Roasting a chicken. It seems so basic. It SHOULD be so basic. And yet, I have tried zillions (yes, zillions!) of different methods to achieve the ultimate roasted chicken: crispy skin, and juicy meat.
I’ve made compound butters with lemon zest, different herbs, and garlic, and painstakingly massaged them into the pocket created by loosening the skin from the meat. Great flavor, mushy skin.
I’ve brined in multiple solutions. I’ve brined overnight and then air-dried in the fridge for a day before roasting. That one was actually really good, but not something I’m likely to do on a weeknight with a toddler wreaking havoc while I have raw chicken hands.
I’ve basted and stuffed things in the cavity and put things in the roasting pan along with the chicken and used oil instead of butter and used clarified butter and special roasting bags and starting with a high temperature oven and then later turning it down and starting with a lower temperature oven and then turning it up…I’ve tried it all, with varying degrees of success.
None of these methods were bad….but none of them were great.
The last time I visited my dad, he made a roasted chicken for dinner. I was in the kitchen with him, chatting and chopping potatoes, and I noticed that he just sprinkled some salt on the bird, and put it in the oven.
::insert stunned face here::
In my teenageriest voice, I was all, “Daaaaad. You’re not going to add anything else to that? Butter/oil/herbs/lemon wedges/garlic/etc.?” And he was like, “Nope.” And I was like….”Huh.”
And it turned out finger lickin’ good. Crispy skin and tender juicy meat. And and and and aaaaand, it was stupid easy! No time consuming fussy stuff. Just add salt and apply heat.
My dad does his on a broiler pan, but I hate cleaning those things, so I do it in a large high-walled pan. You can do it in a roasting pan, as long as it’s an appropriate size for the chicken. Don’t use the roasting pan you use for a 20 lb turkey! The fat and juices will burn on the bottom of the pan, and it will make your house smell awful and be impossible to clean. Trust me.
Here’s the recipe, if you can really call it that!
- Whole chicken, approx. 3 lbs
- Kosher salt
- Place rack at lowest position in oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Rinse chicken and pat dry. Really dry! If there are giblets or a neck, save those for stock! Trim excess fat. Place in pan.
- Tuck wings back. (Imagine the chicken hanging out at the pool, getting some sun, and she puts her arms back behind her head to nap on a lounge chair. Like that.) Truss legs (Just tie them together with some butchers twine) if you wish.
- Sprinkle liberally with salt. (To achieve better coverage with less salt, hold your salting hand 8-12 inches above the chicken.)
- Put chicken in oven on lowest rack, and cook until golden brown and the meaty part of the thigh registers 165 degrees, about 50-80 minutes.
- Let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting. Use that time to make a pan gravy!