New cooks are intimidated by the idea of roasting a chicken, but nothing could be simpler. If you roast the chicken with some vegetables in the same pan for about an hour, you will have a moist, golden bird and savory accompaniments-all ready to eat at the same time. While they cook, you can set the table, watch the news, maybe make a dessert. Sometimes it's handy to roast 2 chickens at the same time; it takes no extra effort, and you will have plenty of leftovers for salads, soups, sandwiches, or a main dish of cold chicken.
8 whole carrots
2 medium-size yellow onions
8 small white or red potatoes
(about 1-1/2 inches in diameter)
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 sprigs fresh or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 whole chicken, about 3-1/2 pounds
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Peel the carrots and cut them crosswise into 1-1/2 inch-long pieces. Cut the thicker pieces in half lengthwise as well.
Peel each onion and cut into quarters.
Wash the potatoes under cold water to get rid of any dirt. Leave them whole and unpeeled.
Scatter the carrots, onions, and potatoes on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking or roasting pan. Sprinkle 1-1/2 teaspoons of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper over them, and lay 2 sprigs of the rosemary on top. If you are using dried rosemary, put 1 tablespoon in the palm of your hand and crumble it over the vegetables.
The giblets, which consist of the liver, gizzard, and heart, plus the neck, are usually in a package inside the cavity of the chicken, between the legs. Remove them and discard or refrigerate them to use later, see Cleaning the Chicken.
Put the chicken in the center of the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.
When the timer rings, remove the pan from the oven and, using a large spoon, turn over the vegetables that surround the chicken. Don't bother with the vegetables under the chicken.
Return the pan to the oven and set the timer for 30 more minutes.
After 30 minutes, take the chicken out of the oven to check for doneness. Insert the tip of a small paring knife into the meat of the thigh where it attaches to the body. If the juices that run out are pink, the chicken needs to continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes. If the juices are clear, it is done. The meat thermometer should show a temperature of 170 degrees F. to 180 degrees F. when the chicken is done.
Carve the chicken according to Carving the Chicken.
Scoop the vegetables out of the roasting pan and onto a serving platter. Remove the fat from the pan juices, see Removing the Fat from a Roasting Pan.
Arrange the cut chicken pieces on top of vegetables, spoon some pan juices over the chicken and vegetables, scatter the 2 remaining rosemary sprigs on top, and bring the dish to the table for serving.
The first step in preparing a whole chicken for roasting is to reach inside the chicken cavity and remove the giblets (liver, gizzard, heart) and the neck. Sometimes they are in a little bag, sometimes loose, and sometimes they are not included. The liver can be chopped and quickly cooked in a little butter or oil in a skillet, then added to an omelet, or just cooked and eaten as a treat. The remaining giblets can be used in a soup; or, if you don't care to use them, cook them for the dog.
If there is a pale-yellow chunk of fat on either side of the cavity, pull or cut it off and discard.
Hold the chicken under cold running water and rinse it inside and out. Shake off excess water and pat dry with paper towels.
Sprinkle the remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper over the outside of the chicken, rubbing them all over the skin.
Set the chicken, the breast side facing up, on top of some of the vegetables, with the remaining ones surrounding the bird.
Insert a dial-type (not instant-read) thermometer into the breast, taking care that the rod of the thermometer does not touch any bones.
Remove your roast and vegetables to a serving platter. Tilt the pan they were cooked in and spoon off and discard some of the shiny, clear fat floating on the surface; you can also use a bulb baster to suck it up. You won't get every bit of fat off, but don't worry about it. Now pour all the good pan juices onto the chicken and vegetables.
Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham
By Marion Cunningham
Alfred A. Knopf, Publisher
112 full-color photographs
Recipe reprinted by permission
Modified August 2007
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