To some it may seem silly to be doing a blog post purely on a simple roast chicken, but in my experience, most people my age wouldn’t even know where to start. To be honest, until recently I was a little clueless myself. I’m not much of a meat eater (I really only started eating it because I have a husband who most definitely is a meat eater) so I’m less experienced at preparing meat than you may expect, given the amount of time I spend in the kitchen.
I set out to overcome my grossed-out feelings about handling something with squishy skin that feels remarkably like a human infant, and perfect a classic roast chicken. I tried several different techniques to hone in on what I liked best, but also made it my mission to keep it as simple and quick as possible. I have since started throwing a whole chicken in the oven on Sunday nights to make lunches and dinners easier for the first few days of each week.
Don’t let the prospect of a full bird turn you off. I’ve outlined full instructions in the recipe below so it will only take you a matter of minutes to prep and pretty much an hour on the nose to cook. It’s honestly so delicious with the rich butter-herb sauce that even the pickiest of meat eaters (i.e. me) would eat it every day.
Classic Roast Chicken
For the chicken:
- 4-5 pound whole chicken
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 onion
- 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon salt
For the sauce:
- 2 teaspoons chopped shallot
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon each of chopped parsley, tarragon, and chives
- Squeeze of lemon juice
Preheat oven to 450°F. Position the whole chicken, breast-side up, on the rack in a roasting pan. Reach inside the bird, remove the small bag of giblets, and discard. Stuff the onion and lemon as deep inside the cavity as possible.
Using a paper towel, pat the exterior of the chicken to remove as much moisture as possible from the skin. Use your hands to smear the butter in a thick layer all over the top, sides, and crevices of the bird. Sprinkle the salt over the buttered areas – you should have a visible crust of salt.
Transfer the pan to the oven and roast, uncovered, for 1 hour or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads at least 165°F. Baste the chicken with the pan juices periodically during cooking. Transfer the whole roasted chicken to a carving board an allow to rest for 10 minutes.
While resting, set the rack aside and place the roasting pan on the stove over medium-low heat to create the sauce. Add the shallots and butter and sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to scrape up the brown bits and incorporate the juices. Position a fine mesh sieve over a small dish and carefully pour the mixture through the sieve to remove chunks. Add the herbs and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the filtered mixture, whisking to combine.
Slice the chicken and serve with the warm herb sauce.
Refine Cooking Tips
- I recommend preheating your oven 45 minutes before you begin roasting to ensure it is completely up to temperature.
- I highly recommend using a pan that allows for a lifted roasting rack since it helps to cook the chicken evenly and creates a larger surface area of crisped skin. That said, you can easily roast it in a cast iron pan or any oven-safe dish that fits.
- Transfer the cooked chicken from the roasting pan to the carving board by removing the lemon and onion from the cavity, inserting the handle of a long wooden spoon and lifting.
- You can ultimately use any combination of fresh herbs in your sauce, but do not skip the tarragon! It creates a distinct flavor that is not to be missed.