There was a time in American history when the family would sit down for a roasted chicken or a roast beef on a Sunday afternoon. This image almost seems like a Norman Rockwell painting, but it was a very real weekly occurrence.
For too many the process of roasting a chicken for Sunday dinner is too daunting, too complex and requiring too much time. The truth of the matter is that it a roasted chicken provides a great meal, fills the house with mouth watering aromas, provides leftovers and is actually quite simple to prepare.
I think that a large component of the misconception is that many people equate roasting a chicken for Sunday Dinner to a mini Thanksgiving Dinner with all of the trimmings and fixings. The reality is that a roasted chicken, a side or two of vegetables and gravy is all that you need to make a great and simple meal.
With that being said, the ready to eat roasted whole chicken found at the grocery store is not a substitute for cooking one at home. Yes, it is a easy solution when in a pinch, fixed for time and can think of no other alternatives, but it is not the same as cooking a chicken at home. Not only is to bird smaller, but it is not exactly inexpensive. One of the great things about purchasing a whole chicken vacuumed sealed in plastic is that it can remain in the freezer indefinitely. I typically by a couple of chickens when the price per pound is less the one dollar. I looked for chickens that weight between four and a half to five and a half pounds.
Preparation of the chicken for roasting is quite simple, but does require some planning:
- If the bird is frozen, defrosting will need to be started a day before cooking. Typically some combination of being defrosted on the kitchen counter and the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Follow the instructions on the bag for cleaning the bird and removing the giblets. See the post: Giblets and Everything but the Kitchen Sink Gravy on how to make simple yet very flavorful homemade gravy.
- Pat the bird dry and place it on a roasting / broiler pan.
- Then apply the Herbs de Provence with Salt and Black Pepper Rub to the chicken. You will use all of the rub mixture.
- Take a handful (about ten sprigs) of fresh Rosemary and insert them into the bird cavity.
- Lightly cover the bird with a sheet of aluminum foil (does help in keeping the chicken moist) and place it in the oven. If you are using a cooking thermometer, then insert the probe into the thigh. I have used a thermometer probe in the past, but have found the instructions on the bag to be a good indicator of how much time is required to roast the chicken.
- Place in the oven. The rule of thumb is 20 minutes per pound of whole chicken. There is a lot of variability in roasting a whole bird, but this rule is a good one to follow. Example: 5 pound bird will require 100 minutes in the oven.
- About 20 – 30 minutes before the bird is scheduled to be finished roasting, I remove the aluminum foil and allow the skin to become golden brown.
- With a thermometer check for an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (USDA recommends and internal temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit). However, through the process of equilibration the internal temperature will rise to that recommended temperature as the bird rests for 20 minutes while you prepare the remainder of the meal.
- Once the bird has rested, it is now time to carve the bird for your meal.
The use of the Herbs de Provence Rub and the fresh Rosemary stuffed into the cavity of the bird provides a nice subtle herb overtone to both the flavor and the aroma of the bird. I have found that the inclusion of these two elements when roasting the chicken provides that extra boost to the flavor of the chicken meat that is sometimes lacking in chicken.
Drippings: Use of the drippings to make a rue for the homemade gravy that you can prepare for this meal. For this meal I made a gravy following the recipe detailed in the post: Giblets and Everything but the Kitchen Sink Gravy
Side Dishes: As mentioned earlier in the post, a roasted chicken for Sunday dinner does not have to be an all out affair with the equivalent of Thanksgiving Dinner fixings and trimmings. I find that some roasted vegetables (potatoes, carrots and mushrooms) or mashed potatoes and steamed string beans make for great side dishes that require only a little preparation.
Servings: A four to five pound roasted chicken will feed four adults.
Remaining Chicken: If there is any chicken remaining, then use it in chicken salad or save it to add to a soup made from the stock of the chicken carcass. In the event that you made the chicken for two people and there is half a chicken remaining, then a homemade chicken pot-pie is an awesome use of the leftovers.