Roast chicken is a meal that everyone should learn to cook and then make it again and again until it’s their very own beautiful creation. That is exactly what I have done here. I have watched my family make turkeys and chickens and learned little tricks and preferences for taste along the way. I’ve read books and the recipes of others and continued to cook until I found a way that I love enough to serve to my family on repeat and now share with you all.
Roast chicken is suitable for all seasons of the year. I don’t save this for special occasions – I tend to purchase whole chickens when I need something economical that will yield meals for the weeks to come.
I provide the recipe here, but as always, please adapt to your needs. As for the rub, use what spices you have and eliminate the cayenne powder if this is too much spice for your preference. I do not know why mayonnaise makes the skin so crispy, but it is my personal preference and I find that it does not burn or smoke as olive oil might.
When it comes to stuffing the bird, I would hate to see you – or myself – waste good vegetables or citrus fruit. When I say to use lemons, I typically am using lemons that have already been used, such as squeezed into my water or other dishes at some point. It is okay to stuff or lay the bird over scraps and skins if you don’t have the double-layered tray.
I think of cooking the roasted chicken as striving to be economical as possible: the bird will give me it’s all, and I will make the most out of the ingredients that surround it. I plan for about a week before making the bird, saving all my scraps and skins and stems so that it can go into the making of the meat and the bone broth afterward.
I need to clarify that I cannot give timing suggestions that I can stand by as my oven is not very functional and so I must go by sight and smell. I have prepared a link for you to check the time for the weight of the bird you have. The vegetables I use are subject to change every single time I serve this dish – this time, I happened to use boiled leeks and carrots lightly roasted in ghee and butter. I do not salt, let alone use any herbs or other spices on these vegetables. The seasoning from the bird and gravy is enough in itself and any more would be overpowering. Please use the vegetables that either you prefer or are available or seasonal in your area. Boiled potatoes or carrots are always a great and economical choice for this meal.
Roast Chicken with Crispy, Seasoned Skin
To marinate the bird
- A rub mixture of table salt, paprika, garlic powder, pepper, marjoram, and rosemary, black pepper, and cayenne powder (optional). I’ve lately been using Brathuhn Gewürzsaltz, a mixture found in Austrian grocery stores, that generally contains this exact mixture – either way, this is what I use.
For stuffing and surrounding the bird:
- Lemons, carrots, onions, and celery
- If I have one, or a few of these items, or simply cannot spare some, I just mix and match.
- If I have items such as cauliflower leaves, stems of herbs, garlic/onion skins, and so on, I often sit the bird over a little bed of these for additional flavor and moisture. Really, any vegetable scraps do just fine.
- What I always do is halve a head of garlic horizontally, lightly drizzle it with olive oil, and set in the same tray as the chicken. That way, I get roasted garlic at the same time. Take the garlic out before it gets too browned, though!
Preparing the bird:
- Remove any innards that may remain. Examine the bird, plucking out any remaining feathers.
- Stuff of the bird with lemons, celery, onions, carrots (use a combination or a choice of a few, depending on your availability).
- Slice a few thin pieces of butter. At the nape of where the neck would be, the skin should be able to lift, so slide a few pieces of butter between the meat and skin. If you think you might tear the skin in the effort, move on.
- Lather a thin layer of mayonnaise over the entire bird, getting in between the legs and wings.
- Apply the seasoning all over the bird including underneath.
- Stick a slice of butter between each wing and leg.
- Place the bird either onto a roasting tray or a lipped oven-safe dish over a bed of some vegetables Place the halved garlic into the tray along with some quartered onions, carrots, and/or celery (per availability)
- Cook time: Disclaimer – My oven does not function properly, and thus I do not have a standard for timing per weight. Check the readiness by slicing between the leg and body, to see the color of the meat and whether the juices are running clear. If the meat is white and the juices are running clear, it is likely to be finished. Please refer to this timer to check your exact weight and appropriate timing: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/roast-timer
- Let rest for twenty minutes or more depending on the size. I find that the more the bird rests, the easier it is to disjoint it later for bone broth, which I have detailed how to make if you click the link.
Gravy & Serving
- To make the gravy, remove the bird from the roasting tray and pour the juices into a pan over medium-low heat. Begin to stir. Add a little water, followed by some flour and whisk to prevent clumping.
- Continue to toy with the levels of flour and water – although the amount of juices that are created from this bird and the surrounding vegetables will do most of the work for you. Add a little Worcestershire and black pepper if the additional flavor suites you. Continue to stir until its the consistency you like.
- I prefer to serve the chicken with boiled or lightly roasted vegetables. To these, I add no additional salt or spice.
Other great ways to serve:
- Let cool. Slice meat. Use for sandwiches.
- Chicken salad (torn chicken; mix with mayonnaise, salt, pepper, chili flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, paprika, a splash of vinegar, and maybe chopped red onion or shallots – I like mine spicy)
- Served with roasted or mashed potatoes.
- Served with grilled or vegetables.
- Over cheesy polenta.
- Soup – chicken noodle, vegetable, soup with polenta or rice (add to the bone broth)