A whole chicken is a delightful resource towards a delectable meal that will yield leftovers that can be repurposed in so many ways. When you purchase a whole chicken instead of different sections or separate cuts of chicken, it is the most economical means to buy meat.
Perfectly roasted chicken can be downright comforting, infinitely delicious, and can result in leftovers used in virtually any recipe.
As a bonus, roasting or cooking an entire chicken can be a very easy meal that is comforting, home-styled, and filling. One of the most basic yet flavorful meals is a simple whole chicken roast with vegetables.
If you have never whole roasted a chicken before and would like to try, let us start at the very beginning and basics.
Basic Terms Encountered in Whole Chicken Recipes
Aromatics – Aromatics refer to anything used added to the cavity of a chicken, adding layers of flavor. Whole sprigs of herbs, smashed and peeled garlic cloves, quartered onions, cut lemons, oranges, apples, and so on can be added to the chicken’s cavity for a more nuanced flavor.
Brine – Dry brine is a combination of salt, spices, or aromatics (or all together) that you use to season a chicken. Like a wet brine, it results in a tender, juicy whole bird.
A wet brine uses water, salt, and spices to soak the chicken anywhere from 1 hour to up to 12, where the chicken is wholly submerged in the brine. If crispy skin is something you enjoy, make sure to pat the wet-brined chicken thoroughly dry with paper towels after removing it from the brine and let it rest in the fridge 2-24 hours before roasting. This allows the skin to dry out a bit.
Salt & Pepper Whole Roast Chicken
What you will need:
A baking pan large enough for the entire chicken with enough depth to hold any fat or juices. The optimum baking pan should have a rack that will hold the chicken a bit above the bottom of the pan, but if you do not have one, use whichever rimmed pan or oven-safe skillet you have on hand.
- 1 whole chicken, patted dry
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- Small bunch of fresh herbs if possible, such as rosemary, thyme, and sage.
- Butcher’s twine/kitchen twine
Calling for just four ingredients, this is the best base for nearly all whole chicken recipes.
For a crispy, deliciously browned chicken skin, consider leaving your chicken to refrigerate uncovered for an hour or overnight. This helps dry out the skin, ensuring you get a golden, delicious roasted skin.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge. Season the entire chicken generously and all over with salt and pepper.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your chicken breast-side up in a roasting pan or large ovenproof skillet. Stuff the cavity with your fresh herbs and tie the legs together with butcher’s twine. If you do not have any twine, it is fine to leave the legs as they are.
- Roast for 50 minutes. Open the oven door and use a spoon or baster to drizzle juices over the chicken to baste it. Continue roasting until internal temp reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, or the juices of the chicken run completely clear when the skin is pierced with a knife. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before carving.
Beyond the Basics
If you have become comfortable with roasting a whole chicken, or are already a pro at whole chicken cooking, it is time to go beyond the very basics with different aromatics, spices, vegetables and more.
For the next recipe, we introduce a very simple whole roasted chicken that is easy to do with some added ingredients that go beyond the basic recipe previously.
Whole Roasted Chicken with Broccoli-Mushroom Rice
- 1 whole chicken cut up. Cut legs and wings and remove breasts
- 1/3 cup of olive oil, divided.
- 3 teaspoons of kosher salt, divided
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper divided
- 2 (8.5 oz) pouches of ready-to-serve rice.
- 1 lb. fresh broccoli
- 8 oz package of fresh cremini mushrooms, stems removed
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub chicken pieces with 1 tbsp. olive oil, sprinkle with 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper.
- Spread the ready-to-serve rice evenly in a foil-lined sheet pan.
- Cut broccoli into florets, toss the florets with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp. pepper in a bowl spread evenly over rice. In the same bowl, toss mushrooms in remaining olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread atop broccoli.
- Place chicken pieces, skin side up, roughly 1 to 1 and ½ inches apart on top of rice, broccoli, and mushrooms.
- Bake for about 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of chicken registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let stand for five minutes and serve.
When it comes to a whole chicken, an entire meal can be cooked with and around a chicken should you desire. It is as simple as placing the chicken in your roasting or cooking pan, even a slow cooker, and surrounding the chicken with your vegetables. Cook the chicken and voila, a hearty meal in a single pot or pan.
Feel free to experiment with different ways to cook a whole chicken. Play with the aromatics, herbs, and spices for savory enhancements that bring out the tender, juicy flavor of a perfectly done chicken.
Leftovers such as dark or white meat make wonderful sandwiches and salads while bones and skin can be turned into delectable chicken stock and soups.
A whole chicken is truly one of the most versatile and economical solutions for weekly meals for any home.