Every time I mention roasting a chicken to my mother, she gives me Lecture No. 4,739 about how you “might as well buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery, because it’s cheaper.”
It’s a philosophical difference.
She’s right that it’s (usually) cheaper and very convenient, especially if you’re already at the store, to pick up a chicken that’s table-ready. But, I like to know what’s in and on my chicken, and I like to experiment with different flavors. And, I love that crisp skin. You just can’t get that with a grocery rotisserie chicken, mainly because they rush to get the bird into a plastic container, and it steams in there.
Steam is the sworn enemy of crisp skin.
On the other hand, crisp skin is a stated priority in the recipe for Martha’s Perfect Roast Chicken from “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School.” The very simple recipe. There’s no rounding up a dozen herbs or tinkering with the temperature. You pat the chicken dry (inside and out) to eliminate the steam issue; stuff it with lemon, rosemary and garlic; and roast it “fast and high” at 450 degrees F for about 50 minutes.
While the chicken’s resting sweetly on a platter, you deglaze the roasting pan with white wine or chicken stock, strain it, and add a tablespoon of butter for a rich, simple pan sauce that will make you feel like a Golden Domestic God (or Goddess). Like you could throw TVs out of hotel windows, and no one would say anything, because your pan sauce is that awe-inspiring and worshiped throughout the land.
By the time your roast chicken and pan sauce are ready, the only thing missing will be a crowd of Norman Rockwell-illustrated people sitting around the table, ready to ooh and ah over the juicy, lemony chicken and that crisp, brown skin.
Nothing beats the feeling of mastering a classic. Especially not a container of soggy chicken.
Perfect Roast Chicken
Adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School”
For the Chicken:
- 1 fresh whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 lemon, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature*
For Pan Sauce:
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter*
- To Prepare the Chicken: Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove giblets and liver from cavity; discard. Let chicken rest at room temperature 1 hour.
- Trim excess fat from cavity. Rinse chicken thoroughly under cold water, inside and out, then pat dry, making sure the cavity is as dry as possible. Season cavity with salt and pepper, then stuff with lemon, rosemary and garlic. Rub skin with 2 tablespoons butter. Tie chicken’s legs together with twine. Season all over generously with salt and pepper.
- To Roast: Place chicken in a large ovenproof skillet or small roasting pan (fitted with rack, if desired). Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding bone) registers 165 degrees F, 50 to 55 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter. Let rest 10 minutes.
- To Make Pan Sauce: Spoon and discard fat from juices in pan; pour accumulated juices in chicken cavity and plate into pan. Place pan over medium-high heat. Pour in wine or stock to deglaze pan, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Cook until reduced by half, then pour through a small fine sieve into a liquid measuring cup. Return to skillet and add 1 tablespoon butter, swirling pan until melted and incorporated.
- Carve chicken and serve with pan sauce.
*Gluten-Free Tip: Make sure your butter is gluten-free.