Home Sweet Home: Perfect Roast Chicken

The first meal I cook in any new kitchen is roast chicken. It’s a genetic thing, I can’t escape it. A house is not a home until a roast chicken has been made and consumed therein.

Which is to say, we have moved. And I have made roast chicken. So we live here now.

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(Confession: This picture is actually of the roast chicken I made when we finished renovating the kitchen in our old house – the first meal I cooked in that new kitchen, of course. I was not organized enough to take a picture of the chicken I made here in the new house, but rest assured it looked very similar. And was delicious.)

Moving was chaotic, as moving always is. A snafu with the utility company wound up forcing us to postpone our move by a week literally the day before we were to move – there were many panicked phone calls to movers and childcare and the like. Fortunately, it all worked out – we moved out of our old house and into the new one, and spent a hectic week or so cleaning and touching up paint and getting the last projects done at the old house once it was empty. Then our renter moved in, paid her rent, and we took some deep breaths and turned our attention to unpacking the first priority: the kitchen. (Although we did find a fantastic Italian takeout place five minutes away. New York style pizza and fresh pasta, be still my heart!)

With roast chicken in hand (or in fridge, as the case may be) and a few more rooms unpacked, we’re starting to finally settle in. The babies’ room is nearly done – just a few pieces of artwork to hang and it’ll be even better than their old room. The office is finally unpacked, thank goodness, as I need to get back to writing Duncan’s story – I left the poor Earl of Kilgoran deep in an argument with a very pretty witch the day before we made an offer on this house and haven’t written a word since! More on that at a later date, I suspect.

In the meantime, if you’re needing some comfort or just a way to feel like you belong, here’s my roast chicken. Loosely based on Ina’s, of course.

Perfect Roast Chicken

  • 1 roaster chicken, giblets removed, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 lemon, cut in quarters
  • 1 head garlic, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1-2 pounds baby yukon gold potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 2 bags frozen pearl onions
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Tuck the ends of the chicken’s wings underneath its body so they don’t burn. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan (mine is a Belgique, and no longer available, but this one is pretty much the same). Tuck the lemon, garlic, and thyme inside the cavity of the chicken. Brush the chicken with half of the olive oil or butter, then sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.

Toss the potatoes and frozen onions (yes! Straight from the bag, still frozen!) into the pan surrounding the chicken, and drizzle with the remaining oil or butter, and add salt and pepper to taste (I sometimes stick a couple of extra sprigs of thyme in with the potatoes and onions – or, if I don’t have any, just sprinkle a pinch of dried thyme over them).

Roast until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through to temperature, usually about an hour and ten minutes depending on the size of your chicken. I actually don’t use a timer – I use a digital meat thermometer, which is an oven cook’s best friend (here’s mine! I’ve tried several and like this one the best – and it’s cheap!). If you roast pretty much anything, ever, please, do yourself a favor and get one. Poultry is cooked through at 165 degrees; for a whole chicken, the best place to insert your thermometer’s probe is the meat of the thigh, as dark meat cooks a little slower than white. Poke it in through the chicken’s armpit (legpit?) past the drumstick and into the thigh meat, avoiding the bone, and roast away.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for a bit while you do whatever it is you need to do – change some diapers, finish an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, make a salad, set the table, whatever. Then carve your chicken, set it out with the potatoes and onions, and take a deep breath. You’re home.

(Disclosure: As always, all Amazon links are affiliate links here.)

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