With its crispy skin and juicy, succulent meat, roasted chicken is one of the tastiest, most satisfying dishes you can make. If you've never roasted a chicken before, or if it's been a while since you did, this tutorial will walk you through all the steps.
Here's what you'll need
- One whole chicken, about 4 to 5 pounds
- A roasting pan with a rack
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Butter for rubbing the chicken skin
- Carrots, celery, and onion
- About 2 cups of chicken stock or broth
- 1 Tbsp each of butter and flour for thickening the gravy
- An instant-read thermometer for testing the temperature of the chicken
- A mesh strainer, for straining the gravy
- Optional: Garlic, fresh herbs and citrus fruits such as lemons or oranges
- Optional: About three feet of kitchen twine for trussing
Roasting a chicken will take you about an hour and a half from start to finish, which also includes making gravy (starting with step #9 below). If you're interested, here's more on how to make gravy.
Also see: How to Brine a Chicken
- Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- Remove the neck and giblets from the chicken's body cavity and pat the bird dry, inside and out, with paper towels.
- Smear the outside and inside of the chicken with butter, then season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper — both inside and out.
- Truss the chicken securely with cooking twine. This step is optional, but it will help your roasted chicken cook more evenly.
- Roughly chop about half an onion and a single celery stalk and a single medium carrot. Scatter these chopped veggies at the bottom of a roasting pan. These vegetables will be used for making the gravy later on.
- Set a roasting rack over the chopped veggies and place the chicken (breast-side-up) onto the rack.
- Transfer the roasting pan to the oven. After the chicken has roasted for an hour and 15 minutes, check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the thigh. The thermometer should read at least 165°F. If not, continue roasting, and check again in 15 minutes.
- When the chicken is done, remove the roasting pan from the oven, carefully lift out the rack with the roasted chicken on it and transfer the bird to a clean cutting board. Let it rest there for 20 minutes, uncovered, while you make the gravy.
- Place the roasting pan with the roasted vegetables on the stovetop. Add a tablespoon of butter and heat over medium heat until the butter melts. Add a tablespoon of flour and stir to form a paste. Now pour about 2 cups of chicken stock or broth into the pan and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until reduced and thickened.
- Now strain the gravy through a mesh strainer and season it to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper. Once the gravy is finished and the chicken has rested, you can now carve the bird and serve with the homemade gravy.
- You can stuff the bird with fresh herbs or other aromatic items. Thyme, rosemary, sage and marjoram are great choices, but any fresh herbs will do. A couple of lemons or oranges cut into wedges or some fennel fronds are also good for stuffing the chicken. But remember, these items aren't to be eaten. They're for adding flavor and aroma only. And of course, whatever you choose to stuff the chicken with, just be sure to do it before you truss the chicken!
- For an even juicier roasted chicken, push lumps of butter under the skin before roasting it.
- Add a few peeled cloves of garlic to the carrot-celery-onion mixture before roasting.
- Don't worry about basting while the chicken roasts. You let the heat out of the oven every time you open the door, and that's not good. Also, drizzling hot liquid from the roasting pan over the chicken breast merely accelerates the cooking, thus drying out the meat more than if you just left it alone.
- Instead of chopped vegetables, just lay a few slices of bread at the bottom of the roasting pan. As the chicken roasts, the drippings will soak into the bread and the bread itself will turn all toasty and delicious.