Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stay home, and eat better: Quick Roast Chicken

I want to take some time this month and discuss a few basic food techniques that might help many of you in the kitchen.  Today's topic is: Roast Chicken. 

Not the ones you pick up at the grocery, which have been sitting under heat lamps in plastic since mid-afternoon, but rather, the one's you cook yourself. 

At Home, in YOUR oven.


I know, it's been awhile.  Maybe you don't remember how to roast a whole bird; maybe you think it takes too long; or maybe you forgot how good whole chicken can be. 

I have two points to make: 

1. Fresh/Frozen whole chickens are economical. 

I buy my chickens in bulk from a local farm, but the price can run from $ .98/lb. at the superstore chains to $1.69 lb. or more at the natural store chains.  Of course, the more human hands touch your chicken, the higher the price per pound. That explains why you will pay $4.99- $8.99 per pound for boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I will spare you my thoughts on boneless, skinless chicken ...(but think about how much time and effort you spend trying to make it taste like something special, when all you had to do was LEAVE the skin and bones on...,I know, I said I would not talk about it..).

2. There are a few techniques I will show you to cut the roasting time of your chicken in half, to about 30-35 minutes. And while you are at it and the oven is on, you might as well throw a few more whole chickens in and use them the rest of the week in lunches, stews or quick pasta dinners. 

Quick Roast Chicken

1  3 1/2-4 lb chicken 
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbl olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (if using meyer lemons seed and dice the whole lemon)
Fresh Thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 cloves minced garlic

Heat your oven to 450 degrees. 
Preheat an oven safe skillet on the stovetop for 5 minutes on medium to medium high**
** if you do not have an oven safe skillet, transfer your chickens to a sheet pan that has 1-inch sides, then place in the oven.

Mix salt, pepper, oil, lemons, thyme and garlic in bowl and set aside.

Rinse Chicken and pat dry. Using large sharp knife or kitchen shear, remove the backbone from the chicken (put the backbone in a freezer bag, freeze and save for making stock...YES, you will make stock on a later date!) Next, cut the wing tips off at the first joint (save for stock).

Now, turn the chicken over, skin side down on the board and score the cartilage between the breastbone. Turn the chicken over, skin side is up, and flatten out.

Unfortunately, this chicken was missing a whole wing so I cut the other side off to make it look even.

Next, rub the whole chicken with the oil/lemon mixture. I also lift up the skin and coat under the breast, thighs and legs.

Now, carefully place chicken, skin side down on preheated skillet and cook for 5 minutes.

Using tongs and a large spoon turn the chicken over, and place chicken in your preheated 450 degree oven, for 25-30 minutes. Chicken is ready when a meat thermometer reaches 170-180 degrees. I usually take mine out at 160-165 but then, I am a risk taker. If you don't have a temp gauge, pierce the meat on the breast AND thigh and if the juices run clear, it's ready.


Let the chicken rest about 5 minutes before you cut into it. (Don't forget to save and freeze the cooked chicken carcass, and YES, you will use it in a different stock at a later date...!) 


Chef Deb


Anonymous said...

I enjoy chicken this way all the time on my smoker.....can't wait to try it in the oven on my skillet. One question though....I always remove the breastbone, but you mention to just cut and flip. Do you remove the breastbone or leave it in? Thanks.

Anonymous said...


What local farm do you purchase your chickens from?


Chef Deb T said...

Great question. No need to remove breastbone, just score and split, it will stay in one piece. Leaving the breastbone in, ensures even cooking of the whole bird. The Breast will cook too quickly if the bone is removed , leaving you with undercooked thighs. Looking at the photo, notice the chicken appears to be an even thickness?

A good rule of thumb is, if you remove the breastbone, you should remove the thighbones as well.

Thanks for the question.

Chef Deb
p.s. I love smoking chickens..I have been experimenting with cinnamon and green teas too, have you tried these methods?

Chef Deb T said...

I buy from "Wisdom's Natural Poultry". They have great birds. If you have ever had chicken at Boulder's "The Kitchen" then you have tasted a Wisdom bird.

It is cheaper to buy in Bundles of 10 (they are still more expensive then most stores). The quality is wonderful, they're local, and you can save trips to the store if you buy them at one time.

Here is the link:

Chef Deb