"if you're afraid of butter, use cream." - Julia Child

Foolproof Roasted Chicken

Foolproof Roasted Chicken

I was always pretty intimidated by the prospect of roasting a whole chicken. Sure, Ina Garten always pulls a bird out of her oven that looks like it just stepped off the runway; but once you start researching recipes and techniques you start to realize it’s going to be a long day. Do I need a special roasting pan with a rack insert? To truss? Not to truss? Do I really need to stuff the cavity of the bird with oranges and rosemary until my kitchen smells like an Aveda salon? What about this whole “stuff things under the skin” movement? I’m telling you, a body could get overwhelmed.

And then a friend gifted me a cookbook that contained a rather magical recipe. A method of roasting a whole chicken that soothed all my poultry-based fears. There is absolutely no special equipment or thermometer involved, no kitchen twine, and no guesswork whatsoever. And the chicken it yields is wonderfully juicy throughout, while managing to boast a skin so crispy you worry it might shatter when you put a knife to it.

I knew the minute I pulled this golden beauty from the oven for the first time that all my chicken-roasting phobias had been assuaged. This recipe can be adapted any number of ways — I’ve represented it here in its most basic glory, with just salt and pepper. If you’re partial to gravy, simply put the roasting pan over a burner while the chicken rests on a cutting board and use the drippings to make a quick pan gravy. Keeping it simple? Serve some halved lemons at the table. But for me, this is one of my favorite dinners simply carved (white meat for the hubs, dark meat forever for me), some drippings spooned over the chicken and the proverbial simple green salad served on the side. I mean, come on. In the words of a certain fellow roasted chicken enthusiast…“How easy was that?”

Foolproof Roasted Chicken

Adapted, just slightly, from Barbara Kafka via Food 52


1 whole chicken (5-6 lb, rinsed, dried and brought to room temperature

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Place an oven rack on the second from the bottom insert in your oven. The other rack you can insert into the top slot or remove from the oven entirely. The idea is to give yourself as much room as possible when you’re removing the bird from a super hot oven.

While the chicken is coming to room temperature, preheat your oven to 500 F.

Place the chicken in a low-sided, oven safe dish. Using kitchen shears, trim off the wing tips, any exposed neckbone, and the excess flaps of skin near the tail. Discard any extra parts that might be hanging out in the cavity of the bird. Season the chicken all over with plenty of salt and pepper. Don’t put anybody in the hospital, but it’s pretty difficult to over-salt a chicken. Slide the chicken into the oven on that lower rack so that the legs (which cook more slowly) are toward the very back of the oven. Close the oven door and set the timer for 10 minutes. Once it goes off, remove the chicken and slide a metal spatula under the chicken on all sides, loosening it from the pan. If you skip this step, the chicken will stick to the bottom something awful, trust me. Put the chicken back in the oven and roast an additional 45 minutes.

Rest at least 10-15 minutes before carving. For the best flavor, spoon some of the drippings over the chicken when serving.

Serves 4 as a main course.

3 thoughts on “Foolproof Roasted Chicken”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *