Simplest Roast Chicken

I’ll admit it: When it comes to making roast chicken, I’m lazy. There are techniques that have you rotating the bird every few minutes so that it turns browns evenly, but I like to pop it in the oven and not think about it again (aside from swooning over the scent) until the timer goes off for good. And good—very good—is what we’ve found this bird to be. You don’t have to use an organic, free-range chicken, but we’ve found that it pays off in both flavor and juiciness.

simplest-roast-chicken-recipe1 (3-1/2 pound) good-quality chicken (take this to mean what you like: free-range, locally-raised, organic . . . just preferably not a brine-injected, mass-produced one)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 thyme sprigs
1 lemon, halved lengthwise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Gently work your fingertips under the breast, leg and thigh, and rub meat with salt and pepper (I like to fill a separate little ramekin with a mix of salt and pepper to do this so I don’t get my pepper grinder all chicken-y). Sprinkle more salt and pepper on top of skin and in cavity. Stuff the thyme sprigs under the skin and the lemon halves into the cavity.

Roast on a V-rack in a roasting pan, breast side up, for 60-75 minutes, until the legs pull away easily and the juices run clear. Let chicken stand at room temperature for 15 minutes (tent it with foil to keep it warm) before carving.

Serves 4


9 Replies to “Simplest Roast Chicken”

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  3. What is the purpose of putting so much salt in and on the chicken meat? Doesn’t that draw out the juices and dry out the meat? I do mine breast side down in a Nesco roaster. The juices all flow downward into the breast area, and it is unbelievably moist. A sprig of herb sounds like a nice addition. Must try that.

    • Thanks for asking, Judilyn. There are all kinds of scientific answers for why to salt meat, most of which revolve around the salt helping the cells retain moisture, which makes the meat juicier. I’ve found that, but I’ve also found that rubbing a salt and pepper mixture both under the skin and sprinkling a bit on top seasons both the skin (and makes it super crisp) and the meat all the way through. Note, I’m definitely not talking an exorbitant amount of salt … only about 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons. I’ll be curious to hear what you think! I’ll be that Nesco roaster comes in handy at Thanksgiving … 😉

    • GREAT question, Charlotte! A V-rack is literally a raised wire rack shaped like a v that fits in your roasting pan, and lets air circulate around the chicken. If you don’t have one, I’d recommend laying the chicken down a bed of “stalks” … any old kind will do, celery, fennel, even carrots.

      Hope that helps!

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