Roasting a Real Chicken
There’s not a great difference in how to cook a real chicken, but there is some. It’s important to understand that there will be more texture and ‘tooth’ to birds that have actually been able to walk and forage. The wonderful advantage to this is that there is also a proportional increase in flavor (and nutrition too)! So a little care can go a long way. When roasting start with the breast down. This will give the dark meat a little more time in the heat and allow the fattier dark meat parts to sort of self baste the drier white meat. So here are the super simple steps with options:
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Salt the whole bird thoroughly and generously (don’t skimp on salt!) Pepper lightly. Options: a.) put a little butter under the breast skin. b.) insert 1 or 2 lemons and/or 1 or 2 onions, cut in quarters, and some herb sprigs (parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme) into the cavity.
- Put the chicken, breast down, on a rack in a roasting pan with 1 cup water in the bottom. Options: a.) use half to all white wine instead of water. b.) put quartered, olive-oiled onions, carrots, beets, turnips or other hard vegetables (not potatoes) in the pan.
- Cook for 20-30 minutes for a 3-4 lb chicken (See doneness check below.**).
- Invert chicken to breast side up. Baste with pan juices. Stir optional vegetables if used. Cook for another 20-30 minutes.
- Bring to the table whole on a platter with the optional internal and external vegetables arranged around.
**To test the chicken for doneness simply grab the end of a drumstick with a kitchen towel and give a pull-twist. If you feel the leg yield, and begin to give way—STOP. (Don’t go and yank the leg off!) It’s done. Serve.