My First Time Roasting a Chicken

I buy rotisserie chickens from Safeway and Costco frequently. Such an easy meal and pretty tasty, so why roast your own? Right? Well, I found out last night. I bought a 5lb (2.7kg) fresh chicken, grabbed my How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food, by Mark Bittman, (everyone should have this book) and got ready to roast my first chicken. Best part? I roasted it upside down! But, guess what. It still turned out amazing. The kids were moaning with pleasure. I am usually a dark meat fan, but the breast meat on this was so moist and delicious that I may convert. Learning to love the white meat would be wise on my part, since I cannot seem to wrestle a leg away from my 13 year old son, Ben, anymore.

The cooking method was very simple.

Preparing the Oven and the Chicken
1. Heat your oven to 450ºF (232ºC).
2. As the oven is warming up, put a large, cast iron skillet that will fit your chicken in the oven.
3. Meanwhile, rinse your bird with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
4. Remove the giblets and any other nasty things in the cavity.
5. Massage the entire bird, inside and out, with extra virgin olive oil.
6. Lightly season the entire bird with salt and pepper (I used pepper and salt grinders and moved quickly over the chicken.
7. Add a few sprigs of your favorite herb. I placed fresh rosemary and tarragon in the cavity.
8. Coarsely chop three garlic cloves.

Cooking the Chicken
1. When the oven is done preheating, pull out your hot skillet. Sprinkle garlic clove pieces in the pan and then place the chicken in the skillet breast side up (or down if you are want to try my tasty mistake).
2. Listen to the instant sizzle of the bird hit the pan!
3. Put the pan and the bird in the oven.
4. Roast for 40-50 minutes for a 3 to 4lb chicken. I had a five pounder and cooked for just over 50 minutes.
Note: Bittman mentions that if the juices start smoking, you should add a little white wine or water to the pan. I didn’t experience that.

Your chicken is ready when the juices run clear and a meat thermometer stuck in the thigh reads 155-165ºF (68-74ºC). Pull the chicken out of the oven and then let the chicken rest in the pan for 10 minutes before carving/serving.  Brian and I drizzled the herbed pan juices over our servings (yum) and the boys ate theirs au naturale.

Side dish? We did a quick box of Near East wild mushroom and herb couscous.  Takes only about five minutes and it is a favorite at our house.