The Humble Yet Glorious Roast Chicken

From the mightiest pharaoh to the lowliest peasant – everyone enjoys a good roast chicken. As ubiquitous as they are cheap it’s time to start making your own.

Pre-roasted store boughts can be cheap, quick and yes, even delicious but there is something satisfying about roasting your own during a winter Sunday.

Shopping List:

  • Whole roasting chicken
  • 2 onions
  • 2 lemons
  • Butter
  • Carrots
  • Rosemary
  • Celery
  • salt
  • Butchers twine

Other stuff

  • Dutch oven
  • Regular oven turned to 400

le creuset dutch oven

For roasting a chicken, I turn to my Dutch Oven – my most versatile piece of kitchen equipment outside of a fork. I like to keep the Dutch in the oven as it is warming up – this creates a nice evenly heated oven to put in your oven. If you don’t have a Dutch, go buy one, but for now you can use any roasting pan.

Before you get started with all of the bird work, why not put out a charcuterie board for you and your guests. Something to nibble on while the bird is worked on and cooked - as the process from start to finish can take almost two hours.

charcuterie board

Prepping your bird.

Pull out and set aside whatever sack may be hiding inside. Next quarter one of the lemons and one of the onions and stuff it inside along with a sprig or two of rosemary and some of the celery. Next slightly melt the butter in your microwave and as it is solidifying finely chop up some of the rosemary and add it to the butter. Then carefully separate the skin from the flesh and rub your butter/rosemary mixture under the skin. Try to go as far in as you can without breaking the skin.

Once that is done you can salt the outside – and go ahead and salt the hell out of it. Salting the skin, rather than slathering the butter on it will draw out more of the moisture and make the skin all crispy delicious.  Also – leave that bird uncovered – do not cover the bird in the oven, leaving its skin exposed to the heat will go far in crisping it up.

Now its time to plug the opening with the other lemon. Sticking this at the end and then trussing it up with some butchers twine will seal in the moisture and almost steam it from the inside. The effect of steaming from the inside combined with the butter under the skin and the salt on the outside – well, just trust me.

Hopefully you have your oven already set to 400 and your dutch has been warming up along with it. Take it out, or using your roasting pan add in the carrots, other onion (sliced up) and some celery on the bottom of the pan. Place your chicken on top of that as almost like a rack above the bottom itself.

Now depending on your oven, your altitude and attitude, which way the wind is blowing and how big your bird is this can take anywhere from an hour to two hours. Your friend at this point is a glass of wine, a thermometer and prepping sides (I like garlic smashed potatoes).

The ideal temp of chicken is 165. One thing to be careful of when taking your new friends temperature. Be sure to stick your thermometer in the thickest meat to get an accurate reading.  DO NOT, as I have done stick directly in to the center of the bird hitting the lemon. I don’t think the lemon heats up the way chicken does and will give you an inaccurate reading.  Think about going in to the thickest of the thick leg part.

roast chicken in a dutch oven

About an hour in to the roasting process feel free to pull that bad bird out and scoop some of the juices that have begun to drip out back on to the back of the bird – it can only help increase the juiciness.

Once you hit the 165 mark it is OK to take out – if you feel a little bit more safe about letting it go another few minutes – by all means, with the lemon, the butter, the salt, everything else included in these direction it should be tender no matter what.

Let the bird sit for a few minutes before cutting it up. This is the perfect time to finish off whatever side you are making, pouring some more wine, setting the table or turning on dinner music.


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