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A perfectly roasted, golden-skinned chicken is one of life’s simplest pleasures. Quick preparation and hands-off cooking time makes roasting a chicken as ideal for a weeknight meal as a Sunday supper. One night of cooking will feed a family and provide plenty of leftovers that can be used in future soups, salads, sandwiches and casseroles making meal planning a breeze. See below for a simple no-fail recipe that skips all the gimmicks and extra steps while producing tender and juicy results.

Tips for Healthier Roasted Chicken

Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein but can be a sneaky source of salt, so choose your bird wisely. While naturally low in sodium, some chickens, even those labeled “all natural,” have been salted or enhanced with a sodium solution to plump it and make it juicy. These birds are often labeled kosher or self-basting. Likewise, grocery store rotisserie chicken is often high in sodium. Follow these tips for cooking a healthy and flavorful homemade chicken:

  • Use aromatics like lemon, orange, garlic, onion and herbs to add flavor rather than fat or salt.
  • Use store-bought spice mixes that are salt-free or make your own.
  • Rub spices under the skin instead of on top to get the most flavor.
  • Mix seasoning spices with olive oil rather than butter to create a spreadable paste.
  • Cook chicken in a pan next to roasting vegetables instead of over top so fat doesn’t drip on them.
  • Remove the skin after cooking.
  • Strain any liquid from the pan to remove excess fat.
  • Drizzle meat with strained pan juices rather than gravy.
  • Compare labels and choose a chicken that is lowest in sodium.

Simple Roasted Chicken

Mild flavored chicken is delicious on its own as well as a blank canvas ready for any number of flavor combinations. Keep it simple or see below for seasoning suggestions.

Ingredients

1 5-6 pound roasting chicken
Seasoning, optional
Aromatics, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425° and select a roasting pan. A cast iron skillet, oven-safe sauté pan, casserole dish, or traditional roasting pan are all good options. Using a smaller pan will allow the juices to accumulate without burning.

2. Remove chicken from packaging and, if there, remove giblets from the cavity. Refrigerate or freeze giblets for stock or other future use. Cut off any excess hunks of fat and discard.

  1. Thoroughly dry the chicken with paper towels. There is no need to wash the bird first.
  2. If desired, season under chicken skin. Do this by gently loosening the skin and lifting, without tearing, just enough to spread seasoning over the breast and legs. Add any aromatics to the chicken’s cavity. Do not pack with aromatics or it will increase the cooking time.

  1. Tuck wings under the bird. If desired, tie legs together with kitchen twine or plain, unwaxed dental floss.

  1. Place chicken in roasting pan and cook in preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes or until cooked through. When chicken is fully cooked it should register 165° on a thermometer placed in the deepest part of the thigh. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. Cool down and refrigerate leftovers quickly. Use leftovers within 3 to 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months. Defrost in the refrigerator.
  2. Tip for the cook: Carve chicken on a cutting board that is set inside a rimmed baking sheet. If the chicken leaks juice the rimmed pan will catch it. Add any liquid to pan juices for gravy or save to add to stock.

Chicken Seasoning Suggestions

  • Season with: Five-spice powder. Stuff with fresh ginger and orange slices.
  • Season with Cajun spice mix. Stuff with garlic and onion.
  • Season with curry powder or garam masala. Stuff with onion and garlic.
  • Season with smoked paprika and garlic powder. Stuff with fresh thyme and lemon.
  • Season with a mixture of fresh sage, rosemary, thyme and garlic. Stuff with fresh rosemary.
  • Season with jerk spice mix. Stuff with thyme and onion.
  • Season with minced garlic, lemon zest and chopped oregano. Stuff with onion and lemon.
  • Season with chili powder, cumin, garlic and cilantro. Stuff with onion, garlic and lime.

Chicken Stock

Use every part of the roasted chicken by making a delicious and easy to make stock from the leftover carcass and drippings. Make a small batch or freeze carcasses until ready to make one large batch following this easy recipe as a guideline. Simmer stock in a large stockpot on your stovetop. Use a crockpot, pressure cooker or instant pot for smaller batches of stock. Chill rapidly and store in the refrigerator for three to four days or in the freezer for up to three months. Use stock as the base for soups, stews and sauces.

Tip for the cook: Use ice cube trays to freeze small portions of stock. Once frozen, remove from the tray and add to a sealable freezer bag. Pull cubes out individually to add to recipes.

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