Perfectly Roasted Chicken – Easy and Delicious

Perfectly Roasted Chicken – Easy and Delicious

I recently had a conversation with a stranger about chicken.  This is not unusual for me, because wherever I go, I chat with people – and one of the things we humans all have in common is – we eat!  She commented that it was hard to cook quality protein every day because she felt like she was constantly in the kitchen. I explained that was my favorite place to be, but I also did understand feeling overwhelmed because healthy eating DOES require you to actually prepare and cook food.  She asked me how I manage that, and I shared my secret weapon – which isn’t a secret at all.  It’s simple: 

When you cook, make much more than you need for just that one day. 

While we were raising our hoodlums, I cooked three or four meals a week, which left us plenty of leftovers for lunches, and a few healthy dinners on extra-busy days. Now that it’s just Shawn and I, we still follow this pattern.  I don’t prepare just a few pieces of chicken, I roast a large bird that will cover us for three dinners and a couple of lunches.  When we grill steak, I get a large package and cook the whole thing.  A bigger cut of meat is almost always cheaper per pound anyway, so why not have a few leftover choices available?  That way, you can easily put together a protein-and-veggies meal in a few minutes.

So that brings me to my conversation about chicken.  This nice lady was buying and baking individual chicken breasts, and felt they were always dry and flavorless.  I introduced her to the beauty, deliciousness, and money-saving magic of the whole roasted chicken!

Sooooo much better for you, and cheaper than the roasted birds in the store!

Most people that don’t like to roast a whole chicken have these objections:

  1. The white meat is dry
  2. The skin is fattening

Those are easily-resolved issues. 

Dry meat.  The white meat is often overcooked when you bake it the traditional way (breast up higher than the thighs/legs).  Butterflying the bird, and sloooow roasting changes that.

Fatty skin. Yes, most of the fat in chicken is attached to the skin, but that’s why the whole bird benefits from cooking with the skin ON.  If you don’t want to eat the skin, then don’t eat it, but let the meat have it’s best chance at getting juicy and well-flavored. Chicken fat won’t hurt you; fat is necessary in our diets and if you don’t eat enough, you won’t be healthy, or be able to lose weight.

Let’s roast this chicken!

Cut along the backbone with shears.

I started with a 6.5 pound chicken.  When you choose a bird at the store, remember that the bigger it is, the better meat/bone ratio.  This same rule applies to turkeys.  I try to buy the largest one they’ve got!

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Yep, keep it low!
  • When you’re ready to roast, remove the innards, (I don’t eat those, so they go in the trash) rinse the bird in your clean kitchen sink, then pat it dry with paper towels. 
  • Turn the bird upside-down and cut right down it’s back with sharp kitchen shears.  (It’s easier to cut on the side of the spine instead of right down the middle.)
  • This completely opens up the bird, but take one more step to make it really flat – use the point of your knife to cut through the bone that holds both sides of the breast together.  Poke straight down and through (it’s really easy).

    Poke straight down where the top of the breasts come together.
  • Turn the bird over and push down on the breast.  It lays flat!  This keeps the breast at the same level as the legs so it doesn’t get so dry.
  • Season the bird with salt, pepper, and whatever herbs you like.  This one just has garlic and paprika, but I also love a healthy dose of thyme and rosemary.

    Butterflying is the best way to cook the chicken (or turkey) evenly without drying out the breast meat.
  • Lightly grease a low-sided roasting pan with oil (I use coconut or olive) and nestle that pretty bird in.  make sure it’s large enough so it’s not crowded. 
  • You can surround it with carrots, celery or whatever veggies can handle a long, slow roast.  Broccoli, zucchini, or other fast-cooking veggies would just get mushy.  You can add them the last 40 minutes or so if you’d like.

If you’re worried about not under or overcooking, stick a thigh with a meat thermometer.  make sure it’s secure and not touching the bone so it’ll read accurately.

