Basic whole roasted chicken has become a staple in our little household. The smell of a whole chicken cooking in the oven is divine. It creates this nice homey feel that wraps me in a warm blanket. The crispy skin covering juicy chicken meat is simple, yet nothing short of delicious.
If you are intimidated by the thought of cooking a whole chicken, don’t be. It just takes a little knowledge and practice to get it right. The salt and pepper really add so much flavor to the meat and help to lock the moisture in. Stuffing the chicken with the lemon and garlic also helps to keep the meat nice and juicy. The smell and flavors of the lemon and garlic are infused throughout each bite of the meat. Once I began using this method for basic chicken, I never looked back. It is simplicity at its finest.
Are wondering why you would want to mess with cooking a whole chicken when you can just get chicken pieces? Let me tell you.
Saves money: Buying a whole chicken instead of chicken pieces gives you a better bang for your buck.
Leftovers: This one is a big one for me. Even though I love to cook, I still appreciate an easy meal that I can simply reheat. I love to use the cold chicken in my salads all week long.
Fresher taste: I have truly found whole chickens tend to have fresher tasting meat. I bet it’s because they are handled less than the chicken pieces are.
Chicken stock: Do not throw that chicken carcass away! It makes delicious and nutritious stock that can be a base for any soup. Simply throw the bones into a bag and stick it in the freezer until you are ready to make the stock. This also helps to stretch your money: no more boxed chicken broth! (Recipe for chicken stock is coming soon).
The aroma: The smell of the chicken cooking makes me feel all comforted, warm, and homey inside! And Hungry.
Have I convinced you of the reasons why you should try cooking a whole chicken? If I haven’t yet, just try it. I promise it’s not too scary. Your efforts will be greatly rewarded with simple, tender, juicy chicken all week long!
- 1 whole chicken; gizzards, neck, and liver removed
- 1 to 1 ½ tablespoon salt (more if you have a larger chicken)
- 2 teaspoons finely ground pepper
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 whole garlic, cut in half
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Get everything that you need for the chicken ready so that you don’t have to wash your hands a million times. Mix the salt and pepper in a small bowl, get your lemon and garlic cut and get a 6-inch piece of cooking twine cut. Have ready a roasting pan with a rack. *
- Prepare your chicken by patting the chicken dry with paper towels. Don’t skip this step; it really helps to create crispy skin.
- Sprinkle a good amount of the salt and pepper mixture in the cavity of the bird. This may sound strange, but trust me, it makes a difference in how moist and flavorful the entire meat of the bird is. Rub the remainder of the salt and pepper on the entire skin of the bird.
- Stuff the larger opening of the cavity with the lemon and garlic. It’s okay to pack it in there tight.
- Next, use the kitchen twine to tie the thighs together. You simply cross the drumsticks over top of each other. This ensures that the thigh meat cooks evenly with the body of the bird. Place the bird breast-side up on the rack of your roasting pan and tuck the tips of the wings under so they don’t burn.
- Cover the bird with tin foil. Place in the oven and roast for about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove the foil so that the skin gets crispy and cook for about 30 minutes more. The bird should cook for a total of about 2 hours, depending on the weight of your chicken. The internal temperature should be at 160 degrees and the skin should be crisp and golden brown.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes before carving. This helps to lock the juices inside the bird. Carve the entire bird while it is still warm; the meat comes off a lot easier than when the bird is cold.
- Save the carcass, bones, and garlic for homemade chicken stock (recipe coming soon). Simply put everything in a gallon Ziploc bag and store it in the freezer until you are ready to make stock!