Roasting a chicken is a culinary feat I used to think was reserved for better chefs than I. But this recipe easily yields a perfectly cooked, succulent chicken and is actually much simpler than many other dishes I take on. There are a couple tricks that make this recipe a cut above the rest – brining the chicken is the main key to its juiciness, and cooking at a high oven temperature turns the skin a fabulous crispy golden brown. This is also a recipe with a lot of downtime, so you have the opportunity to take care of some of those chores you’ve been putting off while the chicken is brining, in the oven, or resting.
I’m pretty lucky because my boyfriend also loves to cook, and this is one of his favorite recipes. There’s nothing quite like coming home to a chicken slowly turning golden brown in the oven. With the chicken resting on top of onions, carrots, potatoes, and celery, the fat and seasonings from the chicken perfectly flavor the vegetables beneath it. We like to eat a simple meal of roast chicken and veggies when we make this and then save the leftover chicken for use in other dishes (like Summer Succotash or Jerk Chicken Chili).
The Perfect Roast Chicken
Yield: 6 – 8 servings
- 8 cups water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 – 5 lb chicken
- seasoning of choice (see below)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 3 large potatoes, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- Combine 8 cups water, 1 cup kosher salt, and 1 cup sugar; stir until salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Remove the gizzards from the chicken (a recipe for preparing the gizzards is forthcoming) and place the chicken in a large pot or bowl, then pour the brine over the chicken and store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and as long as 12 hours.
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
- In a large roasting pan, spread 1 large onion, diced, 2 large carrots, diced, 3 large potatoes, diced, and 2 stalks celery, diced.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, pour off the brine, and rinse the chicken with cold water.
- Rub the chicken with your seasoning of choice, making sure to get it under the skin (without breaking it) and inside the chicken.
- Place the chicken on top of the veggies in the roasting pan.
- Roast in oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until skin is golden brown. Then flip the chicken (tongs are ideal for this task) and stir up the veggies before returning to the oven for another 15 – 20 minutes or until the skin is golden brown.
- Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees and roast for 15 more minutes or until a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees. If needed, tent foil over the chicken to prevent the skin from burning. You can baste the chicken occasionally if desired, but keep in mind that this will prevent the skin from getting nice and crisp.
- Let the chicken rest for 30 minutes before carving.
Here are three seasoning options for your chicken, but don’t be scared to experiment too!
Place 4 – 5 cloves garlic, peeled and halved and a couple sprigs rosemary under the skin and inside the cavity of the chicken.
Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (adapted from We Are Never Full)
Make a paste by mixing together 2 Tbsp ground allspice (freshly ground, if possible, for the best flavor), 1 Tbsp ground thyme, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced, 2 Scotch bonnet peppers, minced, 1/2 cup cilantro, minced, 2 Tbsp lime juice, 1 Tbsp olive oil, and 1 tsp soy sauce. Rub the paste under the skin and inside the cavity of the chicken.
Spicy Mexican Seasoning
Make a paste by mixing together 1 large chipotle pepper, minced, 1 large jalapeno pepper, minced, 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced, and 1 Tbsp honey. Rub the paste under the skin and inside the cavity of the chicken.