Fast Roast Chicken: My Signature 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.

Fast Roast Chicken

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, 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!

ALANNA’s TIPS Once upon a time, roasting chickens were ‘old and tough’ and needed slow cooking to tenderize. But these days, the main difference between a roasting chicken and a frying chicken is that roasting chickens are slightly bigger and a little more expensive. I cook them interchangeably. Some times, I truss the chicken, creating a sort of chicken corset with kitchen string. Trussing isn’t necessary but once the chicken is in a tight wad, it just looks cool out of the oven. Other times I use a V-roaster but again, it’s really not needed. Do drag a slice or meat through the delicious chicken drippings while you’re carving, cook’s treat! But as is, the drippings are too salty for gravy. To make chicken gravy, add a good cup or two of chicken stock to the drippings, then thicken. (See how to make turkey gravy, just substitute chicken stock for turkey stock.) Weight Watchers, take special note of the chicken nutrition information, white meat versus dark meat (not much difference) and eating the chicken skin versus not eating the chicken skin (a huge difference). This makes chicken skin a definite indulgence, luckily, this salty chicken is worth eating, many roasted-chicken skins are not. Still, armed with information, it's better to know.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Become a Kitchen Parade fan on Facebook!

QUICK SUPPER RECIPE:
FAST ROAST CHICKEN

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
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

Preheat the oven to 450F. 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 and about to be blasted at high heat.) Roast for an hour.

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.

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 dinner eating dinner.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE 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 3/5 points
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 3/7 points
Adapted from Bouchon by Thomas Keller (Please note: Product Disclosure)

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!


A Menu Starring Fast Roast Chicken

Olivada with Crackers

~ Fast Roast Chicken ~
(recipe above)
Rustic Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Carrots

Lettuce Greens Tossed with Chopped Vegetables
with My Favorite Dressing

Cranberry Apple Crisp

More Fast Chicken Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Baked Chicken with Herb-Roasted Potatoes Chicken with Creamy Cider Gravy Quick Supper: Kung Pao Chicken


Quick Links to This Page

(for easy bookmarking and searching)
~ Why Fresh, Never Frozen Chicken? ~
~ Calories & Weight Watchers Points in Chicken ~
white meat versus dark meat, with the chicken skin versus without





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We love roast chicken - usually we do "beer can" chicken, either in the convection oven or outside on the gas grill. The meat stays very moist and skin always comes out perfectly and yes, it IS a worthwhile indulgence! Then the remaining beer, combined with the de-fatted drippings and boiled down, makes a fine gravy.
 
We love roast chicken. I roast mine in a Le Creuset French oven but at different temperatures and with different seasoning than just salt and pepper...do you think a Dutch / French oven would work in your recipe instead of a foil tent? The advantage to using a Dutch / French oven is that you can later make soup right in that pot (and pick up the fond and lovely burned bits and have one less thing to wash...). :)
 
~M ~ I wouldn't use a French oven because the sides are too high. This chicken needs a blast of heat to cook all the way through, the pan's side would block it.

And just to be clear, I use foil to cover the baking sheet while the chicken roasts, not the chicken itself. And then I use foil to cover the chicken and keep it hot while it rests. So there's no 'tent' to trap the moisture and make the skin all soft and soggy.
 
Have you tried Eckert's in Belleville IL for fresh chicken? They advertise to pick up their meat from local farmers and their meat is never frozen.
 
Anonymous ~ Thanks, I haven't, in fact have never been to their store! But I must, especially now that they've expanded so much. Thank you for the tip!
 
so simple! one question, before i run to make this: how much should the chicken weigh? i suppose this could mean the difference between moist and dry chicken.
 
Anonymous ~ Good question, but you know, I've never paid attention because, ha! I think of a chicken as 'serving 4 plus leftovers'. I'll check, next time and add that to the recipe. However, I'm doing a little math, they're usually $7 to $8 (so $1-$2 more than a grocery store rotisserie chicken, $2-$3 than a warehouse-club rotisserie chicken) so that would mean the chickens are close to 4 pounds.
 
Roasted chicken is one of my go to faves for company too! Seems like we have people over on a whim all the time! My favorite way to roast it is in my convection microwave. It usually takes about a hour - super fast. My receipe uses yogurt to give the bird it's moist with crispy skin taste. My mouth is watering right now.
 
I made this for dinner - so fast & easy & the best roast chicken I've had! Thanks!
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna