There’s something special about a roast chicken – simple yet perfect. It’s a right of passage for chefs; roasting chicken is often a test for chefs who are “auditioning” for a position in fine kitchens around the world. So if you can pull off this feat at home, and you can, then you might consider a career change!
It’s one of my family’s favorite things to eat. We make it almost every week, along with a simple arugula and cherry tomato salad and a warm baguette. Even Nicky, our picky eater, craves roast chicken.
We roast our chicken whole in a cast iron skillet; seasoned with olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add chopped potatoes, carrots, onion, lemon wedges and fresh rosemary sprigs to the skillet to complete the meal. If it’s fall, add chopped butternut squash and garlic cloves. If it’s winter, add rutabaga and fennel. If it’s summer add asparagus spears about 10 minutes before the bird is done. Since roast chicken is a one-pot meal, clean up is easy. But don’t over think the bird. If you keep it simple, you’ll roast one more often.
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Wash a 3 to 4 pound whole chicken, inside and out, under cold water and pat dry. Rub with a little bit of olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place it breast-side up in a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan surrounded with your choice of vegetables. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375° F and roast for another hour, or until the juices run clear. If you have a meat thermometer, poke it into the thickest part of the thigh, making sure it doesn’t touch the bone. When the thighs reach 165° F, the chicken is perfectly roasted. As the vegetables cook, they will soak up all the juices from the chicken and get crispy and flavorful, too. The crispy bits are the best part.
Bring the skillet to the table so everyone can serve themselves…it’s half the fun. That way, you’ll spend less time in the kitchen and more time at the family table. As Julia Child used to say, “Life itself is the proper binge.”
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