Roasted chicken is one of my favorite ways to eat meat. It smells wonderful while it’s cooking, the meat is juicy and flavorful, and the skin is crispy and salty. This recipe is close to fool-proof as long as you’re following the few simple instructions, and it takes less than 10 minutes hands-on time. We roast two chickens at once and either use what we didn’t eat for dinner in recipes during the next week or freeze it for future meals.
I made roasted chicken pieces at my parents’ house when we were visiting in July and set several rosemary sprigs over the top of the pans. The chicken had a wonderful of rosemary flavor and the kitchen smelled amazing. If you have rosemary, I highly suggest this addition. When I made the chickens in these photos, I tried the same idea with sage instead of rosemary but totally failed. I couldn’t even smell the sage while it was in the oven, much less taste the flavor in the chickens. Feel free to try out different herbs – I suspect that the woodier ones will hold up better than the more delicate ones.
My favorite brand of chicken is Draper Valley. They are local to our area (Oregon and Washington), don’t use antibiotics or feed their chickens animal by-products, and raise their chickens humanely. Normal prices for whole Draper Valley chickens are about $1.20-$1.60 per pound in my area, which is a little expensive in my opinion. QFC often has them on sale, though, during any season but summer, for $0.69 or $0.79 per pound. I like to buy two for roasting immediately and then several more to put in the freezer for later.
one or two whole chickens
kosher or sea salt
optional – freshly ground pepper
optional – cayenne or other seasoning
optional – several sprigs of rosemary or other fresh herbs
Wash chickens thoroughly and remove giblets. Drain well and pat very dry (this is a crucial step; don’t skip it). Place chickens on a roasting rack (best) or in a shallow pan, touching each other as little as possible. If you’re planning to eat the skin, season generously with salt and whatever other seasonings you desire. Optionally, lay some rosemary sprigs in the pan, over the tops of the chickens or inside the body cavities. Do not cover.
Roast the chickens in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue roasting. Roasting times will vary depending on the size of your chickens. A general rule of thumb is to roast the chickens for 15 minutes at 450 and then 20 minutes per pound at 350. (This calculation applies to the individual chickens – for example, if you are roasting two 5-pound chickens, you would roast them for 15 minutes at 450 and then 20min x 5lb = 1 hour and 40 minutes at 350.) In any case, the chickens are done when the juices run clear when a knife is inserted into the joint between the leg and thigh or the temperature at the same joint is 165 degrees. Let the chickens sit 10-15 minutes for the juices to settle before carving.
This recipe is easily adaptable to chicken pieces instead of a whole chicken, as long as your chicken pieces still have the skin still attached (this recipe will not work with boneless skinless breasts). Place the chicken pieces in a shallow pan, preferably with a rack so that the juices can drain, either not touching or barely touching. Arrange the skin so that it’s covering as much of each piece as possible. Season as desired if you’re planning to eat the skin; don’t bother if you’re not. Again, do not cover. Decrease the roasting times to 10 minutes at 450 and 20 minutes or more at 350, depending on the size and type of chicken pieces you are roasting.
Finally, save those bones and giblets! Use them for making super-easy broth in your slow cooker or on the stove (recipe to come!).