Cooking 101 - How to Roast a Chicken

Cooking 101 – How to Roast a Chicken

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Bronwen (our very own Winnie), co-owner of the Spice Station in Silverlake CA, is here to share with you the key steps to roast a chicken better than the Colonel. We’re lucky to be getting these tips, since the Spice Station was just named one of the best new US shops by Food and Wine magazine. On top of that, we know first hand; this chick knows her way around a chicken! ~wht

I’m going to share with you the steps to make a whole roasted chicken. It’s so easy, once you do it, you’ll be hooked. Plus, you’ve got a chance to win a set of spices that will assure it’s delicious!

1. Buy a quality whole chicken. Make sure it is vegetarian fed, free range and if possible, from a sustainable local farm. Unlike the whole birds you see in the market, chickens are only supposed to be three to five pounds at the most. A 7 pound chicken is pumped with hormones. Believe me, you don’t want to eat it! Also, when you buy a chicken that costs 99 cents a pound; think for a moment how they’re able to bring you that at such a low cost? An organic bird will cost you more. But in return you get a much healthier, better tasting meal. Plus, you’re helping the environment by supporting farms that cause less environmental impact.

2. The might before, wash the chicken inside and out with cold water. After rinsing, pat it down with paper towels and place in a roasting pan with a rack. I got this tip from the Pulitzer Prize winning Food Critic, Jonathan Gold, who happens to shop at my store. Salt the entire chicken down, cover and place in fridge until the next day when you’re ready to cook. The salt will draw the moisture out of the skin and will make it extra crispy when cooking. Now, that’s a tip you should take!

3. Spice and Cook! Rub chicken with olive oil or cold butter, add salt (optional because its on there already), pepper, paprika, rosemary, lemon; whatever spice you want. I personally use salt, pepper, paprika and fennel pollen.

Preheat oven to 350-375 degrees. The chicken will take anywhere from 1.5 – 2.5 hours, depending on the size. A good rule of thumb is to roast 20 minutes per pound. Using a meat thermometer, check the thickest part of the thigh (be sure not to touch any bones) and the temperature should read 165 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, check by piercing the breast toward the end of the cooking time and make sure the juices run clear. Take out of oven, let rest for at least 10-15 minutes before carving and you’re done!

Alternative high heat cooking method: (also from Jonathan Gold)
Brown chicken in pan with butter and parsley, about 4 minutes on each side. Place on roasting rack. Preheat oven to 475 and cook chicken for 30 minutes, then lower temp to 400 for an additional 15-20 minutes. Take out of oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

16 thoughts on “Cooking 101 – How to Roast a Chicken”

  1. I love a roasted chicken! Especially that crispy flavorful skin! @Winnie, I completely concur, spice rubs are the best for a roasted chicken…if you coook it right it will be totally juicy. I have a cornish game hen in the fridge I just may have to bring out tonight!

  2. Roasting a chicken is one of those things I’ve just never gotten around to doing. With tips like these I’m sure the job will be a lot easier now, and you make it seem so simple! I think half of the reason I’ve yet to attempt roasting a chicken is the sheer daunting nature of the task. I guess that’s going to change now!

    @winnie- Congrats on your super successful business! If I were on that coast I would have to consider visiting, I just love walking around spice shops and taking in all the smells.

  3. These are EXCELLENT directions, which I totally need! I’ve only cooked a whole chicken in a slow cooker, so my next goal is to tackle a roast chicken. My husband has a thing about eating things that are still on the bone (I KNOW, so crazy…) so I’ve been putting it off. But if it’s this easy maybe I need to go ahead and just do it!

    Just curious: @Winnie, what do you like to do with the leftovers? Any special dishes you like to make?

  4. Oh, I love a good roasted bird, and making one couldn’t be easier.. Thanks for the great tips, @Winnie. I’ve use both methods of roasting a bird, each way is truly delicious. It’s an extra step to brown the bird first but I think it makes for an even more succulent birdie. Salt really is an amazing ingredient we take for granted. Unfortunately, it has gotten a bad rap over the years. Try living without it. Impossible! I think of it’s many applications. I do something similar when making my eggplant parmesan.. Salting the thinly sliced eggplant and placing in a colander weighted down over night.. it sucks the moisture out like magic. It just makes the dish over the top!

  5. I can attest for the fennel pollen on the whole chicken…..it is SOOOOO Delicious. @winnie told me to try the Jonathan Gold method and it was soooo good. I forgot to salt my chicken the night before, I think if I had it would have been even tastier, but I did the rub of fennel pollen, salt and pepper and baked it at 475 for about 50 minutes and it was amazing…I also coated some purple potatoes with the fennel pollen and salt and pepper and It took some self control to wait and get the food to the plate before I ate it! I was ready to eat the whole thing straight from the pan it was so good. I also put a couple black limes from the Spice Station in the chicken cavity, another tip from @winnie all and all I have to say it was one of the best chickens I’ve ever had. She knows her stuff!! so give any of the methods mentioned above a try and see every at your table give you a “You rule the kitchen” gaze :)

    @irene I am going to try your recommendation for eggplant parmesan too, I bet it does make the eggplant even more amazing! Thanks for the tip :)

  6. @Winnie, I’m a pretty mean chicken roaster myself. I put cold cubes of butter underneath the skin, then lube the bird with olive oil, and finally rub with spices. My dry spices are usually an ordinary blend of salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, sage and mustard. You’re fennel pollen idea has me INTRIGUED. I still owe you a visit to Spice Station…show me what ya got!

  7. I’ve printed out this recipe for my files– it sounds absolutely delicious! Thanks so much, @Winnie. I’m a novice in the kitchen, but your simple directions make this dish sound easy!

  8. Katie I’m a total skin freak too!Sounds so gross but its so good. Doing the browning first and the fast and high method gives you the crispiest skin. Salting it before hand totally helps, which you shold do with your hens. How can Jonathan Gold be wrong. And thanks to Christy who twittered him for directions! Fennel Pollen is fabulous. I can ship it out real easy for anyone who wants to give it a try or of course you can try your luck at winning the roasted chicken spice give away on the post above!

  9. Sherri, i bet you do roast a mean bird! I’ve done the cold butter under the skin too! Its awesome! And yes, you do owe the store a visit! You and Eric!

  10. I roasted my first chicken not so long ago and couldn’t believe how easy it was. I stuffed mine with rosemary, thyme, garlic and lemon and made a herb rub for the outside. Love your salt tip. Definitely going to try that next time. @Winnie your spice station store looks amazing. So wish I could come visit. Checking out your Etsy store now.

  11. Thanks for the tips on roasting a chicken! While I consider myself a good cook and think that I have above-average baking skills, I have to say that I cannot roast meat. I can’t broil a steak. I can’t grill a kebob. Unless it’s breaded and fried or in a pasta sauce, it just won’t work out for me. I depend on my hubby to make sure our Thanksgiving turkey is edible. Now I’m feeling a little empowered and am now working up my courage to roast a chicken. It’ll either be my greatest achievement or the greatest crime committed against a chicken EVER. Wish me luck :)

  12. Thanks so much for these directions! I admit, I’m not that great of a cook, but I’ve been meaning to try roasting a whole bird ever since my boss yelled at me for buying the pre-packaged chicken breasts for way too much money at the store.

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