Simple Roast Chicken

roast chicken titleWe finally got our snow day on Tuesday, and I think it’s thrown off my whole week.  Monday was spent preparing for the storm (our work is tied heavily to the schools, so when they close, we are left with a lot of rescheduling) and then I feel like all of Wednesday was spent trying to get back into the groove.  But I did enjoy the day off!  It finally gave me a chance to mix up some homemade house cleaning and hair/skincare supplies.  I pulled most of my “recipes” from The Hand’s On Home, with which I am only slightly obsessed.  All of the various preserved recipes look amazing!  Considering that I’ve have breathing trouble the last few times that I’ve cleaned our bathroom (hello childhood asthma) I have really, really wanted to mix up a few sprays and scrubs made from gentler ingredients.  I now have a “grime spray” for the kitchen that is already working wonders on our glass stovetop, along with an all-purpose cleaning spray, a scrub for tougher stains, and an acidic spray to cut through soap scum.  I’m definitely willing to put in a little more elbow work if it means having the ability to breathe, so we’ll see how it goes!

roast chicken skin

Last week, a roast chicken was the focal point of my meal plan, with the meat going into another two dishes after the initial roasting night, plus the bones providing the base for several quarts of bone broth.  Now, I do realize that roast chicken recipes are a dime a dozen and range from “super” simple to the most complicated mix of flipping and brining and rubbing and soaking, all in order to get a nice golden bird with crispy skin and juicy meat.  Roasting a chicken was a little intimidating when I first tried it a few years ago, mostly just for the dense amount of conflicting information that I encountered.  I’ve honed my method of choice over the past few years, and I wanted to finally share it here.  Yes, it does involve a flip or two, but it only requires 5 ingredients (not including salt and pepper) and, in spite of the flip, is mostly hands off during the roasting time!

I’ve also included the most basic instructions for a drippings-based gravy, plus noted where I add in vegetables, when I decide to make those as well.  I’m certain you’ve already heard how well a roast chicken can be used when meal-planning and/or early frugally.  It can easily provide the protein for 3 meals, plus creating the base for a fourth meal if you make the bone broth.  A rotisserie chicken certainly saves time and effort, and can usually be grabbed for $5.  But, I’ve yet to encounter a rotisserie chicken that is clearly marked as being gluten-free.  Plus, I’ve found most rotisserie chicken’s clock in at about 3 pounds.  I’ll just note that my 5+ pounder was $5.05 and I can be absolutely certain that it is safe for me to eat.  That being said, if anyone has a reliable source for GF rotisserie chicken, let me know.  Because on some nights, my not having to do anything at all would totally be worth the extra dollar or two!

roast chicken 1

Roast Chicken

Serves: 6+ | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 1.5-2 hours

  • 1 whole chicken, 5-6 lbs
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper

Place a metal cooling rack in a higher-walled baking dish (or use a roasting pan, if you have one).  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Mix together the butter, thyme leaves, garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

It is likely that your chicken still has the giblets and neck within the cavity.  Make sure to remove those.  You can simmer these in a small covered pot filled with water while the chicken roasts, to create a basic broth to use to make gravy for the chicken (if gravy is your thing–it certainly is a necessity in this house!)  Pat the chicken dry all over, including inside the cavity.  Cut the lemon into quarters and place within the cavity of the chicken.   Place the chicken in the pan, breast side up.

Now we want to get the butter underneath the skin of the chicken.  The butter will help to keep the meat from drying out and help to keep the skin crispy.  Win-win!   Starting at the tail end of the chicken, you should be able to pull up the skin away from the meat.  You might have a little resistance, but it should pull away.  (Cue me trying not to get too technical, for those who may be a little squeamish!)  Use a spoon (or honestly, your fingers) to spread the butter over the breast meat, beneath the skin.   You should be able to poke through the dividing layer to get between the skin and the leg meat, too.  Add a little butter there as well.  Certainly can’t hurt!  Sprinkle the rest of the salt and pepper over the outside of the chicken.  Truss the chicken.  I tried this method for the first time and was quite pleased with it.  It definitely keeps the skin from shrinking!

