Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: A little over an hour | Serves 4 - 6
This recipe is from Uncomplicated: Taking the Stress Out of Home Cooking (Penguin, 2018). I demonstrated it on Cityline on October 3, 2018. Photography by Suech & Beck © 2018. Reprinted by permission.
Few dishes say “I’m an accomplished cook” more than a roast chicken. It’s also one of those deceptively simple-sounding dishes that actually needs some reverse engineering in order to get it just right. I struggled with roast chicken for years, until I met my partner, Michael, who has been perfecting the art of roast chicken his entire life. His method, in which the bird isn’t fully-trussed or stuffed, captures everything I love about uncomplicated cooking: it’s fast, smart, easy and delicious. Between this chicken and Michael’s duck-fat-roasted potatoes, I was head over heels.
Some helpful tips I've learned:
Buy a high quality chicken. It’s easy to make a good chicken taste great. Try local small butchers.
If time allows, put the chicken in a shallow pan and let it sit uncovered in the fridge for up to 24 hours. This lets the outside of the chicken dry, which leads to golden, crispy skin. (No time? Dry the chicken with paper towels like your life depends on it. Don’t forget the back and the cavity.)
After cooking, let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes and as much as an hour before carving. Even if you don’t follow any of the other secrets to success, follow this one—it’s a game changer!
If you start carving the chicken and you realize that it’s not quite cooked, don’t worry. Cut off the legs and then cut the chicken in half through the breast bone. Place the pieces skin side up in a large frying pan and add all the juices from the baking sheet. Cook over medium-high heat 3 to 7 minutes or until cooked through.
Save the bones in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer for up to 2 months. Use them for chicken stock.
Weekday Roast Chicken
1 best-quality whole chicken (about 3¼ pounds/1.5 kg)
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon salt
Handful fresh parsley or thyme sprigs (optional)
½ lemon (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the chicken breast side up on a rack on a rimmed baking sheet. (The rack isn’t necessary, but it helps the chicken cook more evenly; if you don’t have one that fits, just place the chicken directly on the baking sheet.) If the chicken came trussed, cut off and remove the twine.
Pour the canola oil over the chicken and use your hands or a brush to spread it evenly all over the breast, legs and wings. Sprinkle the whole bird with salt, paying particular attention to the wings. (You can also season all over with fresh black pepper, if you like.) Stuff the parsley or thyme and lemon (if using) into the cavity. Tie the legs together with twine if you like.
Roast 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and roast another 45 to 55 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the skin is deeply golden and slightly crisp. If you poke a sharp knife into the meatiest bit of the thigh, the juices that run out should be clear and not pink. The temperature of the bird (taken in the fleshiest part of the thigh, without touching the bone) should be 175°F.
Remove the bird from the oven and let it rest 15 minutes before carving. Serve drizzled with the juices from the baking sheet.