Nothing says simple comfort food like a whole-roasted chicken, and when tossed into an already-hot, cast iron skillet with sliced potatoes and onions, you have an incredibly easy one-pot-meal that’s ready in just one hour for dinner any night of the week.
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa, you know that Ina’s husband Jeffrey’s favorite meal is a whole roasted chicken. Every Friday night. She even wrote a cookbook about it. So while it may have become a bit of a schtick, I’d have to say those two are onto something.
I like to make a roast chicken on Sunday as part of my meal prep to have on hand for lunches and throw together dinners through the rest of the week.
And every time I roast that whole chicken I wonder why I don’t hear more about others preparing the whole humble bird. Because we all know, people love their chicken. Chicken breasts? Absolutely! Drumsticks? They’re the most transportable bite. Wings are always a party favorite, and even chicken thighs are having their day.
So when I picked up the latest issue of Bon Appétit’s Sunday Suppers issue and discovered a new variation on whole-bird roasting, I was in. And now, you are too.
How to Oven Roast a Whole Chicken
There are a couple of new techniques I found in the roast chicken primer from Bon Appétit that I was excited to try since they’ve eliminated all the “trickery” and “secrets”. There’s no flipping or rotating. There’s no marinating, brining or basting. Instead it’s just a chicken, a pan, and a searing hot skillet in the oven.
Okay everyone, let’s roast some birds.
Salt the whole chicken and then let it rest. Salting the inside and the outside of the uncooked 4 to 4 1/2 pound chicken flavors and tenderizes it, and I believe it also contributes to a deliciously crispy skin. Think of those delicious rotisserie chickens you get from the store…their secret it salt. Use kosher salt rather than iodized and be sure to pat the skin dry with paper towels before. Allow the salted chicken to rest for at least an hour or 24 is even better. When ready to roast, drizzle with olive oil and then add a bit more salt and freshly cracked black pepper and that’s really all the flavor you need.
Bake the chicken in a sizzling hot cast-iron skillet. I’ve almost always baked my roasted chickens in a roasting pan or dish. But where this chicken gets a literal leg-up is by placing a 12-inch cast iron skillet in a 425° oven as it preheats. Then, drizzle a bit of olive oil in the pan so the chicken doesn’t stick, and quickly place the bird in the hot pan.
Warning! Be sure your bird is nice and dry so the water and oil don’t splatter and spit, even though it still may so step back from the pan as you place the chicken in it.
Add veg for a full meal deal. This idea isn’t a unique technique since it is a signature of many whole roasted chickens. Still, the idea to surround the bird with thinly sliced potatoes that sear and cook in the chicken’s rendered fat at the same time as the bird creates the.most.amazing.bites.
I’ve made this chicken with extra thin russet potato slices sliced with my mandoline to create crispy potato chips, and then again where I’ve added sweet potatoes and sliced onions to the russets. Both are spot on. Squash, carrots, chopped celery chunks, leeks, green beans, or cabbage would also be mighty fine.
How Long Does It Take to Roast a Whole Chicken?
The beauty of this baked whole chicken recipe is that once it’s in the oven, it’s a hands off affair. Roasting a 4-5 pound whole chicken at 425° in the oven typically takes just about an hour. Use a meat thermometer to gauge the temperature and pull the bird out once the thickest part of the thigh but doesn’t hit the bone hits 155° to 160°F and the juices run clear. Loosely tent the chicken with foil and rest for about 15 minutes so the juices seal into the chicken meat. The internal temperature of the chicken will continue to cook as it rests.
Transfer the bird and veg to a serving platter or serve it straight from the skillet so you can dip into all the delicious drippings.
What to Serve With Roast Chicken to Make a Meal
This dinner can easily become a one and done dinner, but if you’re looking to augment it into something more, here are a few additions for the menu.
- Autumn Couscous Salad
- The Best Homemade Mac and Cheese
- Roasted Asparagus with Browned Butter
- Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
- Citrus, Fennel and Avocado Salad
- 4 to 4½ pound whole chicken
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion, any flavor will do, sliced
- 1 russet potato, very thinly sliced (no need to peel the skin)
- ½ sweet potato, very thinly sliced (no need to peel the skin)
- 6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season generously with kosher salt inside and out. Let the chicken sit for 1 hour, or in the refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and set a 12-inch cast iron skillet inside on the middle rack. Tie the legs of the chicken together with string or twine and pat dry with paper towels again. Drizzle with olive oil and lightly rub or brush the skin to cover it evenly. Season with a bit more salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a medium bowl, toss the vegetables with half of the thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil and set aside.
- Once the oven comes to temperature, drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet. Very carefully place the chicken in the hot pan and quickly move out of the way in case the oil pops. Carefully add the potatoes, onion, and thyme around the chicken and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone reads 155 to 160°F and the juices run clear.
- Transfer from the oven and loosely tent with foil for about 15 minutes before serving.
- Adapted from Bon Appétit.
There’s more than one way to cook a whole bird. Here’s a few more for you to give a whirl.
- Oven Roasted Chicken with Lemon Rosemary Garlic Butter
- Slow Cooker Whole Chicken
- 5 Tips for Juicy Roast Chicken
- 40 Cloves of Garlic Roast Chicken Recipe
- How to Make a Great Rotisserie Chicken
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