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How to Roast a Chicken

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How to Roast a Chicken

Learn one basic recipe and enjoy roast chicken in a variety of healthy dishes.

Roast chicken may be the ultimate Sunday dinner. Not only is it an easy-to-prepare comfort food, but it’s a nutritious pick, too: Poultry is rich in vitamin B3, which can boost memory and improve mental focus, and each serving delivers more than 30 grams of protein.

Roast chicken also gives you a good bang for your buck. Every part is valuable, including the carcass, which you can freeze and use later to make a delicious stock.

And if you roast a chicken on the weekend, you can use it as the foundation for other meals during the week, including the chicken-based salad, bowl, and hash featured on the following pages. Chop up the meat and store it in an airtight glass container for up to four days.

This roast-chicken recipe is simple, but there are a few secrets to success. First, use an instant-read thermometer to help ensure your chicken is cooked all the way through without overcooking.

Second, be generous with your seasonings. This classic recipe uses fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage, along with lemon, but feel free to experiment. Filling the cavity with aromatics will keep the breast from drying out while the dark meat cooks.

Finally, for a crisp, golden skin, add butter and salt to the bird’s exterior and roast at high heat to develop the chicken’s flavor and give it that lovely crackling texture.

Classic Roast Chicken

Classic Roast Chicken

Makes six servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: one hour, plus 10 minutes to rest

Ingredients

  • 1 4½– to 5-lb. organic chicken
  • 2 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or ½ tsp. dried)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ tsp. dried)
  • 2 fresh sage leaves

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Pat chicken dry with paper towels, then rub the inside of the cavity with ½ teaspoon salt. Coat the outside of the bird with unsalted butter.
  • Combine pepper and remaining salt; lift as much of the skin as possible and rub half the mixture underneath and the remaining half on the outside of the skin.
  • Put two quarters of the lemon, as well as the garlic and herbs, into the cavity.
  • Set chicken on a roasting rack in a baking dish, breast side up. (Trussing is optional.) Roast until meat thermometer reads 163 degrees F when inserted in the thigh and the juices run clear, about one hour. (The temperature will climb to 165 degrees F as it rests. This is called carryover cooking.)
  • Let rest 10 minutes. Carve. Squeeze remaining lemons over chicken and serve.
  • Refrigerate up to four days, or freeze for up to four months.

Curried Chicken Salad

Curried Chicken Salad

Makes four servings
Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4½ cups chopped roast chicken
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs. lime juice
  • 1 tbs. curry powder
  • ½ tsp. ground gingerroot
  • ½ tsp. sea salt

Directions

  • In a medium bowl, combine chicken, apple, and raisins. Separately, whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, lime juice, curry powder, ginger, and sea salt. Add the yogurt mixture to the chicken, and stir gently until combined.

Tip: For additional crunch and a pop of flavor, try adding chopped green onions, diced celery, slivered almonds, or chopped fresh cilantro.

Chicken Cozy Bowl

Chicken Cozy Bowl

Makes four servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes, including time for rice to stand

Ingredients

  • 2¼ cups organic chicken stock
  • 1/3 tsp. finely chopped saffron threads or turmeric
  • 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs. finely diced yellow onion
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed
  • 1¼ cup chopped roast chicken
  • 3 tbs. chopped olives of choice
  • 1 tbs. diced pimiento or roasted peppers
  • Spritz of lemon juice
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  • In a large saucepan, bring stock to a boil. Pour into a small, heatproof bowl, and add the saffron.
  • In the same saucepan, warm olive oil over medium-high heat, and then add the onion and ¼ teaspoon sea salt. Sauté until soft, about two minutes.
  • Add the rice to the saucepan and stir until well mixed and slightly toasted, about one minute.
  • Stir in the broth and another ¼ tsp. sea salt. Bring the rice to a boil, and then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes.
  • Stir in the chopped chicken, olives, pimiento, and lemon juice. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 12 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve, garnished with parsley.

Tip: Boost the phytonutrient factor by mixing in a cup of spinach or Swiss chard in the last five minutes of cooking.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Chicken Hash

Roasted Sweet Potato and Chicken Hash

Makes four servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp. minced fresh thyme (or ¼ tsp. dried)
  • 1½  tsp. minced fresh sage (or ¼ tsp. dried)
  • ¼ tsp. crushed fennel seeds
  • Pinch red-pepper flakes
  • 1 cup chopped roast chicken
  • 3 cups baby spinach

Tip: Amp up the protein by topping each serving with a poached or fried egg.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Put the diced sweet potato into a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sweet potato evenly in a single layer on the prepared pan and roast for 20 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside.
  • While sweet potato is roasting, heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. When oil shimmers, add onion and a pinch of salt, and sauté until translucent, about four minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme, sage, fennel seeds, and red-pepper flakes, and sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the chicken, sweet potatoes, and spinach, stirring until well combined and the spinach is just wilted.
  • Serve on plates with a grind of black pepper and a pinch of salt.

Why No Numbers? Readers sometimes ask us why we don’t publish nutrition information with our recipes. We believe that (barring specific medical advice to the contrary) if you’re eating primarily whole, healthy foods — an array of sustainably raised vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, meats, fish, eggs, whole-kernel grains, and healthy fats and oils — you probably don’t need to stress about the numbers. We prefer to focus on food quality and trust our bodies to tell us what we need.  — The Editors

WEB EXTRA!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Makes six servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • ½ cup peeled and diced carrot
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 2 tsp. seeded and diced jalapeño pepper
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup thinly sliced roast chicken
  • 2 tbs. plus ½ tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • 2 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  • Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, jalapeño, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt; sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, three to five minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and oregano, and tomatoes with their juice; cook one minute. Add broth and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • As soup simmers, stack the tortillas and cut into ½-inch-wide strips. Place on a baking sheet and bake until crisp, seven to eight minutes.
  • Add the chicken, 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt to the soup. Simmer uncovered for five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the ½ teaspoon of lime juice. Add another squeeze of lime juice or pinch of salt to taste.
  • Serve in bowls garnished with crumbled tortilla strips, avocado, and cilantro.
WEB EXTRA!

No-Fuss Roast-Chicken Stock

Makes 4 quarts
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: two hours 

Ingredients

  • 1 roast-chicken carcass, plus any pan juices
  • 2 unpeeled yellow onions, cut into chunks
  • 4 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
  • 1 bunch celery, including the heart, cut into thirds
  • ½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions

  • Rinse the vegetables well.  In a 12-quart stockpot, combine the chicken carcass, onions, carrots, celery, parsley, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Fill the pot with the water to 2 inches below the rim, cover, and bring to a boil.
  • Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and skim off the scum that has risen to the top. Simmer, uncovered, for one to two hours.
  • Strain the broth through a large sieve, and then stir in salt to taste. Let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate overnight. Skim as much fat as you can from the top of the broth before dividing into airtight containers. Refrigerate for up to four days or freeze for up to three months.

, is the author of several cookbooks, including Clean Soups and The Healthy Mind Cookbook, and is the director of the Healing Kitchens Institute at Commonweal. She lives in San Rafael, Calif.

Photography by Andrea D'Agosto; Prop Styling by Alicia Buszczak; Food Stylist: Paul Jackman

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