Adventures in Roast Chicken: Part One

by Melody on January 12, 2011

I watch far too much Food Network, it’s true. It’s my go-to station when I just need a little background noise.  I watched two separate episodes of Barefoot Contessa, where she roasted a chicken and made fabulous things with all the extra “parts” and I was intrigued.  I started doing my homework.

My recipe is generally pulled from two different articles: This Roasting Chicken Article from and this Perfect Roast Chicken recipe from Ina Garten.  I read through a LOT of information and pieced together my own recipe, based on what was simple and using ingredients I always have around the house.  Please remember, I am no professional.  I took the most important tips very seriously, like cooking time and temperature.  I have made this recipe several times and it turns out delicious every time

Start with a whole fryer chicken.  I used two in this case because we were having friends over for dinner, each was about four pounds.  Remove any giblets and other miscellaneous items you may find inside the chicken cavity.  Liberally salt inside the cavity and all over the outside.

Chop things up and shove them in the cavity of the chicken, whatever you feel like.  I used a stalk of celery, one whole head of garlic and a small onion.  Don’t worry about peeling the garlic or the onion, it will all get removed after cooking.  You can seriously add anything that sounds good to you, just depending on what flavor you want your chicken.

The next step is to season your chicken.  The best method I found is to mix your seasonings together first and then rub them under the skin.  Wiggle your fingers under the skin to get it to loosen up.  I used a mixture of sage, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper.  Again, you can use any kind of seasoning you want, depending on what taste you are going for.  If you are going to remove the skin, this helps season the chicken itself so you don’t lose all the flavor.

I also cut up a few tablespoons of butter for each chicken and stuck them under the skin as well.  It seems to keep the chicken breasts really moist.  And I just love butter.  Feel free to skip this step, but do it at your own risk.

Place your chicken in a roasting pan or you can use a baking sheet with a rack on top.  This is the rack I use to cool my cookies and pastries, I wish I knew if it had an actual name. Please ignore the disgusting baking sheet.  I save one of my sheets for roasting vegetables and cooking chicken. The last thing I do before putting the chicken in the oven is to drizzle them liberally with olive oil.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  I cooked my two 4-pound chickens for 1 hour 50 minutes, based on the recommendations from the cooking chart in this article. Let your chicken rest for 10 minutes or so before carving to let the juices redistribute.
Do I sound like I should have my own cooking show yet?

Everyone was hungry, so I started carving the first chicken before I remembered to take a picture.  That’s why there is just one.  Then I had to beg my friends to not judge me for taking pictures of my food.

You can’t even imagine how delicious your house will smell while the chicken is cooking.  I seriously could have just started gnawing on a drumstick before I even took it off the chicken.  These turn out so delicious, very tender and VERY moist.  Please don’t ask me how to carve a chicken, I make a glorious mess out of it.

You’re not done yet.  Save all those bones, extra bits of chicken, chunks of fat (seriously) and all the goodies you chopped up and shoved into the chicken cavity.  I threw mine in a Tupperware container and stuck them in the fridge until I was ready to use them.  When you are ready, make your own fabulous and delicious (and easy) chicken stock.

Please feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions or tips.  This method is just what works really well for me.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Chelsea January 13, 2011 at 1:46 am

I did a similar recipe for this year's turkey, but in the cavity I put apples and citrus fruit. Sounds weird but it was the juiciest bird I've ever had. And like you said, you can use anything. My friend suggested lemon and lime, but I used what I had on hand – apple, grapefruit, onion, etc.


The McFarlane Family January 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm

You inspired me and I cooked an roast chicken yesterday using Martha Stewart's perfect roast chicken recipe. It was a hit with everybody! Except when I was cleaning gizzards, that wasn't so awesome. I served it with sweet potatoes and roasted it over onions and carrots. Yummy!


Sarah January 13, 2011 at 9:59 pm

You are such a Martha Stewart Mel! You've inspired me to try this out…I've always been a little scared of any recipe that involves an entire chicken :-). This looks so yummy that I have to at least attempt it! Thanks for the awesome post!


Maegen January 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Try beer can chicken! Basically, you put the thing over the beer can and roast it up right-super juicy, and maybe because it involves a beer can-my husband is the one who makes it!


Melody January 15, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I LOVE beer can chicken, but we never think to make it. Thanks for the reminder! My husband does hate to "waste" beer though. 🙂


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