Chicken and eggs. Some say the mark of a true chef is in how well he/she can prepare the basics like eggs and roasted chicken. Some executive chefs even test new hires by having them prepare these very items.
Don’t be intimidated by roasting a chicken. Maybe you haven’t had success in the past, but you’ll want to give it another shot. At our house we roast a chicken about once a week and it’s a meal that keeps on giving. Besides having a hearty one-skillet meal, we then use the leftover meat to make assorted chicken salads and the bones to make stock.
Linton Hopkins, an Atlanta chef, sings the praises of roasting a chicken and inspired me some years back to jump on the bandwagon. A few of his simple tips make cooking the bird an almost fool-proof process.
Get a small chicken. If you’re buying from a farmers market, chances are you’ll end up with one 3-4 pounder, which is what you want. If you’re buying from your supermarket, buy the smallest one you can get (usually close to 4 pounds).
- 1 (3-4 lb) whole chicken, organ meats removed
- bacon grease, rendered duck fat, or coconut oil
- kosher salt
- cracked black pepper
- assorted vegetables (like carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, squash), cut in large cubes
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into large chucks
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
- Preheat oven to 450°.
- Arrange chopped vegetables, onions and garlic in a cast-iron skillet.
- Dry the chicken both inside and out with paper towels. Blot and blot some more. You don’t want the chicken to steam, you want a nice crispy skin. I am lazy and don’t truss the chicken, but go ahead if you are so inclined.
- Rub the whole bird with a generous amount of grease. Sprinkle liberally with salt and black pepper. You can also sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs, if desired.
- Set the chicken on top of the vegetables in the skillet. And roast for about an hour. Check the bird at about 45 minutes for doneness, but in my experience it takes closer to an hour. Make a small slit under the thigh to check to be sure juices run clear.
- Let the chicken rest for about 5-10 minutes before you dig in. You can use that time to watch a how-to video on chicken carving.