During my last hair cut, my stylist made an alarming and worrisome observation. “I’m loving Flyer Foodie,” she said, “I just wish you’d do something… easy.” “Easy?! But aren’t all my recipes EASY?” I exclaimed. “Well… not for… normal people,” she said. Oh, great. So either A) I’m not normal or B) I’m making food that is only easy for kitchen-savvy people, while leaving everyone else completely in the dark. (My husband says, for those who are wondering, that “A” is indeed the correct answer.) I have the best intentions, mind you. I don’t obsess for hours in the kitchen, apron smudged with handprints and camera smeared with aioli (that one’s for you, George) to bring you something that is either completely mind-boggling or entirely too troublesome.
So I came up with a plan. Over the coming months, I’ll be sprinkling my usual Flyer Foodie posts with a series of Flyer Foodie 101 posts, covering recipes and dishes that may have the illusion or the reputation of being difficult, but are in reality, after a few basic pointers, quite simple. I’m kicking off the series with an old standard, roast chicken.
Here’s the catch: I’m leaving the remaining Flyer Foodie 101 posts up to you, dear readers. Leave me a comment on what you’d like to see in future 101 posts – a recipe you’ve always wanted to learn, a dish you’ve struggled with, or a food you want to know more about – and I’ll do my best to accommodate. Come on y’all, this will be fun!
For this week’s roast chicken, I bought a local bird from Richard’s Meat Market, which sells chickens from Little Portion Monastery in Berryville. These pasture-raised chickens are fed a mixture of natural, non-GMO whole grains (which is ground on-site at the Monastery), given no steroids, no animal by-products or antibiotics, and yield a lower percentage of saturated fat and calories than a typical factory-farmed bird. The taste is definitely superior, and it always feels good to buy local, doesn’t it?
For my flavorings, I chose some classics like onion, lemon and thyme, which are stuffed into the cavity of the chicken – if you’re feeling adventurous, try other flavors, like garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, or even cinnamon sticks. For the outside of the chicken, I rubbed butter over the skin with a liberal hand, and then sprinkled a seasoned salt evenly over the butter. I know seasoned salt can be a deeply personal matter – feel free to use what you like; my favorite seasoned salt has hints of garlic, paprika and orange peel. With flavor on the inside and flavor on the outside, the oven takes care of the rest. How easy can you get? My chicken roasted for just over two hours, which came out to about 30 minutes per pound. If you decide not to stuff the chicken with flavorings, the cooking time will decrease significantly. I also added some potatoes to the pan and removed them once they were done, while the chicken kept cooking.
Roast chicken can be summed up in a handful of words: Classic. Comforting. Aromatic. Delicious. Just to name a few. The rules for roasting a perfect chicken are anything but complex, and achieved by following just a few simple guidelines. 1) Let the chicken stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes prior to roasting to ensure even cooking. 2) Fill the cavity with flavorings, like onion, lemon and herbs, and be sure to salt the cavity, as well. This helps flavor the meat from the inside out. 3) Make sure the chicken is suspended in the roasting pan on a rack. This allows the drippings to fall into the pan, so the chicken isn’t “boiling” in its own juices. 4) Allow the chicken to rest for about 15 minutes before carving. Adhere to these rules and I can guarantee a perfectly cooked chicken, a satisfying dinner and delicious leftovers, simultaneously. Magical, I know. Enjoy!
Classic Roast Chicken
1 4-6 lb. chicken, gizzards removed
1 small onion, thickly sliced
1 lemon, quartered
1 small bundle of fresh parsley
1 small bundle of fresh thyme
3 Tbs. butter, softened
3 Tbs. favorite seasoned salt
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450°. Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry with clean paper towels.
Salt the cavity of the chicken and insert the onion, lemon, thyme and parsley into the cavity. Spread the butter over the outside of the chicken, top to bottom, and cover with your favorite seasoned salt. Place on the middle of a rack in a roasting pan, and place in the oven.
Immediately decrease the temperature to 350°. Roast the chicken for about 30 minutes per pound, or until the skin has crisped to a golden brown and an inserted instant read thermometer reads 185°. Remove from the oven, cover with tin foil, and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
*If you’re adding vegetables to the pan, like potatoes or carrots, add them at the beginning and keep a close eye on them – they won’t take as long as the chicken. Remove them from the oven when they’re done and cover with aluminum foil until the chicken is finished cooking.
If the above slideshow doesn’t load, please visit the entire Roast Chicken set on Flickr.
Laura Hobbs is a guest contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. Born and raised in Fayetteville, Laura is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, visit her author page.