Last week I was racing around the Bay Area on college tours with @gregorytlee and having a very hard time getting a hot meal on the table every night. So I assumed you were too and put together a post with five quick and easy weeknight recipes. Well, little did you know that very same day, I ended up roasting a chicken, or rather @gregorytlee did.
With what I thought was good planning, I took a whole chicken out of the freezer the previous Sunday to defrost, thinking I’d prepare it on Monday. When Wednesday came and it was still in the fridge, I knew I had to use it before it went bad. So in the 2o minutes I had between the end of the daily college tour and the departure for a late afternoon appointment, I raced around my kitchen, leveraging that caffeine from the Philz Coffee I had around 1PM and put on a pot of rice and prepped the chicken for roasting.
But then what? Time to go and it’s raw. Too late to roast it when I get home. So I tell @gregorytlee I’ll be texting him with instructions at around 6PM (I figure if he can make baklava all by himself, he can roast an already-prepped chicken).
At 6PM, I texted him to preheat the oven to 375 degrees convect roast. He asked if he should set the timer or would I be home to take it out (way to think ahead!). Told him to check it at one hour and call me for more instructions, if I’m not home. Sure enough, our meeting lasted a while longer so at one hour, we talked from the car.
And I’m thinking: How the heck am I going to teach him how to test for doneness on my phone? He’s a pretty literal thinker so I went with the temperature approach first. Told him to get the instant read thermometer out of the drawer and check if the breast is at 165 degrees or higher. (Thigh is a better gauge but harder to explain where to put the probe). I also asked him for other cues of doneness: Is the skin browned? Are there drippings in the bottom of the pan that are making noise? If yes to all of the above, I told him to take it out, cover it loosely with foil, and let it rest until we get there.
Sure enough, the breast meat was just under 165 which after resting would put it at a perfect 170 or so. Well not to brag about my offspring or anything, but it was the most perfectly cooked whole roast chicken that’s ever come out of our oven. The breast meat was fully cooked but still oozing with juice and the thighs were just right – none of that “not quite cooked” “not sure if it’s safe to eat it” stuff going on.
I suppose it could be the fabulous air-chilled Smart Chicken I bought at our New Leaf Grocery Store, but I am going to give all the credit to @gregorytlee in hopes it will motivate him to keep on cooking!
Mad-Dash Last-Minute Weeknight Roasted Chicken
Serves 4 people
Prep time: 15 minutes active, one hour in oven
- One whole chicken – around 4 lbs – with giblets and such removed from cavity if there are any
- 2 small lemons or one large
- sprig or two of fresh thyme or rosemary
- olive oil
If cooking right away, preheat the oven to either 375 convect or 400 regular.
Cut the lemon (s) in half or quarters and shove them into the cavity with the sprig or two of thyme. Then rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. I happened to have a lavender pepper blend in my spice cabinet from Terraverde Farms so I sprinkled that on as well. Just salt and pepper will do. If you have lemon pepper, that would be nice as well. But don’t over think it. Many spices would work but the basics will not disappoint if the chicken is cooked properly.
I have a convection option oven so I chose convection roast at 375 degrees and one hour was just the right amount of time. I’d probably go with 400 degrees in a regular oven and check it at one hour also. Doneness is determined in many ways – easy wiggling of the leg, thigh/leg juices running clear, internal temperature at breast or thigh of 165 degrees, nice browning of skin and juices running into pan and making noise while doing it.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, after you take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest on the cutting board for 5 or 10 minutes loosely tented with foil, you can deglaze the pan on the stove top with some white wine, lemon juice and chicken broth – a great way to use up leftover wine or broth and a nice little instant gravy to put on your chicken.
And one more thing – I was way too tired to even remember to take photos that night so the pictures I’ve included are of another roast chicken I make with grapes and shallots. The recipe is from Bon Appetit. It’s to die for, really. But that will be another post. At least you get the idea of the before and after.
What’s your favorite method for roasting chicken? (if it’s buying a rotisserie one at the grocery store, there will be no judging from this blogger!)