Roast chicken is one of those simple dishes that says comfort and home. It’s a family favorite so I make it at least once a week. Since I’m taking the time to roast chicken, I usually roast two at one time. That way we eat one, and save the other for another meal later in the week. I’ll use the chicken for salad, soup, potpie, chicken and dumplings or whatever suits my mood. And when I’m done I freeze the carcass and use it for homemade stock. To me roast chicken is like the gift that keeps on giving.
However, not everyone shares my love for roasting chicken at home. My sister-in-law, for example, refuses to roast a whole chicken because she says the raw bird looks like a baby laying in the pan, so she wants no part of it. I tried to explain to her that it’s not really a baby so it’s okay to dress it up, stick it in the oven and eat it. I do have to admit that when I first started handling chicken many years ago I was so grossed out that I would wear those yellow dishwashing gloves just so I wouldn’t get chicken shmootz on my hands. Now I am the Ninja Chicken Master, and I can rock the heck out of a roast chicken!
I try to give myself two days to prepare the chicken. If I have the time, I leave it overnight in the refrigerator uncovered. I make sure that the chicken is in a pan on a shelf by itself so it’s not touching anything in the fridge. This extra step helps dry the skin so it get nice and crispy and yummy in the oven. A couple of hours before cooking I leave the chicken in the pan on the counter so it can come to room temperature. This is an important step that helps ensure even roasting. I keep the ingredients simple: lemon, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. I rub the chicken all over with vegetable oil which gives it an even golden color. And that’s all there is to it. It’s quite simple. All you have to do is take control of that bird, show it whose boss, and you will make the most succulent flavorful chicken you ever had.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the chicken giblets. (I save the neck bone for stock.) Rinse the chicken inside and out. Drain out the water and pat the skin dry. (If you have the time place the chicken in a roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight to dry the skin.) Let the chicken come to room temperature on the counter for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Generously salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Squeeze lemon juice over the chicken. Place the lemon, thyme and garlic half inside the chicken. Tuck the wing tips behind the chicken. Rub vegetable oil all over the chicken. Season the skin with salt and pepper.
Roast the chicken for about 1 1/2 hours until the juices run clear. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil and rest for about 15 minutes. Carve and serve.