Friday, September 4, 2009

Simplest Roasted Chicken

A whole roasted chicken is a beautiful thing to behold. But in practical terms they aren't, well, very practical. They can take an hour to cook, and you're left with 2 breast, 2 thigh, 2 drumstick, and 2 wing pieces, along with a bunch of extra stuff nobody is going to eat. (And it wasn't like anyone saw my lovely whole chickens--I would carve it up before serving it, anyway.) So if you're willing to give up the very pretty picture of a whole golden bird, I have a super easy, super fast way for you to get a whole lot of roasted chicken, complete with juicy meat and crispy, delicious skin. An added bonus is more pieces equals more bones, which equals more yummy homemade chicken stock (yes, you can!).

I used to roast whole chickens. Then I started buying whole chickens cut up (to make the cooking time faster), but I still just got two of each part. Then one day as I was surveying the selection of chicken at my store and it dawned on me: I can buy packages of "parts" and make as much as I want. Craziness, I know, but I've never looked back. I buy packages of drumsticks, thighs, and split breasts, all with the bones still in and the skin still on. I don't buy wings because there just isn't enough meat on them to make it worth my while (apologies to my sweet husband who likes the wings).


Pre-heat your oven to 425. Line a baking sheet (or two, depending on how many pieces you're roasting) with heavy duty foil (regular foil isn't big enough to cover all of the sides of the baking sheet and contain the fat and juice rendered during roasting). Spray the foil with non-stick spray. Trim any excess skin and position the chicken pieces on the foil, making sure the pieces aren't touching--touching pieces means less exposed surface area for crisping. Also, if the pieces are crowded they are more likely to steam in each other's juices than roast in the super-hot air of your oven.

Season each piece of chicken with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper, and roast for 30-35 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 155-160 (I shoot for 155). Remove the baking sheets from the oven, cover the chicken loosely with foil, and let them stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Of course I serve the thighs and drumsticks as they are, but I like to take the breast meat off the bone and slice it; while it may be amusing to watch someone try to eat a chicken breast off the bone, it's a little undignified for the eater. And slicing the breast meat means people can have both white meat and the more succulent dark meat without going overboard on their meat intake.

To take the breast off the bone I like to use my hands rather than a knife because I think it gives me more control. (And I wear latex gloves because I detest trying to dig all the stuff out from under my fingernails.) Hold the rib portion in one hand and use your other hand to grasp the whole breast portion.

And pull gently.

Make sure you also get the tenderloin that's hiding under the breast meat.

Don't throw out the bones, and don't let any of your dinner guests (kids, spouse) throw out their bones, either. Put them in a zip-top bag and stash them in the fridge until you've finished off the chicken. Then you can use them to make chicken stock (recipe and method coming as soon as we finish off this chicken). Put the bag in the freezer if you can't get to making the stock right away.

Slice the breast meat cross-wise and enjoy!


  1. I always watch people roast whole chickens (like Tyler Florence) on TV and often wondered why since everyone only eats the legs, breasts and thighs. I figured if I wanted to look at a nice whole chicken, I could just grab a premade one from the grocery store!

  2. OH are you missing out on the best things of life! Maybe it is the old country girl in me, but give me the ribs, back and definitely those wings. I buy them by the big frozen bag full from Costco!

    I roast my chicken almost like you do. I have a big rack that I put over my cookie sheet and then the hot air can circulate around the chicken. I quit lining my pan with foil because after removing the chicken pieces, I pour a little water in the bottom of the pan to "boil" out the chicken drippings. After the water is good and hot, I pour it into a glass measuring cup, chill in the fridge, remove the fat and have the start of wonderful gravy or soup.

    WW does have a lot of great recipes, don't they? I need to get back on the wagon and lose 35 more pounds!


I'd love to hear from you! Please use the form below to send any questions or comments you may have :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...