Oven-roasting a chicken requires as few as two ingredients: salt and of course the bird itself. Once the bird is seasoned, just put it into a hot oven; the skin will turn golden brown and crisp as the tender meat cooks. That’s it; that’s really all it takes.
But shall I go on? Fine, if you insist.
Chicken is one of the most versatile meats in the world, and roast chicken in particular is one of the most versatile dishes. It can be seasoned any way your palate desires; all that matters is that the basic technique stays the same. Here is a quick breakdown of the four essential steps for roasting a chicken.
Step 1: Season
The only necessary ingredient here is salt. Salt not only flavors the bird, but it also helps to dehydrate the skin to help it crispen during cooking. Season the bird generously with salt both in the cavity (tip it on its end to be able to reach all the way inside) and on the outside. Scoop tablespoon-sized amounts of salt in one hand, hold six to eight inches above from the bird, and then move your fingers back and forth to shower the chicken in an even layer of salt. For food safety, pour salt and pre-crack the pepper into a small dishes so that you can avoid cross contamination when handling the raw bird.
The rest of the seasoning is up to you: lemon, butter, vegetables, spices, what have you. Click here for step-by-step video instruction on how to season a chicken and place your own personal twist on the dish.
Step 2: Truss (Optional)
Trussing the chicken, that is tying the legs together with twine, is almost entirely for aesthetics (Julia Child once famously said that it was so the chicken wouldn't look "wanton"). It brings all of the meat together and attractively plumps the bird. Trussing also helps the thighs and breast to cook more evenly — but if you find yourself without some kitchen twine, don’t worry about it; trussing isn't essential.
Step 3: Roast
By culinary definition, roasting means cooking with hot, dry air. Depending on the temperature of your oven and the size of your bird, a whole roast chicken will take about 50 minutes or just a little over an hour to cook. You'll want to roast the bird until the juices between the thigh and breast run clear and/or the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. The following collection also includes recipes for cooking just thighs or drumsticks as well as the whole bird, but the same principles apply.
Step 4: Rest
After roasting, the chicken skin will stay crispy if you remove it from the pan and place it on a wire rack; air will be able to circulate around the bird and the skin won’t go soggy in the chicken juices.
If there is one dish you can really put your own signature twist on, this would be it. Get creative in the kitchen and whip up an impressive-looking main course. For inspiration, check out this collection of 14 drool-worthy roast chicken recipes.