I don’t know why this chicken crossed the road, but I’m glad she made the effort, as a simple roasted chicken is one of easiest, most affordable and variable dishes you can make for yourself or a group. Everything cooks in one pan for easy clean-up. The seasoning possibilities are endless, as are the options for the leftovers. Butterflying the chicken cooks the roasted chicken faster than when it’s whole and removes some of the uncertainty if you have concerns about under- or over-cooking poultry. You can just as easily use a quartered chicken though. Be sure to save the raw and cooked bones, along with the veggie scraps, to make a delicious homemade stock when the feasting is over.
1 – 4 pound(ish) chicken, whole or quartered
1 lemon, zested
2 t. kosher salt
2 t. dried thyme
1 t. ground black pepper
1 head of garlic, separated into individual cloves, but not peeled
2 T. olive oil
3-4 pounds of your favorite hearty vegetables, on this occasion I used multi-colored fingerling potatoes, golden beets and Brussels sprouts
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and make sure the rack is low enough so that the chicken will be in the middle once the roasting pan is inside the oven.
- Prepare your veggies by washing, drying and cutting them into semi-uniform sizes, if necessary. I personally prefer that they are not completely uniform so that there is a variety of textures once they are cooked.
- Place veggies in the bottom of your roasting pan and toss with 1 T. olive oil, 1 t. thyme, 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper.
- Pat your chicken dry. If using a whole chicken, remove the backbone, flatten the bird out in a butterfly fashion, and remove the breastbone. Ask your butcher to do this for you if you are unfamiliar with the technique or alternatively, use a pre-quartered chicken.
- Lay the chicken on top of the veggies.
- In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest with the remaining thyme, salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the seasoning mixture evenly over the chicken and massage it into the skin, making sure the skin covers as much flesh as possible.
- Drizzle chicken with remaining olive oil.
- Roast chicken for 45-60 minutes until a thermometer inserted into a thigh registers 162 degrees (see next step).
- Remove chicken from the pan, setting it aside on a cutting board or platter. Cover the chicken with foil and let it rest. This step is important so that the residual heat continues to cook the chicken to 165 degrees and also so that the juices reincorporate into the meat and prevent it from becoming dry.
- Give the veggies a stir and return them to the oven and let roast another 10 minutes.
- Once the chicken has rested for a good 15 minutes it should be ready for you to carve, serve along with the veggies and nosh!
Safety tips: Remember that raw chicken can carry salmonella and/or other foodborne pathogens, so always thoroughly wash your hands and cooking surfaces with warm, soapy water after coming in contact with it, each and every time. According to the USDA, chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.