Knowing how to roast a chicken is one of the easiest things you can learn to do in the kitchen. And it will make a HUGE difference if you’re trying to meal prep, eat healthy and otherwise get more bang for your buck (and your time!).
Buying what’s called “whole animal” - is less expensive than buying cuts of meat. Chicken is the one thing we’re most used to seeing whole since you’re not likely to find a side of beef at the grocery store. And you can get a lot of mileage out of 1 chicken. The giblets can be roasted and used to make stock - honestly, sometimes I give them to the dog as a treat (dog treats are expensive!). The meat can be used in variety of ways from soups to sandwiches and salads. And then, even the left over roasted bones and skin can be frozen and boiled into a chicken stock as well. If you waste no part of the chicken - you will get a LOT out of it!
Then there’s your time. I can prep and cook a 4lb. chicken in under 2 hours and have meals for 2-3 days out of it! That’s PRECIOUS time during the week! My household only has 2 people in it, so obviously if you have a larger family, you would grab a bigger chicken. But the concept is the same. How much time do you have to put in, to save how much stress down the road? I once had a client ask me how I expected her to get home at 6p.m. and cook a chicken for dinner. I explained that I didn’t. I expected her to cook the chicken on Sunday and PLAN to eat it at 6p.m. on a weeknight. Toss together a salad and dinner is on the table.
Not to mention, local, humanely raised chicken has a lower carbon footprint than pork, beef, or lamb, and is leaner. It is a good source of protein as well. Just make sure you’re getting a quality bird from a trusted source, as commercial chickens tend to have the highest levels of antibiotics and hormones added to them because of the miserable conditions they’re raised in.
Give a roast chicken a shot this week and see how far it goes in your house! You won’t be disappointed!
1, 4lb. chicken
1 onion, cut into 6 wedges
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3rds
2 celery stalks, washed and cut into 3rds
5 Tbs. butter, room temperature (use olive oil for a dairy-free version)
fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, it’s all good)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400°.
Remove giblets and neck from the chicken (they should be in a package in the cavity). Set aside for later use or discard.
Use your hands to rub butter all over the chicken. Make sure to get some inside the cavity and under the skin of the chicken breast.
Season the chicken generously with salt. Again, get some in the cavity as well as all around the outside. Season with pepper.
Add half of the vegetables to the bottom of your roasting pan. Fill the cavity of the chicken with the other half, as well as any fresh herbs you have. Set the chicken on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan. Tuck the wing tips under. Tie the legs together with the kitchen twine.
Roast chicken at 400° for the first 30 minutes of cook time. Then reduce the heat to 350° and continue cooking for another hour. (If you have a different sized chicken, it cooks for 20 minutes per pound.) If you want a dark and crispy skin, baste (pour pan juices over it) the chicken every 30 minutes. This is not necessary, it just makes it look pretty.
Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving or storing.