We have that whole “bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan” thing covered. But somehow we missed one of life’s most important lessons: how to roast a chicken.
Thankfully, the poultry gods delivered to us Julie Van Rosendaal.
Between working on a book, serving as food editor at ParentsCanada magazine, and blogging about her family’s kitchen at Dinner with Julie, she found time to teach us not one but three ways to roast a chicken.
“There are hundreds of thousands of recipes out there for roast chicken, some trussed and fancy, some plain. Roasting a chicken is virtually foolproof: It can be cooked for a long time at a low temperature or for a short time at a high temperature; there is no right or wrong way. Although, cooks around the world are convinced their methods are best.”
Foolproof Roast Chicken
1 chicken, a roaster or a fryer (about 4 lbs.)
Softened butter or oil (canola or olive)
Salt and pepper
Optional: half a lemon, a few cloves of garlic (peeled or unpeeled), and a handful of fresh herbs
1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels (to ensure crispy skin).
3. If you like, tuck the lemon, garlic, and herbs inside the chicken’s cavity. (Note: Trussing is an unnecessary step, and, in fact, the insides of the wings and drumsticks don’t brown as well. But you can tie the legs together with some kitchen string for aesthetic purposes.)
4. Put the chicken in a roasting pan, baking dish, or cast iron skillet. Rub it all over with butter or oil — the fat helps produce a golden, crispy crust — and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
5. Roast for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 375°. Baste if you want, but it’s not necessary.
6. Roast for another 50-60 minutes until it’s deep golden. (The drumsticks wiggle in their sockets, and the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced. If you have an oven thermometer, it should read 170° when poked into the thickest part of the thigh.)
7. If it needs to be cooked longer, leave it in and check it every 10 minutes until done.
8. Tent the chicken with foil and let it stand for 10 minutes before carving. While it’s resting, pour the pan juice into a bowl and spoon off the fat. Use the juice to make gravy or just serve as is, drizzled over the chicken.
A spatchcocked chicken (split open with the backbone removed) cooks more quickly and evenly, having been flattened before roasting.
1. Turn the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board and use sharp kitchen shears to cut along one side of the spine (starting from the cavity). Cut the other side, then remove the bone.
2. Open the bird like a book, flip it over, and flatten it — pressing down on the breast and turning the legs so they lie flat.
3. Proceed with your favorite roast chicken recipe, cutting the cooking time by about a third.
Chicken Under a Brick
Once you’ve mastered spatchcocking, you can cook your chicken on the grill rather than in the oven. If you don’t have access to a brick (typically foil wrapped), try setting a large cast iron skillet on top of the chicken (after rubbing the bird with oil and sprinkling it with salt and pepper or a spice rub).
1. Preheat your grill to high. Place chicken cut-side down on the rack. Top with brick or skillet. Cook for a few minutes.
2. Lower heat to medium, close the grill, and cook for about 15 minutes per side or until cooked through (juices run clear; joints wiggle; thermometer reads 170°).
3. Let chicken rest on a cutting board, loosely tented with foil or a tea towel, for 5-10 minutes before carving.
Find more inspired dinner ideas online at dinnerwithjulie.com.
Photos: Courtesy of Dinner with Julie