Roasting a whole chicken may seem daunting at first. I mean, you hear countless stories regaling the horrors of roasting the infamous Thanksgiving turkey, popping any whole bird in the oven should be a task reserved for the brave! But I promise you, roasting a chicken is nothing like roasting a turkey. And in all honesty, roasting a turkey isn’t that hard either, but we’ll touch on that another day…
In the meantime, start small with some modestly sized poultry that requires very little fussing in order to turn out half decent. Yes, there are likely 100 ways to roast a chicken (and apparently 50 ways to leave a lover), and some recipes boast the crispiest skin, or the most tender meat, but the recipe below is my personal go-to, and yields, in my humble opinion, the juiciest most flavourful bird I’ve ever had (OK maybe I should have left the word "humble" out). It’s evidently also my husband’s favourite thing I make. True story.
But quality really counts here! Well, it counts with all ingredients, but a happy healthy free-range chicken truly tastes so much better than a sad, sick bird. Plus, if the chicken is able to eat its natural diet of grass, bugs, and poop (yep, that’s an important elements of a well-rounded farm-fowl diet), then all those incredibly nourishing nutrients will be transferred to their tissues, and then into our bodies. Conversely, if the chicken is stressed, sick, and pumped with drugs and toxins, we inherit all the crap too. Plus, biodynamic, pasture-centred farming is so much better for our environment.
Speaking of which, one major reason I love me a whole roasted bird, is that it’s much less wasteful. Often when we buy bits and pieces from the grocery store, the “less desirable” parts of the animal are tossed. I like to think they make sausages and pet food out of the organs, and send the bones to broth-makers, but you just can’t always be sure. Plus, the organs and bones are insanely good for you, and I personally want to reap the benefits myself. I keep the offal for various other dishes (or sometimes I gift it to my delighted doggy), and save the carcass for a delicious stock.
Not only that, but buying a whole bird as opposed to its pieces is much more economic and a great way you can spend a wee bit more on some healthy happy protein and not worry about its effect on the old purse-strings so much.
Oh, and it just tastes better. Any time meat is cooked on the bone, it’s more moist and flavourful. Fact.
So there you have it. A few good reasons that roasting a chicken needs to be added to your weeknight dinner routine. And I’m so passionate about getting you on the roast-chicken-train, I even added some simple carving tips to get that glorious golden bird onto your plate and into your mouth!
Simple Roast Chicken with Lemon & Herbs (Plus Carving Tips)
Prep time: 5mins
Cooking time: 1hr 20mins
Setting time: 30 mins at the beginning, 10 or so at the end
- 1 free-range/pastured chicken (about 1.6 kg)
- Olive oil or melted coconut oil
- About 2 tblsp raw honey
- 1 lemon, cut into slices
- 1 bunch of mixed fresh herbs, such as, thyme, rosemary, sage, and bay
- Additional seasoning to taste (ground turmeric, paprika, coriander etc.)
- Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook it, to let it come up to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 475F.
- Drizzle the chicken with oil and honey, and season well with sea salt and black pepper, and any additional spices you’d like. Rub your flavourings all over the bird, and place it in a roasting pan with a rack. *Note: if you don’t have a racked roasting pan, coat the bottom of a regular roasting pan with ample amounts of olive oil, coconut oil, or grass-fed butter, and simply place the bird on top. Or do the old trick of putting some sliced onion, carrots, and celery on the bottom and rest the bird on top. Keep in mind that this might change cooking time.
- Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the sliced lemon and herbs.
- Place the tray in the oven, then turn the heat down immediately to 400F and cook for about 1 hour and 20 minutes (or when the internal temperature of the chicken has reached roughly 165F. You can always cut into the breast to see if it’s cooked through as well).
- Baste the chicken halfway through if it’s looking dry. You can also flip it over at this point too.
- When the chicken is cooked, take the tray out of the oven and transfer the chicken to a board to rest for 10 minutes or so.
- To carve your chicken, first cut between the leg and the breast, then through the joint and pull the leg off. Repeat on the other side.
- Next, cut each leg between the thigh and the drumstick so you end up with four portions of dark meat. Place these on a serving platter.
- You will now have a bit more space cleared up to cut the rest of the bird. Angle the knife along the breastbone and carve one side off, then the other.
- After that, I say just use your fingers for the fussy, hard-to-reach bits. Don’t forget to turn the chicken over to get all the tasty, juicy parts from underneath.
- You should be left with a fully stripped carcass (which is great for a bone broth or stock), and a platter full of yummy meat that you can serve with some hot gravy made from the juices left in the pan, as well as some delicious roast veggies, a big salad, or other yummy sides.
Side Dish Recipe: Roasted Parsnips with Turmeric & Thyme
Side Dish Recipe: Maple-Date Candied Carrots