The Recipe: How to roast a chicken fast – in an hour – but speed isn’t what makes this my signature roast-chicken recipe. It's the simple ingredients, just a fresh chicken, salt, pepper and a hot oven. It’s the crispy, salty skin. It’s the moist and tender breast meat and the juicy succulent dark meat. One more thing? Roast chicken is the perfect meal for unexpected company. Tis a wonder, this roasted chicken.
The Conversation: How to feed a crowd on a whim, roast chicken and a fall menu.
"... so fast & easy & the best roast chicken I've had!" ~ Anonymous
"... what a great recipe it is! ... Mmm!" ~ Charlie
The heads-up arrived at five o’clock. “Some people are coming for supper.” How many? I asked, guessing two, maybe six, as many as twelve. He hesitated, then began to count out loud. "Fourteen, I think," was the answer.
Now, this man and I, we feed small crowds on a whim with regularity. We love the kitchen dance, chopping and stirring, serving and savoring home-cooked food. But this night, a hint of panic strained his voice. Were we over-committed? Was carryout pizza the smart answer? “What should we make?” he asked, hoping for a ready answer.
Without hesitation, I answered: “Set the oven to 450, then run to Whole Foods for chicken. We’ll eat around seven.”
Sure enough, with able assistance from an extra pair or two of hands (thank you, Laura and girls!), that night three generations gathered round the table to a feast, roast chicken, roughly mashed sweet potatoes and carrots spiked with cardamom, a big salad and for dessert, hot-from-the-oven fruit crisp topped with ice cream. Menus like this (below), they’re worth making again and again, for four or fourteen – or forty, just with a little more notice, please!
QUICK SUPPER RECIPE:
FAST ROAST CHICKEN
Time to table: 1-1/4 hours
Serves 1 for a week or 4 for dinner plus leftovers for chicken soup
- 1 whole chicken, preferably never frozen (why? see below), either a roasting chicken or a frying chicken
- Generous amount of kosher salt, a tablespoon or two or more
- Freshly ground black pepper, optional
PREP Preheat the oven to 450F/230C.
Rinse the chicken inside and out, then dry it well inside and out with paper towels. "Rain" the bird with salt, lightly coating the skin so a salty crusty layer will form during roasting; cover the breast and back sides, the legs and wings, too, then do several turns of ground pepper all over. Place the chicken breast-side down in an oven-proof skillet or on a foil-covered rimmed baking sheet. (Yes, that bird is bare-nekkid except for salt. Yes, that bird is about to be blasted at high heat.)
ROAST Roast for an hour.
REST Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil, let rest 15 minutes. To serve, slice off the legs and thighs, then cut hot slices off the breasts or cut into the breasts down the center and serve it on the bone.
EXTRA CREDIT If you like, before carving, set up to make Homemade Chicken Stock from the carcass, just throw the bones right into a skillet to roast while eating dinner.
Per 4 ounces chicken white meat, without/with skin: 129/210 Calories; 1/11g Tot Fat; 1/4g Sat Fat; 65/75mg Cholesterol; 367/363mg Sodium; 0g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 26/23g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 3/5 & PointsPlus 3/5 & SmartPoints 2/5
Per 4 ounces chicken dark meat, without/with skin: 141/268 Calories; 4/19g Tot Fat; 1/6g Sat Fat; 90/91mg Cholesterol; 386/372mg Sodium; 0g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 23/19g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 3/7 & PointsPlus 3/6 & SmartPoints 2/8
STILL-FASTER ROAST CHICKEN? Stop by the grocery store, grab a hot rotisserie chicken and salad fixings from the salad bar. Come home, pour a glass of wine, sit down to supper. Seriously. Rotisserie chickens from the grocery store are a good value and perhaps the one ‘convenience’ food worth picking up from the deli section.
WHY FRESH CHICKEN? WHY NEVER-FROZEN CHICKEN? In 2008 and 2009, I cooked one chicken after another, frying chicken one week, roasting chicken the next, baking chicken the next, grilling chicken after that. I tested free-range chickens, organic chickens, farm-raised chickens, branded chickens, grocery-store chickens, warehouse-club chickens, anything with breasts and wings, basically. In the end, I became much partial to the taste and texture of fresh chicken, that is, chicken that's never been frozen. This means I make regular out-of-the-way trips to Whole Foods, the only place to buy fresh chicken in St. Louis. Readers, if you know where to buy fresh chicken in your hometowns, please do say!
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