Roast chicken is probably the most famous meal in all of America. It’s one of the few foods that people order in restaurants AND make at home. A roast chicken is beloved by everyone – probably as much as chicken nuggets and french fries. It’s a classic American meal and you can never go wrong if you make roast chicken for dinner, in my opinion.
For the last few years, I have always bought whole chickens. To me, if you are serious about cooking, you want to retain the integrity of the ingredients that you cook with. The more and more I cook, the more I am reinforced with this belief. A whole chicken easily feeds 4 people, and you get the benefit of having a variety of cuts – so dark meat and white meat lovers are all satisfied. Even if I am just cooking for myself, I’ll still roast a whole chicken because the leftovers are fantastic – use them for chicken and dumplings, tacos, chicken pot pie, chicken salad – the possibilities are endless!
If you are looking for the best flavored chickens, too, buy some organic ones. I’ve had my share of Perdue and Tyson chicken over the years. But as I compare their taste to free range, organic chickens, it doesn’t even compare. So seek a local farmer who raises his chickens in a humane way and support them. The taste is unbelievable and you’ll never go back for that regular supermarket stuff again.
Whole Roasted Chicken (serves 4)
(Recipe adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home)
One 4 – 4 1/2 lb. chicken
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
6 thyme sprigs
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
Remove the chicken from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until it comes to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, add the garlic cloves and thyme and massage the inside of the chicken to infuse it with the flavors. Truss the chicken by doing the following. Place the chicken with the legs toward you. Tuck the wing tips under the bird. Cut a piece of kitchen twine about 3 feet long and center it under the neck end of the breast. Pull the twine up over the breast towards you. Knot the twine, pulling it tight to plump up the chicken breast. Bring the ends of the twine around the ends of the drumsticks and straight up. Tie as before to pull the ends of the drumsticks together and form a compact bird. Then tie again to secure the knot.
Rub the oil all over the chicken and season generously with salt and black pepper. Cut the butter into 4 or 5 pieces and place over the breast of the chicken. Put the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan.
Put the chicken in the oven and let cook for 25 minutes. Then, lower the heat to 400 and cook for another 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bird is 160 degrees. Feel free to use your probe thermometer here.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes.