20 November 2009

Classics: Roasted Chicken

What’s better for a comforting dinner than roasted chicken? I love them, and with just the two of us we can usually get 4 meals out of one bird. For a classic like this, I always turn to
Nigel Slater for guidance. His treatment of food is just right--good ingredients, not too much fussing.

I always start with a free-range chicken, for a lot of reasons, but one added benefit is that the drumsticks are really big. My husband is a drumstick guy, and he loves the longer legs on free-range birds. The bones are a lot stronger as well, and I think the stock they make has more flavor.

This guy weighed 1.25 kilos, or about 2.5 pounds. I plunked him in an oval dish and rubbed him all over with olive oil. I cut up a lemon and squeezed the juice over him, and put the squeezed lemon half inside him, along with several cloves of garlic. I put 4 or 5 garlic cloves and a couple of shallots around him in the pan. I cut up some potatoes and put them around him as well. Then I sprinkled the whole lot with a little salt, some pepper and some dried rosemary. If I’d had some nice thyme I’d have used that too. I poured about a half a cup of water around him (you could use white wine) and put him in a hot oven (200 C / 400 F) for an hour and 20 minutes. Nigel’s rule of thumb is 20 minutes for each 500 g / pound plus an extra 30 minutes. This always works out just right for me.

During that time, I checked to make sure that the pan wasn’t dry, and basted him a little bit. That’s all. Et VOILA! The potatoes were roasted and crunchy, the chicken was perfectly done and juicy, and there was a gorgeous sauce in the bottom of the dish. Just let him rest for a few minutes before you carve him. I know, it’s hard, but trust me--it makes a difference!

This is exactly the same way I roast my turkey for thanksgiving, or game hens for a fancier dinner. 20 minutes per pound/500 g plus an extra 30 minutes.

This goes veryvery well with
Fancy Pants Potatoes and a little salad.

  • I sometimes use butter instead of olive oil at the beginning, and shove a little bit under the skin of the breast. This makes him brown a little more, and makes for a richer sauce.
  • Carrots, parsnips and onions are good roasted in the pan along with the potatoes. Or instead of them.
  • If you don’t do potatoes in the pan, this is splendid with truffle mashed potatoes: just boil some potatoes, mash them with some butter and a little milk or cream. Add some grated pecorino cheese with truffles. YUM!


Lizzy said...

That's funny, I never thought about one of the benefits of using free-range chickens being that their legs and bones are stronger. Makes sense though! What kind of salad is that on your plate? It looks yummy.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

It doesn't get any better than roasted chicken and yours looks wonderful. Free range chickens only make it better.

La Table De Nana said...

Il est beau comme un coeur:)

Anonymous said...

Browned and gorgeous! I think the butter helps a lot with browning and flavor - I just saw Ina Garten do that to her chicken last week (well, on TV, not in person!), and hers turned out as well as yours.

Do you ever set your chicken on a little rack inside the dish so it doesn't sit in its juices? My parents always did that when I was growing up, so they could make a sauce after roasting, but now I wonder if the chicken stays more moist by laying it its own juices?

Hungry Dog said...

If I could only eat one dinner for the rest of my life, it would have to be roast chicken. I love, love, love it. Yours looks beautiful, perfectly browned and crispy and juicy. Gorgeous!

The Gypsy Chef said...

This is making me hungry! I am currently on an airplane with nothing good to eat! I will just savor your pics instead. Being in Europe you are surrounded by the best ingredients! Lucky you!

Barbara said...

All the comments above are right on! Roasting a chicken is the ultimate in comfort food. I must admit I have never roasted potatoes underneath it, but after seeing your photos, I'm definitely going to try it!

Carol at Serendipity said...


This is exactly the way I roast my chicken. I don't cook a turkey for Thanksgiving any more - I do a chicken. We will go to a friend's house and have Turkey. I will take chicken any day.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Kate at Serendipity said...

Lizzy, that salad is just some spinach leaves with too much dressing on them! The dressing was mayo and vinegar and some herbs. I think that today is your Thanksgiving dinner in Amsterdam. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sam and Monique, thanks.

Nightowlchef, I used to use a roasting rack, but when I was cooking in Italy we just used the aromatics (onions, celery, carrots) to do the job. It's a lot easier! When we roasted a pork loin we used the bones as a roasting rack. Afterwards, the meat on the bones was the best part.

Hungry dog, I'm with you. It's one of my favorite meals. I'd probably have to add some pasta, though, if I were going to eat it for the rest of my life!

Gypsy, you're reading this while flying? Amazing. Do they let you use internet? I always have to turn mine off... LOL, I can promise you that this chicken was better than what you're eating on the plane!

Barbara, putting the potatoes in there was Nigel's idea. It's a good one, though, and so I stole it!

Carol, I was afraid we'd have to serve chicken for Thanksgiving - turkeys are Christmas food here, so it's almost impossible to find a whole one. There are lots of parts (breasts, roasts, legs) but no whole ones. I finally found a butcher who ordered one from the farmer for me. I love this place!

The Gypsy Chef said...

Kate, I was delighted you see you found my friend Lynn's blog. I had told her about you and your blog during my last visit. Next time I am in France you ust make a trip down! Pam

Kate said...

Kate, this looks so wonderful! I love a roasted chicken...or turkey. There really isn't anything better. It is home cooking at its best!
I like the idea of putting the potatoes on the bottom...never tried it and will have to do so!

Sweet and Savory said...

Roasted chicken can be considered mundane but it is not. Just look at yours and we know, it is really special. That looks amazing. Sometimes, I think, this is the best way to serve chicken. It gets the best undisguised flavor.

Grace said...

slather some butter here, slather some butter there, shove some butter under the skin--ya can't go wrong like that!

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Nothing like a classic roast chicken. And BUTTER!!!

Jill said...

So DELICIOUS everything sounds! I have a little something for you over at my blog:
Enjoy! :)

Tammy518 said...

I love roasted chicken, and yours is beautiful! I've put a lemon inside the chicken before, but have never squeezed the lemon juice on the chicken. I'll try that the next time.

Kathy said...

Hello Kate...Everyone thinks they are getting Turkey for Thanksgiving tomorrow...We decided on Chicken legs and thighs...Children like legs... and a honey ham for the older taste buds...I can just hear the gasps now!!!! LOVE to mix it everybody something to talk about! Ha!...Your chicken I must try on the potatoes, yum. I am sorry to hear about your brothers passing...we are never prepared for that. My love to you and your family, xoxo~Kathy @ Sweet Up-North Mornings....Your brother was only 4 months older then I.

Divina Pe said...

I'm supposed to roast some chicken this week. I haven't done that yet but they are absolutely versatile and you're so right that they are really a comfort food. And this is the only time I eat the skin. I actually want to roast some chicken maybe twice a month so I could use it in different recipes but my family is a huge eater - 2 brothers, then in laws and even sisters too have huge appetite, so I might do it twice a month. Your roast chicken looks fabulous. I love the golden color. Even the raw one looks good too. :D