I absolutely love vacation. But then again, who doesn’t? I totally believe that taking time off from work makes you more energized and productive when you return to the office, and fortunately my company agrees! I was lucky enough to spend the Christmas week in Seattle with family, then the following week in Puerto Rico with my boyfriend. During both trips, I got to do a little cooking here and there too. It was just wonderful.
Perhaps the only bad part about vacation is when it inevitably comes to an end. I made it back to SF after a long day and night of travel which included sleeping in Chicago O’Hare airport (it was 3 degrees outside, and maybe only 40 degrees in the airport!) On Tuesday morning, probably still half-asleep, I stumbled into my apartment and quickly got ready to head into the office. I opened my fridge to grab a quick snack and — uh oh, it was completely empty. And I mean, empty. A few sticks of butter, a block of Parm, and half a dozen of eggs. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t make it to the grocery store until the end of the week. (Lots of catchup at the office – there’s a price to pay for two weeks of vacation, right?) I kicked off the weekend with a long Saturday morning visit to Whole Foods. And now, my fridge is full and we’re back in business!
One of my go-to purchases is a whole chicken that I can roast at home. Sure, there are rotisserie chickens that are cheaper, already cooked, and pretty tasty. But, what I like about roasting my own is that I can control every ingredient that goes into it, whether it’s salt, oil, or certain herbs. I usually eat some of the chicken the night I roast it, and then use the leftover chicken throughout the week. It’s a huge timesaver!
So, why isn’t everyone buying up whole chickens and roasting them at home? Sounds like a no-brainer, right?
Well, I’ll admit that once upon a time, I was pretty intimidated by those raw chickens sitting behind the glass at the meat counter. How do you clean it? What do you do with that wet bag of random parts? And, how in the heck do you make it taste anything like the rotisseries just an aisle away? Once I built up the courage to make my first roast chicken, it was hard to stop. It truly is simple fare; whether you decide to make it for yourself or invite friends over, it’s practically foolproof and always delicious.
What to Buy
Head to your grocery store or butcher and buy a whole chicken, sometimes called a whole fryer. Most stores will have them available in the meat counter, as well as packaged in the refrigerated section. The choice of organic vs. non-organic is completely up to you and your budget. For me, the extra few dollars for an organic, free-range chicken is totally worth it. I generally go for a 4-5 pound chicken; it’s a manageable size to cook and guarantees me plenty of leftover meat for the week if I’m not using it for dinner with friends.
How to Roast a Chicken in 5 Steps
Once you’ve bought your chicken and are ready to cook it, follow these 5 steps to get it roasted perfectly.
Step 1: Remove the giblets. Some chickens come with the giblets in a small bag placed inside the chicken. Do whatever you want with them. I’m sure you can find some exotic recipes on Google…or you can throw them out.
Step 2: Rinse and dry the chicken. When you’re ready to roast your chicken, start by first rinsing it with very cold water. I basically just clear out my kitchen sink and hold the chicken under the running cold water to wash the outside and inside of the chicken. Then, place the chicken on a cutting board or large pan (I like to use a cookie sheet). Pluck any stray feathers and trim any excess fat with kitchen shears or a paring knife. Lastly, use paper towels to pat the outside of the chicken dry.
Step 3: Season the inside and truss. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish or roasting pan with its legs facing up. I prefer to use a ceramic baking dish that doesn’t cover too much of the sides of the chicken. This way, the lower part of the chicken can get golden while roasting. Be sure to tuck the wings under the chicken’s body.
You can simply season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper, as well as any herbs you might have. Or, you can try my Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken recipe. Once you’ve filled the chicken with your herbs and seasoning, you’ll want to tie it up aka truss the chicken! Trussing is actually a really important step, because it ensures the chicken cooks evenly by making it a nice, tight bundle. Also, it makes for a great presentation when the roasted chicken comes out of the oven :)
Here’s a short video to show you how to truss a chicken. All you need is butchers twine – definitely a kitchen essential so be sure to buy a large spool if you don’t already have one. It’ll last you forever.
Step 4: Season the outside. Brush some olive oil all over the outside of the chicken, and season very liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 5: Roast! You’ll want your oven to be at 425 degrees F before putting the bird in the oven. If you’re cooking a 5 lb. chicken, it’ll take about 90 minutes. Of course, you can always check if it’s ready by using a food thermometer and making sure it reads 170 degrees F in the thickest part of the breast. Once it’s done, you’ll be tempted to dive right in, but give it about 10 minutes to rest and absorb the flavorful juices.
So, what are you waiting for? Head to the store, buy your own bird and start roasting it! I promise you’ll be completely blown away with how easy it is to make and how delicious it’ll taste. Leave a comment to share how it turned out or ask any questions!