I'm not what you'd call an ambitious cook -- I tend to make the same uncomplicated dishes over and over -- but even so, there’s no excuse for my having gotten this far in life without learning how to roast a chicken.
Okay, I was a vegetarian for fifteen years, but still, even after I started eating meat again, I limited myself to those safe little disembodied chicken parts. Cooking a whole chicken seemed kind of, I don’t know, serious. Besides, there’s only two of us in our household. What do we need with an entire bird?
Recently, though, a friend pointed out the error of my ways, explaining how easy, tasty, and economical it is to roast a chicken. If you make it on Sunday, she said, you can eat leftover chicken for the better part of a week, and the cost per pound is far more reasonable than those packaged chicken breasts, especially if you buy responsibly raised meat (as I do, and I hope you do, too!).
I bought a four-pound roaster, followed my friend’s instructions (more or less), and she was right. It turned out great, and we ended up with enough chicken for two dinners and a bunch of sandwiches. You can also use the leftover meat in lots of other dishes throughout the week, like burritos, casseroles, soups, and Caesar salad.
Here’s the recipe that worked for me. I guarantee you can do it, too!
A 3-4 pound roasting chicken (a broiler-fryer is OK)
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
If the chicken has giblets inside, remove them. (Mine didn’t have any, which was a relief, since I don’t know what to do with them. Any ideas?)
Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub salt on the inside.
Prick a lemon in several places with a fork and place inside the cavity, along with a sprig or two of fresh rosemary.
Place chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. (I don’t have a roasting rack, so I just put it directly in the pan, and it worked fine.) Rub the outside lightly with olive oil. You can tie the legs together with kitchen twine if you want, or not. I didn't.
Cover the chicken loosely with foil and cook in a 350-degree oven for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove foil, baste chicken with pan juice, and turn oven up to 375. Roast for another half hour, basting two or three times. Chicken is done when the skin is nicely browned and the leg joints are loose.
I threw in some potato chunks during the last half hour and roasted them along with the chicken. You could also try carrots, onions, asparagus, or any other vegetables you like.