stuff the cavity with some onion wedges and carrots. Don’t overstuff so that it will not be able to be trussed. If there are left over onion and carrot pieces, scatter them around the chicken on the pan.
- Truss the chicken.
- Liberally season the outside of the chicken with salt, pepper and herbs.
- Place the chicken into a cast iron skillet or pan.
- Roast until done, about 50-60min or until the temperature of the thigh registers 150-165F using a meat thermometer.
- Allot the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. Cover it with foil to keep warm.
- Serve with pan drippings.
The difference between a soggy-skinned, and dry roast chicken and a deliciously crispy skinned, moist bird? The temperature of the chicken before it’s put into the oven. You must (1) pat dry the skin of the chicken inside and out and (2) temper the chicken, meaning bring it to room temperature, before it’s roasted. Why these two steps? (1) Drying the skin removes excess moisture that will cause the skin to be soft and soggy. (2) If you place the chicken directly from the fridge into the preheated oven, the oven for at least half of the roasting time is simply trying to bring up the temperature of the cold bird. Roasting it this way will cause the meat to cook unevenly. Some parts will cook faster than others. Your chicken will be dry. For a small bird, tempering will take 45min – 1 hour. So plan ahead. If there is anything you remember from this post, remember these two tips.
Sea salt (versus table salt) works better in achieving a crispy skin. Don’t be afraid to salt liberally. In the pictures, you can see the pieces of sea salt. I used a lot. I used about 1 tablespoon. When salting, rain the salt over the bird. If you pinch the salt when salting, it will cause some of the salt pieces to stick together. Raining it helps it separate as it falls. It will create a nice, even layer of salt over the skin.
It’s not the end of your dish if you forget to truss the bird. But it trussing it makes the meat more compact and allows it to cook more evenly. Presentation-wise, you get bonus points. And it can also make carving easier. How to truss a bird? You’ll need a few feet of kitchen twine (3-4 times the length of the bird) first. Steps? (1) With the breast-side up and tail/drumsticks pointing toward you, hold one end of twine in each hand, center the twine and run the mid-point under the neck of the chicken and pass it over the crevice of the drumstick (where the drumstick meets the body) and then pass each end of the twine under the bone area of the drumstick. (2) Cross the ends of the twine and pull so that the drumsticks pull together tightly. (3) Keeping the legs pulled tightly together, wrap one end of the twine all the way around the tail end and tie securely with the other end of the twine. (4) Snip off any long ends. Remember to truss the bird after you have stuffed it.
When it’s roasting in the oven, I leave it alone. I don’t baste it or put butter under the skin. These actions create steam, which I don’t want. The skin will absorb the steam and moisture and become soggy. I want the oven to stay dry so that the skin can get crispy. If you do it right, you don’t need basting and buttering to make the meat moist.
Remember to save the carcass of the roasted bird! It’s great for making chicken stock. It’s even better if you leave some meat on the bone. The day after, I made chicken soup using the carcass and some reserved meat.
As reference, the bird I made was 3.29 lb. and roasted for 50-55min.