The Allure of Roast Chicken

March 08, 2011|By Jasmine Wiggins

Lying in bed, the boyfriend and I debated dinner.

“I could roast a chicken,” I said.

“Roast a chicken? Why don’t we just get Thai food?” he asked.

“Because,” I said, “this is the best roast chicken you’ve ever had in your life.”

He eyed me skeptically. After a few hours and complaints that he was growing hungry, he shuffled over to the stove and stared at the browned bird. He sawed off a piece when I wasn’t looking.

“That’s effing good!” he boomed.

I turned around. I didn’t know it was that good. #Winning.

You may think the same way my boyfriend did. Roast chicken? How ordinary. I say it is anything but. Why? I’ll tell you. Roast chicken has powers beyond normal comprehension. The aroma of rosemary, garlic, and chicken, sizzling together in the oven can make you weak in the knees and can make even the staunchest of vegetarians reconsider for a moment. Roast chicken says “home,” it reminds you of mom or grandma, and it is the ultimate comfort food. I believe if you know only how to cook a few things, roast chicken is among the top 10.

Other reasons to roast a chicken:


  1. Value- It is cost effective to buy a whole chicken, rather than its parts (Yes, I am talking to all you boneless-skinless chicken breast fanatics). After you’ve had your fill of chicken, you can then turn the leftover bones and carcass into a homemade chicken broth that is flavorful and cheaper alternative to the canned stuff.
  2. It’s easy- It is fairly simple to throw a chicken in the oven. Anyone can do it, even the novice cook.
  3. It’s versatile - You can make tacos, the next night for dinner, or soup, or sandwiches... See where I’m going with this?
  4. It’s impressive- I often use roast chicken to solve many of life’s problems. If someone I’m dating doesn’t want to commit, I roast a chicken. If I need to impress  company, or I’m making dinner for friends, I roast a chicken. It never fails, and I always whip out this trusty recipe.


Rosemary Garlic Roast Chicken

What makes this chicken different from other roast chickens, is that this recipe puts the oil, herbs and spices underneath the skin of the chicken. It keeps the chicken nice and moist and imparts good flavor.

Courage- You’ll need some of this if this is your first chicken. Fear not. It’s not as scary as you think. I mean, just don’t drop it on the floor and you’re good.

1 small chicken, about 3-3 1/2 pounds
1 head of garlic
1 lemon
1 Bunch fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp paprika + more for seasoning
1 onion
Olive oil

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will ensure even cooking. Preheat  oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare a roasting pan by coating it with olive oil so the chicken won’t stick. Slice half a white onion, and place the rings on the bottom of the pan.

Remove packet of organs. Rinse the chicken in cool water and pat dry. Make sure it is dry. This is the key to crispy skin. Set the chicken down on a cutting board or somewhere that will make it easy for you to work with it.

Combine the juice of half a lemon, about 3 TBS olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp paprika, about 2 TBS of fresh chopped rosemary and 4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped in a dish.

Salt and pepper the cavity of the chicken.

Loosen the skin of the chicken by placing your fingers between the skin and flesh. (I know, if you’re not used to this, it’s a little weird, but I swear you’ll thank me later). Be careful when doing this because you don’t want to tear the skin.

Now, this gets a little tricky. Use one hand to pull the skin up, and the other to pour the lemon, olive oil mixture under the skin of the chicken. Smooth it around so that the chicken is well-coated. Make sure to really work the mixture around the whole chicken, the legs and thighs too. The more places you can cover, the more flavorful it will be.


Coarsely chop the other half of that onion and put inside the chicken. Place the other half of the lemon, a few fresh rosemary sprigs, and about 4 cloves of crushed garlic inside the cavity.

Carefully holding the chicken up generously salt and pepper the underside of the chicken. Place the chicken down in the pan. Add generous amounts of salt and pepper all over the chicken. Spring with paprika. Sprinkle fresh rosemary on top of chicken. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil. You can truss the chicken if you wish. I never do, although it does make for a prettier presentation. Just be sure to tuck the wings of the chicken underneath if you do nothing else.

Cook the chicken in a 375 degree oven for about 1 hour, 45 minutes to 2 hours. Baste every half hour or so. Keep an eye on it. Cooking times will vary. Your meat thermometer should read 165 degrees when it’s done and juices should run clear. Ta-da! That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Companion recipe posts to follow.

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