Favorite Roast Chicken

There are few things that make me more nostalgic than the smell of a chicken roasting on a Sunday afternoon. It was such a staple meal for my family growing up and it’s way easier to make than most people think.

This is my absolute favorite way to roast a chicken, hence why I named it Favorite Roast Chicken. It’s also what I’ll be making for my family on Thanksgiving, because I firmly believe that turkey is overrated. If you need to feed a crowd, simply opt for roasting two or three smaller chickens, which reduces your risk of the bird drying out.

Here are a few of the reasons I love this Favorite Roast Chicken:

  1. You get way more bang for your buck when it comes to the price of meat per pound, especially when compared to buying boneless, skinless, (flavorless) chicken breast.
  2. You can save the bones to make delicious, easy bone broth. It’s great for your gut, filled with protein, and keeps in the freezer for use in everything from homemade soups to Thanksgiving gravy. I love to keep it on hand for pesky winter colds, too.
  3. The flavor can’t be beat. Just trust me on this one.

Ingredients needed to make Favorite Roast Chicken

It goes without saying that you need a whole chicken to make this recipe. The time and temperature for my recipe is specific to a 5-5.5 pound bird. If you happen to find a larger one, you can aim to add an extra 10-15 minutes per 1/2 pound, but check it frequently to ensure you don’t overcook it. I would not recommend a chicken larger than 7-7.5lbs, as I’ve had issues with the breast drying out before the dark meat parts of the bird have finished cooking. In addition to the chicken, you’ll need the following:

  • Butter
  • Fresh winter herbs, such as thyme, sage, or rosemary
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Shallots or yellow onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Tools used to make Favorite Roast Chicken

The tools needed to perfect the roast chicken are so minimal! The most important item is an oven-safe roasting pan or skillet. If I’m just doing one chicken, I’ll opt for my favorite Le Creuset cast iron skillet. If I’m doing two, or a large bird, I’ll use this larger pan by All Clad. You can also use a traditional square or rectangular roasting pan. Whatever you’ve got that fits the chicken and can go in the oven is perfect!

You also need a small microwave-safe bowl to melt the butter, paper towels to pat the chicken dry, a chef’s knife to minced the herbs and carve the chicken once it’s cooked, kitchen twine to truss the legs, a large cutting board, and a meat thermometer. That’s it!

How to make Favorite Roast Chicken

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to actually make a roast chicken. It sounds intimidating, but trust me, it’s not that bad.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll start by melting the butter, giving your herbs a good chop, and roughly chopping the celery, carrot, and shallot. I like to do this before I even touch the chicken, so I limit the amount of times I have to wash my hands. Mix the herbs with the melted butter, and set everything aside right next to your work station.

Remove the chicken from it’s plastic packaging and discard the giblets from the center of the chicken. There may be juices stuck in the cavity that you can go ahead and dump down the drain or into your trash can. Do not rinse the chicken! This causes a mess in your sink and it’s also not necessary.

Bring your chicken over to your work station and pat it dry with paper towels. I like to set up my largest cutting board and make that the raw chicken zone instead of using the countertop, but you should do what works best for you and your own kitchen set up. Tip: line your work station with a layer of paper towel before putting the chicken down, as this helps dry the bottom while you pat the other parts dry.

Make sure the chicken is dry all over, then coat the chicken in the melted butter. You want to get it completely covered, as well as spread some butter underneath the skin of the breast. The skin will easily separate from the breast meat when you run your finger underneath and pull upwards gently, at which point you can spoon a little melted butter inside and spread it around with your fingers.

Next, you’ll “truss” the chicken legs. Trussing is when you tie the legs up against the breast, which helps prevent air from circulating around the breast during the cooking process (which makes for a dry breast) and ensures an even cooking time for all parts of the chicken. It sounds fancy, but it’s super easy to do with a piece of kitchen twine.

Once the chicken is covered in the butter and herb mixture and trussed, wash your hands with soap and dry them well. Using one hand to hold the chicken (your “dirty” hand) and one hand to touch the salt and pepper, season the chicken liberally all over, as well as in the cavity. Use both hands to transfer the chicken to the roasting pan, then stuff the cavity with the celery, carrot, shallot, and whole herb sprigs. Wash your hands, the cutting board, the knife, and anything else that touched raw chicken.

Roast the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees at the deepest part of the breast, and 180 in the thighs. Remove from the oven and tent loosely with aluminum foil, then allow it to rest for 15 minutes or so.

To carve the chicken, you’ll want to transfer it to a large cutting board. You’ll begin by removing the wings, which should easily pop off without much pressure being applied. Next, to remove the leg and thigh, cut between the breast and the leg, turning the knife inward and downward to remove them in one piece. To remove the breast, start at the center of the bird and cut down along the breast bone, turning the knife outward as you cut downward. Then, slice the breast against the grain. Plate all the pieces on a serving platter, and surround the chicken with the pieces of vegetable that were in the cavity. You may also garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.

If preparing or carving the chicken sounds scary to you, you can always feel free to leave a comment or DM me on Instagram and I’d be happy to help you. I’m also planning to host a Zoom class all about roasting a chicken that will take you through the process step-by-step in a small group setting. More information on this class is available on my Instagram, @theardentcook.

Recipe Ingredients

One 5-5½ pound whole chicken

3 tbsp salted butter, melted

1 bunch whole fresh herbs, such as sage, rosemary, or thyme

1 large carrot, roughly chopped

2 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 medium shallot, halved

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Finely chop roughly 2 tbsp of the herbs and add to the melted butter. Leave the rest of the herbs whole.
  3. Remove the giblets and pat the chicken dry. Rub all over with the melted butter and herb mixture, getting some butter underneath the skin of the breasts as well. Season the chicken and the cavity liberally with salt and pepper, then truss the legs using kitchen twine.
  4. Transfer to the roasting pan and stuff the cavity with the carrot, celery, shallot, and the remaining bunch of herbs. Roast for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit and the thigh reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven and tent lightly with aluminum foil. Allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes before carving. To reheat, place skin-on chicken in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. For breast, reheat in a shallow pan with 1/2 inch of chicken stock or gravy to retain moisture. Enjoy!
  6. BONUS: For a quick chicken gravy, pour off all but 5 tbsp of pain drippings from the same pan you roasted the chicken in. Heat drippings on the stove over medium heat, then whisk in 4 tbsp of all-purpose flour to create a roux. Let the roux bubble for 1-2 minutes, until the raw flour taste is cooked out and the roux has browned nicely. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 1/2 cup dry white wine, making sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then return to the heat. Add 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme to the pan. Once the wine has cooked off, about 3-4 minutes, slowly whisk in 2-3 cups chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time. Once the gravy has thickened, add in the next 1/2 cup, and so on, until all of the stock is incorporated and gravy has thickened to your liking. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

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