My mother always makes the absolute BEST roast chicken....so over the years, I have tried to duplicate her perfectly roasted, nicely seasoned and juicy roasted whole chicken. I think I have finally come close to competing with my mother's bird.
One of her secrets is to stuff the birds cavity with assorted goodies. I like to stuff in a smashed garlic clove or two, some coarsely cut up onion, a quarter of a lemon ( squeezed ), LOTS of salt and pepper, and a handful of fresh parsley. I like to tie the legs together with string to help keep the shape for uniform roasting as well as hold in all the flavor goodies while the bird bakes. My mom always pulls back the skin from the breast meat and inserts seasonings and BUTTER...yup, butter. The butter is the key to keeping the breast meat moist. Lastly, don't skimp on the seasonings. I like to use a mix that leaves the skin looking like it came off a rotisserie at the grocery store. My mix includes plenty of salt and fresh ground pepper. My mom roasts her chicken in a 350 degree oven, but I prefer roasting it in a higher oven, 425 degrees F. This helps the skin brown and get a bit crispy...even though I don't eat it. We do eat with our eyes first, right?
When I do make roast chicken, I generally make two at a time. Why? Well, it isn't that much more work to make two, my roasting pan can fit two three to three and a half pounders side-by-side without a problem, and then I have extra meat to make other things like Chicken Zucchini Enchiladas or Waldorf Style Chicken Salad later in the week.
Making a roast chicken is so super easy. Most of the work is in the prep. You will need a few pieces of equipment to pull of the perfect roasted chicken though...a nice sized roasting pan with a rack and an instant read thermometer. But other than that, it's just get the bird ready and pop it in the oven...no basting or bothering after that. Be sure to let your bird(s) sit for at least 15 minutes loosely covered with foil when you take them out of the oven before carving, to allow the juices to go back into the meat.
Perfect Roast Chicken
Servings - approx. 6 - 8 per bird Serving size - 3 oz. cooked white meat, no skin, no bone OR 3 oz. dark meat, no skin with bone Points Plus per serving - 3 points+
For spice rub: ( amounts for one bird, double if making two)
(It's best to make the spice rub before you even start to work with the chicken)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 TBS. brown sugar
1 TBS. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp, dried rosemary
1. Combine all spice rub ingredients in small bowl. Set aside.
For Chicken: ( amounts for one bird, double if making two)
1-3 to 3 1/2 pound whole chicken, giblet package removed, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
2 TBS. unsalted butter, cut thinly into 4 squares
Spice rub ( above)
salt and pepper ( for cavity)
1/2 small onion, coarsely chopped into 2 or 3 pcs
1 - 2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 of a fresh lemon
handful of fresh parsley
pc of kitchen twine or string to truss the legs together
nonstick cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray roaster and rack with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Season cavity of prepared chicken generously with salt and pepper. With fingers, gently separate the breast skin from the meat to make a pocket. Rub some of the spice rub inside the pocket and insert the butter, 2 pcs per side. Insert into cavity, the garlic, onion, and then squeeze the lemon inside the cavity and on top of the bird, and pop into cavity. Stuff in the parsley. Truss the legs together with string.
3. Massage the rest of the spice rub all over the outside skin of the chicken. Spray with cooking spray.
4. Roast in 425 degree oven for approx. 20-25 minutes per pound. ( If roasting two birds, just account for the time as if you were roasting one) Check for doneness by inserting instant read thermometer into thickest part of thigh. If it reads 165 degrees F, it's ready to come out. Let rest, loosely covered in foil, for 15 - 20 minutes. ( this will allow the internal temp to increase to around 170 as well)
5. Remove string on legs, carve and enjoy!
I am not sure why, but many people seem to be intimidated by making whole meats or large roasts. Really, in my opinion, they are actually easier to make than to deal with individual cuts. Yes, I will admit, it took me some time to perfect the roasted chicken...but it is one thing I make time and time again because if you make two at a time, the extra meat is so versatile. And although I have never been that thrifty, I hear you can take the leftover carcass and make a stock from it as well.
How about you? do you like to cook large roasts and whole birds or are you intimidated by them?
Looking for more healthy classic chicken recipes? Check out these: