A simple roasted chicken is a great way to showcase the natural flavor inherit in well-raised poultry. This straight-forward recipe is endlessly flexible — add vegetables, spices, or herbs to create your own masterpiece. See the six variations at end of recipe for a few ideas.
Are you wondering what's with all the salting? It's simple: Salting the chicken before roasting helps it retain its own natural juices and flavors. (See To Brine or Not to Brine for more details.)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
- 1 chicken
- Sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
- Rinse the chicken with cool water. Dry it with paper towels. Use your fingers to loosen the skin from the meat on the breasts and thighs.
- Measure out 1/2 teaspoon salt per pound of chicken (i.e. a 4-pound chicken will need 2 teaspoons salt). Rub the salt all over the chicken, including under the loosened skin. Set the chicken breast-side up in a roasting pan and chill up to 36 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Rub the breasts and tops of the thighs with the oil or butter. Pour the wine or broth into the bottom of pan. Roast the chicken, undisturbed, until browned, about 45 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 325°F, spoon some pan juices over the chicken, and continue roasting until the meat pulls away from ends of drumsticks and thighs joints feel loose and move easily when you wiggle the end of a drumstick, about 30 minutes (cooking times for chicken vary greatly depending on size, temperature going into the oven, and precision of oven temperature, so go by how the chicken looks and feels, not the clock). Experienced chefs also know that a fully-roasted chicken makes a slight hissing whistle or "singing" sound.
- Let the chicken sit for at least 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large cutting board and carve. Serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
- Herb Chicken: Tuck 1/3 cup fresh herbs — such as thyme, sage, or oregano — under the skin before roasting.
- Lemon Chicken: Gently squeeze 2 lemon halves over chicken before adding wine to pan. Stuff lemon halves into the chicken cavity.
- Spicy Chicken: Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne to salt mixture.
- Chicken with Roast Vegetables: Put halved or quartered root vegetables into pan after the first 15 minutes of cooking.
- Garlic Chicken: Rub 1 to 2 cloves minced garlic under the skin before roasting. You can also add whole cloves of garlic to the pan.
- Smokey Chicken: Mix 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton de la vera) into salt mixture.