I know it’s easy to pick up a rotisserie bird from the supermarket deli, especially when you’re short on time and/or ideas. Believe me, I’ve done it myself many times! But what if I told you that making perfect roast chicken at home is incredibly easy?
In fact, your hands-on prep time is less than five minutes. Dinner doesn’t get much easier than that!
You probably already know that roast chicken from the deli is usually injected with all sorts of flavor enhancers and preservatives. And, unless your deli carries free range and/or organic roast chickens, you’ll most likely be serving your family and yourself a mix of antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides.
One of the many things I love about making roast chicken at home is just the simplicity and joy of cooking a beautiful meal from scratch with fresh, wholesome ingredients. The whole idea seems very French, don’t you think?
In fact, it was a book about how French people eat that motivated me to start making roast chicken at home rather than buying it from the deli. That book was The Fat Fallacy: The French Diet Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss (a great book by the way). It not only provided me with a great recipe for roast chicken, it changed the way I eat and amplified my appreciation and enjoyment of beautiful, home-cooked food.
There are few foods more beautiful (in my opinion) than golden roast chicken, hot and fragrant from the oven, with moist, flavorful meat and crispy, salty skin. It’s one of my favorite meals. Plus, it smells heavenly while it’s roasting!
It wasn’t until recently though, that I finally got the crispy skin thing figured out. Since I’m one of those people who loves crispy chicken skin, this was a big deal for me. I found out that beginning the roasting process on high heat for 15 minutes, then reducing it for the rest of the cooking time, is the secret to a truly beautiful bird with crispy golden skin every time.
Believe me, your family will be so impressed when you start serving them home-cooked roast chicken. This is also the perfect dish to make when you have company because while the chicken roasts, you’ll have time to concentrate on setting the table and making your side dishes, etc.
Since I like to keep it simple, I usually serve this dish with garlicky mashed potatoes or rice (or cauliflower rice), steamed broccoli (using a bamboo steamer), and a side salad. If I’ve made homemade bread the weekend before (using this recipe), I’ll add a loaf to the table. A classic French country meal! Believe me, you’ll be hearing raves for days–and yet it’s all so simple!
Perfect Classic Roast Chicken Recipe
1 3 to 4 lb. roaster chicken, preferably organic and free-range
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh or dried herbs (try thyme, rosemary, or parsley)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 425F. (If you remember to, take the bird out of the fridge 20 to 30 minutes before you plan to pop it in the oven. If you forget, that’s okay.)
2. Line a roasting pan with foil. Remove the packaging from the chicken and place the chicken in the pan, breast side up. Remove the giblet packet that may be inside the cavity.
3. Drizzle the chicken with 2 to 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (I just eyeball it). Brush the oil over the skin. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fresh or dried herbs, to taste. I like to use thyme or rosemary.
4. When the oven is ready, place the pan in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes are up, reduce the oven temperature to 375F (don’t open the oven door) and continue roasting the chicken for an additional 50 to 60 minutes, until juices run clear.
5. Remove the pan from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and allow the bird to stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving and serving. Enjoy!