I’m one laaaaazy fool. When I started cooking years ago, I focused most of my energy on figuring out the easiest ways to make a large amount of food so I could eat for days and only cook once. Usually I’d pick a Sunday to chop, prep, cook and then store everything in containers for easy reheating later. It was the one reason why I, out of so many of my candy and fast-food eating co-workers, somehow managed to lose weight as opposed to gain it. One of the lazy-person tricks I learned at the time was how to roast a chicken. One cooking sesh and you will be fed for days! I started the laziest person’s way by purchasing a pre-roasted chicken from the store, but was quickly turned off after a few questions popped into my mind:
- How dang long has that chicken been sitting under the heat lamp?
- Why is the skin so soggy?
- WHERE DID THIS CHEAP FRICK’N CHICK’N COME FROM?
- Did someone with Ebola handle this chicken??? Just kidding folks… Too soon?
I ran to my America’s Test Kitchen to learn about how difficult it would be to roast a whole chicken myself. Turns out it’s pretty easy and 1000x tastier than a store-bought roasted chicken. AND it’s more beneficial to you. Let me tell ya why…
Why you wanna roast?
Reason #1: You get to pick the chicken being cooked.
So if you’re someone who’s anti-hormones and antibiotics and/or pro-free range and organic, then you have the power to roast whatever type of magical chicken you want. You get to choose the size/poundage as well!
And, since you’re picking out the chicken, you know exactly how fresh it is, as opposed to those roasted suckers kicking it in a heating oven for god knows how long.
Reason #2: A roasted chicken will feed you for days.
You can eat the chicken with some veggies and/or rice for dinner, make sammiches, throw the chicken in a salad to add protein, and/or you can use it for a healthy snack (just pair an ounce of chicken with some raw veggies or fruit)! Also, you can use the carcass to make the most DELICIOUS chicken broth you will ever taste in your life. I’m just wild about broth man…
Reason #3: You control what’s added to the chicken.
Who the heck knows what they put in/slather on those pre-roasted chickens! They could be piling on the salt, dunking the chicken in toilet water, or injecting it with preservatives. If you make it yourself, you ensure that whatever is in/on that chicken was added by you and you alone. No saline solution injected in, no added sugars, no preservatives…NADA. Unless of course you like that stuff… Weirdo.
Reason #4: It’s cheap as hell.
Let me break down the math for ya:
- A whole chicken usually is around 3lbs.
- Of that three pounds, about 62% is actual meat.
- So, there’s approximately 1.9 lbs of meat on that sucker. That’s about 30 oz.
- A recommended serving for the average person is about 4 – 6 ounces of protein with meals (unless you’re the Hulk and eat more than the average person).
- Therefore you get about 5 meals-worth of delicious meat!
The final cost? The average cost for a chicken is around $5 (obviously it’s going to cost more if it’s a magical/organic chicken). So, you’ll only pay about $1 per serving. And, if you use the carcass, you’ll save even more money by making your own broth over and over again from the bones. Awesome sauce.
So shut up already and teach me how to roast!
You need a couple things:
- A dead chicken. Preferably.
- A V-Rack and Roasting Pan (if you only have a roasting pan, I have a trick below where you won’t need a V-Rack!)
- A stove
- A meat thermometer
- 3-4 Tbs of Butter or some other oil/fat
- Herbs, salt, and pepper
- 1 Cup of Water
The ‘Murica’s Test Kitchen recipe that has never failed me
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease the V-Rack (the V-shaped bar thingie where the chicken kicks it). You can use an oil spray if you want but I usually warm a lil’ coconut oil in my hands and wipe it over the bars. If you don’t have a V-Rack, chop up a bunch of veggies coarsely (carrots, onion, celery, etc.) and use them to create a layer of support in between the chicken and the pan, like so:
Grab yo dead chicken and, if they haven’t already been taken out for you, remove the delicious gizzards and organs that are wrapped in a cute little package inside the chicken cavity. Next step is usually tying the legs together with string, but I’ve skipped that step and no one died… So far…
Preparing the skin
Soften 3-4 Tbs of butter (or oil of your choice) and mix in your herbs to form a paste. I use this: Cantanzaro Herbs. Herbs that usually compliment chicken are: Garlic, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and sage. Next, gently lift the skin (DO NOT REMOVE, just work your fingers in there to loosen it) from the top of the chicken breast. Like so:
Don’t be scared, it’s really not that gross or difficult. Once you’ve separated the membrane, stuff 2-3 Tbs of the butter/oil-paste (not all of it, save 1 Tb) under the skin as best you can. Melt the remaining paste and brush it over the outside of the chicken. Then sprinkle the outside of the chick-a-dee with salt, pepper, and more herbs if you wanna.
Now, roast that bad boy!
Holy cow-chicken, you’re almost done already! Place the chicken breast-side up in the V-Rack (or on top of veggies) and pour the cup of water directly into the pan. Once the oven is at the correct temp, toss that sucker in there and set your timer for 40 minutes.
When the 40 minutes is over, rotate the roasting pan in the oven, raise the temp to 450 degrees, and cook for an additional 30 minutes OR until the internal temperature of the THICKEST part of the chicken breast registers 165-170 degrees on a meat thermometer.
Annnnnnd….you’re done. Take the bird out, let it rest for about 30 minutes, and then you can chop your way to delicious meals.
Getting your chop on
I usually just hack at the bird with a knife whilly nilly, while lapping up juices and shoving random bits of skin in my mouth. BUT, if you don’t want to follow my gross behavior, here’s a helpful video on how to carve a chicken:
Now, I’m a single gal who’s only cooking for herself and her cat. If you’re cooking for a family, just roast two chickens at once! Follow all of the same steps and just throw an extra chicken into the roasting pan. Just make sure that the pan is large enough so both chickens fit comfortably without crowding each other.
No joke, there is nothing like a freshly roasted chicken. Your house gets filled with a symphony of delicious odors, so there’s no need to spend $10 bucks on a “Cooked Chicken” scented candle at Bath and Body Works. It’s delicious and you can eat for days! And finally, you can make gallons of broth from the carcass to heal you and your loved ones when illness strikes.
And if you think this is too difficult for the payout, seriously, just give up on life right now and drink your foods out of a can from now on.