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Roasted Whole Chicken

You will find many people who will say the key to a good roasted chicken is to place it in salt-water brine before you cook it. They are partially correct. The key is to salt the chicken the day before- you don’t need a brine; in fact you want the chicken to be dry.


The second key is to never use a chicken larger than 3.5 pounds. These chickens will be found at finer grocery stores and butcher shops. Larger chickens will be too lean, and do not roast as well as you would like.


One to three days before cooking the chicken remove and discard any fat, gizzards, and neck.  Rinse the chicken completely and then dry the chicken completely. You want the chicken dry- as dry as possible. Using your finger – slide under the skin on each of the breasts (there is a natural opening on the cavity between the meat of the chicken and the skin- the finger gently pulls the skin away from the meat). Turn the chicken over and gently dissect the skin from the meat on the thigh.  This is not a rough move- this is gentle probing. To keep the pockets open gently put a sprig of rosemary or Thyme into each of these pockets.


Take one Tablespoon of Kosher salt for every pound of chicken. Sprinkle the salt throughout the chicken (a bit in the cavity). Use more salt on the meaty parts of the chicken than on the skinny wings and other parts.

Cover the chicken and place in the refrigerator. At least 24 hours in the refrigerator will allow the salt to provide the perfect environment for the chicken to roast properly.


Roasting the Chicken


Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. (Ovens are not exact in their temperatures. If your oven does not have a thermometer in it that you can read it would be a worthwhile investment).  Arrange the oven racks so that your skillet will sit nicely in the center of the oven.

To roast the chicken you will need a pan that is not much larger than the chicken. An ovenproof skillet (10 inches) works well. Preheat the pan on the stove over a medium heat. Once the pan is warm add a bit of olive oil to coat the pan.

Wipe the chicken dry and place the chicken breast side up in the pan – it will start to sizzle at this point. Place the skillet into the center of the oven and in 20 minutes you should see some sizzle and some browning of the chicken – if you do not increase the temperature until you do (some ovens need to be at 500 degrees for this). If the skin burns or the fat starts to burn (smoke) reduce the temperature by 25 degrees.  After 30 minutes turn the bird over and roast for another 15 minutes then turn the bird over again for five minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven and set on a plate. The drippings in the pan can make gravy (pour off the clear fat).

With a knife slash the stretched skin and move the bird to allow the juice into the drippings.  Leave the bird on the plate – and allow it to rest while you make the gravy.  For the gravy skim off the fat and using a silicone spatula scrape the drippings and bring the skillet to a medium heat. You can use this gravy to cover green beans, mashed potatoes, or a any vegetables.

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