There are so many ways to roast a chicken that one could almost argue that there is no wrong way to do it. You can roast it at 350 the whole time. You can start it high and end low. You can cook it on high heat the whole time. You can flip it, or, not. You can gently place garlic and herbs under the skin. You can stuff citrus and herbs inside the cavity. Roast it on a bed of onions and root vegetables. You can truss it, brine it, baste it, or smother it with butter a la Julie Child.
I’ve tried all of the above, and honestly, they’ve all come out great. The only way I can measure which is best is by the amount of chicken that doesn’t make it to the platter when I carve it. By far, the following method results in the [ahem] “smallest chickens”
Salt it, put it in a hot oven, and walk away. Doesn’t get any simpler.
Perfect Roast Chicken
1 organic or pasture raised chicken
Preheat your oven to 425°
- Rinse your chicken and dry it well, inside and out
- Salt it liberally; a good coating. If you’re salt phobic, use more than you feel comfortable with.
- Place in a roasting dish, or ideally, a cast iron dutch oven.
- Insert into the hot oven, uncovered, legs first
- Set a timer for 1 hour 15 minutes and WALK AWAY.
- Go read a book, start a movie, waste time on Facebook or Pinterest, anything that makes you happy. Just don’t fanatically open the oven door and inspect the bird. It’s fine in there, I promise.
- After an hour, check the temperature with a meat thermometer, if you have one. Insert it into the thigh, be careful to not contact the bone. Cooked chicken should be 165°, so you can take it out at 160 and it will continue cooking about 5 degrees. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, wiggle the leg. No seriously. It’s a good indicator, because once the chicken is cooked, the leg will wiggle freely, as if it’s ready to be ripped off and eaten.
- Using a pastry brush, baste the chicken with the fat (schmaltz!) in the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking for 5-30 minutes. (It could take as long as 1:45. My average chicken cooking time is between 75 and 90 minutes, depending on the size of the bird.)
- Once cooked through, remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.