Roast her (or him)!  My 6.5 pounder took four hours.  It’s done when the juices from the legs and thighs run clear, and when you wiggle the leg, it just comes right off. If the skin isn’t as crispy as you like it, just turn your oven to broil and let that sizzle it right up.  Watch it though – perfection happens quickly and you don’t want it to go too far.

When it’s done, the leg will pull off easily!

Save the juices in the pan.  I like to pour them into another container, then put it in the refrigerator right away.  See how the fat settles at the top?  When it’s chilled, that fat is solid and easy to spoon off and throw away.  Then you have chicken stock to make soup!  You can use that within a week, or put it in a freezer bag and save it for later.

This stock is nicely tinted from the paprika. All that fat on the top is easily spooned off once it’s cooled.

This makes a super tender and delicious chicken that you can serve one night for dinner, and enjoy with salad the next day, and make a great soup with another time.

Roslyn Graham

One more thing about Chicken Dinner (or any dinner)

You might be like my friend Sarah who says “We never have any leftovers!  No matter how much food I make, my family eats every last bit at dinner!”  I reminded her that she (and her husband) are the adults in charge and if she’s preparing two (or three) dinners at once,  they should explain that to the family.  If they’re not used to having any guidelines, then don’t serve several nights worth of food to them at a time.  Set out just the amount for that meal and package the rest.  The kids should help you with that so they understand the plan.  If they know the chicken and vegetables are scheduled for dinner in two days, then they’re on board.  In some cases, I know families that had to let the kids experience the consequence of someone eating food that was intended for a later date.  I recommend you don’t shield your kids from consequences.  Having a smaller dinner (because someone had an “off limits” meal) has an impact on everyone.  I found it helpful to put everything the kids could eat on the bottom shelf in the fridge.  We called it “fair game”.  That way, they didn’t have to ask me what was available every day – and we didn’t ever have a problem with dinner ingredients disappearing.

Perfectly done. Skin nicely crisp and meat very tender.

Shawn Gives up Sugar in 2017, Update!

Would you like to know how Shawn’s NO Processed Sugar for 2017 plan is going?  Beautifully.  He has successfully navigated through some tricky and tempting situations, including guests in our home bearing chocolate and ice cream (that’s his kryptonite)! He has emerged unscathed and is becoming more svelte by the day. At the beginning of…Continue Reading

My Husband is Giving up Sugar for 2017!

My Husband is Giving up Sugar for 2017!

My husband, Shawn, is giving up sugar this year.  People who know him (like me!) are impressed and maybe even a little skeptical.  But let me be a little more clear: He’s abstaining from processed sugar all year, except on specific, pre-determined dates. Natural sugars are okay, but limited. I know that some of you…Continue Reading

Clean and Vegan, Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie

Are you having one last treat before your New Year’s resolutions kick in?  If I were you, I’d pick this pie as my last hurrah!  Actually though, you don’t have to only eat this one when you’re being “good”.  This completely delicious and naughty-tasting dessert is okay occasionally because it has NO dairy, NO refined…Continue Reading

Make Your Own Extract – The Final Result

Make Your Own Extract – The Final Result

It’s been thirteen weeks since I bought vodka and started a batch of six different kinds of extract.  Here’s what they looked like back in September: They’re all finished now (they have been for at least four weeks)  See how the vodka has taken on the color of the ingredients?  They look perfect. This makes…Continue Reading

Filed Under: fun

You Need Yoga in Your Life

I made fun of yoga for about fifteen years.  I believed that to take an exercise seriously, it had to involve jumping around and weights.  (I was an aerobics instructor when I was 19-years old!)  Yoga, clearly did not do that.  Therefore – it couldn’t be a serious exercise and not worthy of my time.  To…Continue Reading

Be the Grinch this Christmas

Be the Grinch this Christmas

I like to root for the underdog, and from a very young age – that’s how I saw the Grinch.  Most of my grade school friends labeled him as the bad guy, and I had to admit he started out acting like a punk.  However, my childish mind always wondered how he came to live…Continue Reading

Filed Under: fun