I've cooked and eaten a good amount of roast chicken in my day. I like to think I've seen it all -- from birds so bland and boring they weren't worth eating to cluckers so juicy and succulent I devoured every last bite.
I've discovered two things that are key to making a perfect roast chicken_ 1) cooking at a very high temperature so that the skin becomes crispy and golden and seals the meat inside so it remains moist and 2) buying the best quality chicken possible.
To perfect this recipe I experimented for an entire week, flipping, seasoning, and cooking at different times and temperatures. I roasted the chickens of several different store brands as well as a few from my favorite farmer's market vendors. When it came time to taste test, I found that the quality of the bird had everything to do with the amount of ooh's and ahh's it received.
As you can probably imagine, I wound up serving my family chicken every night that week, but the recipe turned out so well, everyone was as enthusiastic with dinner on day 4 as they were on day 1 -- and my husband insists that this is the best chicken he's ever tasted.
So kick your oven temperature way up, buy the best quality bird you can get your hands on and watch your family devour this chicken. Just make sure to set aside 1/2 cup or so to make Chicken Bean and Cheese Quesadillas for school lunch the next day!
Perfect Roast Chicken (serves 4-6)
- 1 4-pound chicken
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 3-4 sprigs thyme
- 1 small lemon, cut in half
Preparation1. Wash the chicken and pat dry, removing as much excess liquid as possible.
2. Rub the salt all over the chicken -- inside and out.
3. Place chicken in a 9-inch skillet with an oven-proof handle. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 3-24 hours.*
4. Heat oven to 475°F. **
5. Place the skillet, without the chicken, in the oven for 15 minutes or on a stovetop burner for 1 minute to heat.
6. Stuff chicken with thyme and lemon and tie legs together.
7. Place chicken breast-side up in the pan and bake uncovered, for 30 minutes.
8. Flip chicken over and place back in the oven for 20 minutes.
9. Turn the chicken breast-side up again for an additional 10 minutes.
10. Remove from oven and allow chicken to cool for 10 minutes and serve.
* If you don\\'t have a skillet with an oven-proof handle, use a baking dish just larger than your chicken. Though in step 6, do not heat dish on the stovetop -- only in the oven.
** Use the convection setting on your oven if you have one, reducing the cooking time in step 7 to 25 minutes.