Roast chicken can be intimidating, but don’t let it be. All it takes is a little planning ahead. In fact, although it does take a while in the oven, the hands on actual work time is minimal, which makes it a fine option for even a weeknight and another great main dish to teach the kids how to make or at least how to prep. Once you throw it in the oven, you have an hour to make a salad, or just sit and chill.
I happen to have access to some really nice yardbird as my next door neighbor at the farmer’s market is Law Ranch Cattle Co. I buy a half chicken more weeks than not lately. It is plenty for our family of 3 with generous leftovers, which you always want with roast chicken. Here’s what I do with it.
Day (or even 2) before roasting, make a brine for the chicken. Dissolve 1/2 cup kosher salt in some warm water. Place the chicken in a 2 gallon zip top bag. Add a couple quarts cold water to the bag. Add the brine. Then, top off with enough cold water to completely cover the chicken. Place the whole thing in a large bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready to roast the chicken the next day.
Tic-tock, it’s tomorrow. Preheat the oven to 475F. Grab a roasting dish and an assortment of aromatic veg. Onions, celery, garlic, carrots, maybe a lemon or orange. Any combo you like or have at hand. In the photo here, I used onions and lemons. Slice them thickly and lay in the bottom of your dish. This is your disposable roasting rack! Sprinkle the chicken with black pepper and place on top of the veg. Drizzle with olive oil, or rub with butter, or not. The butter gives a nice, golden, crispy skin, but it’s optional.
Place the dish in the 475F oven. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 425F and continue cooking for another 40-50 minutes, until juices run clear or a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 185F.
Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
There is nothing like a juicy, tender, roast chicken. And it is the perfect leftover meal. For summer, I love to have it with a salad and bread. Tonight, I added sliced peaches, rosemary-raisin crisps, and blue cheese dressing to the salad. Summer win!