I like to get back to basics sometimes. I pick a recipe, strip it down to its core, and start fresh.
That’s what I’ve been doing with roast chicken lately.
There are a crazy amount of choices when it comes to roasting chicken. Do you truss? Brine? Stuff? Season? Baste? Butter? All of the above? None of the above?
When it comes to food prep I always lean toward the easy side. I stuff with simple aromatics. Nothing crazy, and I don’t insist on a bed of onions, carrots and turnips. I season the skin. I brine. And I purchase organic, free-range and local (when possible) chickens. Hippie chickens. Do it. I promise it makes all the difference in the world. (Or if you’d like to be scared out of your factory poultry ways, watch this.)
So let’s make a completely easy, delicious meal.
First, let’s make the brine. I use equal parts sugar and kosher salt: 1/4 cup of each.
Add a little warm water and whisk until dissolved.
Rinse your chicken inside and out, removing any innards what may be hiding in the cavity, and stick it in a large zipper bag. Pour the brine starter in and fill the rest of the way with water. The logic behind brining is simple: leave the bird in a flavored water long enough and it will absorb some of the liquid, keeping it moist during cooking.
Stick it in a bowl (in case, heaven forbid, your bag leaks and raw chicken-infused liquid tries to spill all over your refrigerator), and stick it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
The next day? Our little chickadee is retaining some water weight. Must be that time of the month.
Ready to season?
Chop up one lemon. I like to do it in eighths.
Also grab some cloves of garlic. Peel and skin.
And finally, rosemary. Or, if you have something else in your garden—sage, parsley, or thyme, for example—use that instead.
Rinse your bird and pat dry. And I mean dry. The skin will get crisp without adding any butter or oil if you get that sucker perfectly parched before roasting.
Go ahead and stuff the lemon, herbs and garlic into the cavity of the chicken.
Season all over with salt and pepper and place in a baking dish (or roasting pan with rack—whatever you prefer). I go the lazy route and line a pan with foil for easy cleanup.
Simple and really pretty to make. If you’re a trusser (yes, that’s a word—just trust me) now would be the time to tie this bird up. I’m lazy. I don’t truss. Plus, I all out of butcher twine, so there ya go.
Preheat your oven to 450F and stick in a thermometer. If you have an electronic one that you can read outside the oven, that would be ideal so you don’t have to open the oven door at all.
50-60 minutes later (or when internal temp has reached 160-165)? Perfectly roasted. No basting, no muss, no fuss.
Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before carving.
Oh, that skin looks perfect. I know I shouldn’t eat it.
But I will.
Moist, tender meat. Crispy skin. A hint of lemon, rosemary and garlic.
Is there a better, more simple meal? Saute some veggies and you’ve got dinner.
Get back to basics and roast yourself a chicken this week. You’ll wonder why you stayed away from this simple dish so long.
Simple Roast Chicken
- 2-3 pound whole chicken, innards removed
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 lemon, washed and cut into eighths
- 6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and skinned
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine kosher salt and sugar in a bowl. Stir in one cup warm water and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Rinse chicken and place in a large zipper bag. Pour sugar/salt/water mixture over chicken and fill bag the rest of the way with water. Place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 450F. Remove chicken from brine, rinse and pat very dry inside and out. Stuff lemons, rosemary and garlic cloves into cavity. Season all over with salt and pepper. Roast for 50-60 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160-165F. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.