Part I – The Starting Point: Pretty Great Whole Roasted Chicken
BY JACQUELYN DUGGAN
Photos by Jacqueline Aimee Portraits
I love to repurpose things, especially in our home.
If I think a cardboard box is in good shape, or a tomato sauce jar is too “pretty” to recycle, chances are you’ll see me reusing it around the house in a variety of ways.
I learned these sweet little home-hacks from my mom, who has taught me how to care deeply for our environment. Thanks to her, I often think about how I can be a good steward to what we’ve been given through the things we use at home.
And over time, I’ve learned to repurpose through food.
When I first learned that food could be repurposed, my mind was blown. Like, yes: we can compost or throw away food scraps. I myself also compost, but some things simply need to be thrown away.
But what if instead, we reused some to add flavor and variety to our dishes? Talk about being efficient, cost-effective, and kind to our Earth!
This learning inspired me to share one of my favorites. Over the next three blog posts, I’ll break down three ways to repurpose a whole chicken: a culinary classic that I think everyone should have in their cooking repertoire. Let’s dive in!
“Pretty Great” Whole Roasted Chicken
DAIRY FREE, GLUTEN FREE, NUT FREE, SOY FREE
Yields about 4-5 Servings | Active Time: 20 minutes, Cook Time: 1 hour
Written here is my go-to approach to roasting a whole chicken. I’ve probably roasted 50 chickens in the last 5 years and this method seems to work the best, culminating all the recipes I’ve read and tried. I’m definitely still honing it in, but this recipe is pretty great. (Hence why I’ve named it Pretty Great Whole Roasted Chicken. Clever, huh?)
If you’re feeling intimidated, that’s okay! I literally almost cried the first time I spatchcocked (one method to roasting) a chicken. I even apologized out loud to the chicken; it was a tough day- Cooking a whole, raw chicken doesn’t need to be hard or scary.
With a little bit of planning and preparation, you’ll see how simple this is.
Just follow my lead!
+ 1 whole chicken (somewhere between 3-4lbs.)
+ Kosher salt
+ Black pepper (freshly-ground gives a wonderful flavor, but it also works just fine to just use regular)
+ Extra-virgin olive oil
*If you don’t have some of these items, they’re not expensive, and worth investing in! All products featured are specially curated by me and chosen based on what I use and love. However, if you buy something through the retail links below, I may earn an affiliate commission.
+ 10 – 12”Cast-iron skillet or oven-safe baking dish
+ Paper towels
+ 1 rimmed plate (this is optional, but I find it’s helpful in case the chicken is dripping)
+ Cutting board (safe for the dishwasher for easy cleaning, or one you use specifically for meat – cross-contamination is real, friends!)
+ Kitchen or poultry shears
Step 1: Prepare your workspace.
Dish out about a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of pepper into a small bowl. Layout your cutting board, plate, and have your paper towels nearby. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
*This is a quick and simple step: I like to have everything I need handy and ready to go because let’s be honest, preparing a raw chicken can get a little messy.
Step 2: Prepare the chicken.
Remove the packaging from your chicken with the plate underneath to catch any drippings. Then, remove any chicken parts inside the chicken cavity (if there are any) and begin to pat-dry the chicken with paper towels.
*This is likely the most important thing you can do here (besides adding salt and pepper in a moment) – pat-drying the chicken will allow the skin to crisp nicely in the oven.
Once your chicken is completely dry, trim any fat around the cavity of the chicken with your kitchen shears. Then, with your paring knife, make four small half-inch slits: where the thigh meets the breast and where the drumstick meets the thigh on both sides of the chicken.
Then, generously salt + pepper the outside and inside of the chicken, rubbing it in.
*Generous is the keyword here. Cover every bit of that chicken! Trust me, it will pay off.
Once you’ve completed that step, use about 1-2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to coat the chicken, rubbing it in with your hands.
Step 3: Prepare the skillet
Preheat your cast-iron skillet with a tablespoon of canola oil or butter. Heat until the oil or butter is hot, but not smoking. Transfer the chicken to the skillet.
*I recently learned this step from Cook’s Illustrated, and it made a huge difference! If you’re not using a cast-iron skillet, I’d recommend gently greasing your oven-safe pan with canola oil or butter.
Step 4: Cook the chicken
Transfer the chicken in the skillet to the oven, with the legs of the chicken facing towards the back. Set your timer for about an hour. Every oven will cook at a different speed, so you’ll have to see what works best with your oven. Cook the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 150-155 degrees.
*I recently learned this from Molly Baz’s Cook This Book, as the dark meat takes a bit more time to cook than the tender chicken breast. This method allows for the chicken to cook more evenly.
Step 5: Let the chicken rest, then carve!
Pull the chicken out of the oven, and let it rest for about 15 minutes (it will continue to cook to its safe-to-eat temperature of 165 degrees while it’s resting), and carve.
Step 6: Serve.
There are so many yummy sides to serve with roasted chicken: the sky’s the limit. Here are a couple of my favorite tips:
+ Keep it simple on a weeknight, and serve it over a peppery arugula + herb salad with a homemade or store-bought vinaigrette.
In the next post, I’ll share what to do next with the chicken bones or unwanted white or dark meat. Stay tuned!
A note from the writer:
When I first started writing this post, I had a few statistics highlighted about food waste.
But you’ve likely heard most of that before. Knowledge is power, right? It can also be startling and sad, sometimes leaving us feeling hopeless.
So, I pivoted my approach here. I think more often than not, we just don’t know how or if we can reuse the food we’re throwing away. And, I’m certainly not here to shame or “should you” into anything. We all have enough of that!
Instead, what I would like to share is how I’ve discovered ways to repurpose food in our home. It’s something that I really love, and simply want to share more about it in hopes someone else might appreciate it too.
I hope you love this blog series as much as I do!
For Part 2: How To Make A Simple Chicken Stock, read here.