Roast chickens are totally misunderstood. Often thought to be difficult or unapproachable, I find them to be one of the easiest meals to prepare. In fact, they're often a go-to for me when I don't actually feel like cooking but want a from-scratch comforting meal. Plus, it's no coincidence that magazine after magazine noted, if there's one dish in the entire world that could generate a proposal out of someone, it's a perfectly roasted chicken.
Here's why a roast chicken needs to be in your repertoire:
- No cooking prior to roasting.
- The oven does all the work.
- Veggies/starch are cooked in the same pan, at the same time.
- Crispy skin.
- Ummm crispy skin.
There's quite the dispute on how to achieve the perfect roast chicken; after all, every cook has their own foolproof method . . . Only salt and pepper. Only butter. Only olive oil. Butter and olive oil. Stuff the cavity with aromatics. An even high temperature. High temp, low temp. Every method is the absolute only way to roast a chicken.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret . . . there is no "right" method.
My preferred — not necessarily right — method is smothering a dry bird with softened butter and a liberal dousing of salt. I then stuff the cavity with onion, garlic, and lemon to infuse as much flavor into the meat as possible. Roasting at a superhigh temperature for a short period of time ensures a supercrispy skin, and then the temperature is reduced to keep the chicken moist and tender. Simple as can be.
This time, instead of smothering the skin with plain butter, I switched things up a bit by mixing the softened butter with some lemon zest and fennel fronds. The bottom of the pan is lined with russet potato wedges, sliced fennel, and Spanish olives, completing the meal.
Comfort food at its finest.
This perfectly roasted chicken is something that needs to be in every cook's repertoire. So moist and juicy, with the crispiest skin!
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon fennel fronds
1 lemon plus 1 teaspoon lemon zest
5 pound whole chicken
2 large potatoes, cut into wedges
Fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Spanish olives
3 garlic cloves
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Combine butter, fennel fronds, and zest. Smother over chicken and under skin. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the potatoes in the bottom of the roasting pan, add the roasting rack and the chicken on top of that, and cook for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat and add sliced fennel, olives, onion, and garlic to the potatoes. Cook for another 50-60 minutes until chicken is cooked through, tossing the vegetables a couple times throughout the process. The internal temperature should be 165°F and any juices from the chicken should be clear.
- Let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
- Main Dishes, Game
- North American
- Serves 4-6