Place the chicken in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, to start the initial browning of the skin.  Remove the chicken from the oven and turn the heat down to 350 degrees F.  Flip the chicken upside down, so that the breasts are down in the pan (I found it easiest to use tongs).  Place back in the oven and continue to cook.  You should bargain for 20 minutes per pound (So a 5-lb chicken should cook for 1 hour and 40 minutes.  A 6-lb chicken should cook for 2 hours.)  Make sure you do the math and set a timer! 🙂  If you want to add any vegetables to roast alongside your chicken, I like to give the chicken a headstart by about 30-40 minutes (if the roasting time is 90+ minutes), then add the chopped veggies into the pan around the chicken for the remainder of the roasting time.  Once the time is up, remove the chicken from the oven and use the tongs to flip breast-side-up.  Check that the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh has reached 160 degrees (it will raise to 165 degrees while it rests.)  If the skin is a little pale, go ahead and broil for a minute or two.  Just be sure to keep an eye on it!  After broiling (or not), pull the chicken out of the oven and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken is resting, you can make gravy.  Spoon a tablespoon or two from the drippings at the bottom of the roasting pan into a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a spoonful or two of flour until it makes a roux.  Let this cook, stirring frequently, until the roux turns a light brown.  Add a little broth (from a carton or from the boiled giblets/chicken neck).  The paste will bubble and thicken.  Keep adding the broth bit by bit, stirring until smooth, until the gravy reaches your desired thickness.  Taste and salt/pepper if needed.  By now the chicken should be rested and ready to eat!


Five Ingredients or Less…Desserts

Today I came to the delightful realization that I’ve now discovered delicious easy recipes for brownies, cookies, and cake.  More specifically: 3-ingredient nutella brownies, 4-ingredient chocolate cake, and 5-ingredient peanut butter cookies.  Best of all, the cookies and cake are flourless, quite helpful for my gluten-intolerence, and the gooey nutella base of the brownies balances out my cheapest toss-away GF flour mix.  All three seem to work well with a variety of add-ins (though I can’t imagine ever wishing to add anything to this amazing cake).  All in all, I’m rather tickled that I now have three super-easy, go-to recipes, and delighted that they align in proper order. Haha.  I’ve found all of these on various food-blogs around the web, so I can take no credit, except to pass along the wonder:


3-Ingredient Nutella Brownies

  • 1/2 c Nutella spread
  • 1 lg Egg’
  • 5 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour (GF AP flour, in my case)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix together nutella and egg until well blended.  Stir in flour until combined. Line a mini-muffin tin with paper or foil liners (I suppose you could simply grease the muffin cups, but these are pretty soft, gooey brownie bites.  I, who battle with my family for the corner brownies’ crunchy goodness, recommend the added structure of the liners).  Bake for 11-12 minutes, until a toothpick comes out mostly clean (again, gooey, fudgy galore…a few crumbs on the pick are a-okay).  Allow brownies to cool and remove from muffin tin.

Makes 12 perfect, tiny brownie bites.

4-Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Cake(Also known as Chocolate Idiot Cake, Chocolate Orbit Cake, the list goes on…)

  • 10 oz bittersweet chocolate chips (or in my case, an 11 oz Ghirardelli bag with a small handful eaten away)
  • 7 oz unsalted butter (or 1 3/4 regular-sized sticks)
  • 5 lg eggs at room temperature
  • 1 c granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a spring-form pan and dust with cocoa powder.  Make sure it is water-tight.  (I would guess this recipe could be made in a parchment paper-lined regular pan as well, which I’ll certainly try at school, where I do not have access to my mother’s spring-form round.  I’d suggest the parchment to make it easier to lift out, which seems to be the only potential issue.)

Melt butter and chocolate over double boiler (or in microwave), stirring occasionally, until smooth.  Remove from heat.  In large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until combined, then slowly add in chocolate mixture.  Allow time for tempering, so the warm chocolate doesn’t cook your eggs.  Pour into prepared pan and cover top tightly with aluminum foil.  Place pan into a larger pan.  Fill the larger pan with water, until about halfway up the side of the cake pan.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Remove pan from water and allow to cool completely.

This cake is dense and fudgy, enough to be mistaken for the candy if chilled and cut into small enough pieces. Keep leftovers tight wrapped in the refrigerator.

5-Ingredient Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth, your preference. But all-natural kinds tend to hold up better in this recipe)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 lg egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

…Alright, so they could be 4-ingredient cookies, if you leave out the cinnamon.  But the number order was fantastically perfect, and in my mind, cinnamon is not an option.  The spice-PB combo is absolutely delicious, lending a sense of warmth to the cookies, rather than the specific taste of cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  If not using a nonstick cookies sheet, grease the sheet.  Mix together peanut butter and sugar until well-combined (about 2 minutes).  Add egg, baking powder, and cinnamon and mix thoroughly.  Roll into walnut-sized balls, roll in loose granulated sugar and press to baking sheet with criss-crossing fork tongs.  Bake for about ten-minutes or just beginning to brown.  Allow cookies to cool completely before removing from baking sheet.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.