Perfect Roast Chicken
Roast chicken is the quintessential comfort food ~ tender, juicy and fabulously flavorful. You can be sure of perfect results time after time if you follow just a few simple guidelines when preparing the bird for the oven. Check out our tips and enter to win a collection of our favorite comfort food cookbooks!
- 4-pound broiler / fryer chicken
- 1 lemon, cut into quarters
- 2 to 3 sprigs each: rosemary, thyme, sage, flat-leaf parsley
- 1-1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
- For the pan sauce:
- Pan juices from the chicken
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon butter
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove the giblets, liver, heart, etc., from the cavity of the chicken. Using a sharp knife or a pair of poultry shears, trim off the wing tips at the first joint. Set these parts aside for soup or freeze them.
Rinse the chicken, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Be sure to dry inside the cavity as well as the outside of the bird. Season the cavity with salt and pepper and loosely stuff with the lemon wedges and several sprigs of each herb.
Next, truss the bird as follows:
- Cut a piece of kitchen twine approximately 36" long
- Place the chicken on a cutting board, breast side up, legs facing you
- Pull the wings away from the body slightly, bend downward at the joint and tuck the ends back under the body
- Place the center point of the twine under the neck and wrap the ends around the neck once
- Run both ends of the twine over the legs where the thighs meet the body
- Bring the ends forward and cross them under the tail, then wrap them over ends of the opposite drumstick
- Wrap around the ends of the drumsticks one additional time, then tie a knot and trim the excess twine
Rub the softened butter all over the outside of the chicken. Your hands work best for this job. Season the outside of the bird generously with salt and pepper. Grease the bottom of a heavy oven-proof skillet or small roasting pan. Add the chicken to the pan and roast for 45 to 55 minutes, removing once after about 25 minutes to baste the bird with the accumulating pan juices.
To determine doneness, insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. A reading of 165°F is perfect. Cover loosely with foil and allow the chicken to rest for 7 to 8 minutes before carving.
While the chicken rests, make the pan sauce. Skim the fat from the juices that have accumulated in the pan and discard. Heat the remaining juices over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 cup chicken stock and 3 tablespoons dry white wine. Cook until bubbly, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a spatula.
Continue cooking until the volume of liquid has reduced by about half. Add 1 tablespoon of cold butter and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To carve the chicken, slice through the skin between the thigh and the breast and gently flex the entire leg outward. Locate the round joint that connects the thigh to the body and cut through it with a sharp knife or poultry shears. Next, locate the joint between the thigh and drumstick by flexing the two leg parts away from each other.
Cut through that joint and repeat with the other leg. Remove the wings as well. To remove the breast, slice downward along the breastbone, working the knife as close to the ribcage as possible to loosen the meat in one piece. Slice each breast crosswise into smaller pieces. Arrange the chicken on a serving platter and drizzle with the pan sauce.