Roast Chicken – The Basic Bird

Posted by in The Kitchen

Nothing is more evocative of the comforts of home than the aroma of a perfectly roasted chicken. With its brown, crispy skin and moist, succulent interior, the basic bird will never go out of style. And, since it costs much less than pricier chicken parts, you can’t afford not to make this a menu staple.


1 whole chicken (4 lb size)
2 tb olive oil
1 ts balsamic vinegar
1/2 ts Worcestershire sauce
2 tb coarse salt
1 tb freshly ground black pepper
1 ts garlic powder
Dried herbs or herb blend to taste

Like other basic recipes, this is a recipe more about method than anything else. I have found, though much experimentation, that the best overall, even browning occurs when the chicken is split down the backbone and butterflied. The thigh and upper breast portions, now brought up and out from their usual positions of being at the bottom of the roasting rack, can now enjoy more even exposure to the hot roasting heat of the oven, rendering more delicious, crispy skin. The breast, nestled between the thigh and leg quarters, remains moist and tender. The moderately high roasting heat sets a nice, crisp skin, while the last 20 minutes of cooking in the hot (but turned off) oven allows the chicken to finish without direct heat, thus maintaining the succulent juices.

To prepare chicken: Rinse chicken and pat dry. Split chicken down backbone. Turn chicken skin side down and locate breastbone, which will be attached to a triangular piece of cartilage. Press down gently on either side of the breastbone, and it should pop out. Remove bone and cartilage. Place chicken in dish large enough to hold whole, split bird.

Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Rub mixture all over chicken, inside and out. Sprinkle chicken all over with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add dried herbs or blend of your choice. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 30 minutes of up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare broiling rack by lining drip pan with foil and replacing rack. Spray with cooking spray.

Place chicken, skin side up, on broiling rack. Tuck wing tips back. Pour any accumulated marinade over chicken.

Roast for 30 minutes, then rotate pan (to ensure even browning). Roast for 30 minutes more, tenting chicken with foil if it begins to brown too much. Turn oven off and let chicken rest in oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and let rest 10 minutes before carving.

This basic recipe will provide a delicious, simple chicken. Add variety with a single herb, or a blend; I am especially fond of Penzey’s Old World Seasoning. Create ethnic versions such as Mexican (cumin, oregano, chile), Italian (basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary), Chinese (soy sauce, five spice powder, ginger, sesame oil)…the possibilities are endless.