There is something wonderfully old fashioned about roasting a chicken. It’s the kind of thing that people do all too rarely, it seems to me; resorting instead to cooking the ubiquitous boneless skinless chicken breasts. But dimes for dollars, as with most things, you’ll get more value by buying and cooking in bulk, and a whole chicken can’t be beat! The classic seasonings here keep the meat moist and the skin crispy, and you’ll have more than enough for leftovers—and for quick, easy meal preparation, leftover cooked chicken is one of the most useful things to have on hand. Not to mention the added bonus of having all the bones for making homemade stock. Once you start buying whole chickens and roasting them, you’ll be converted! This delicious recipe fills the house with a savory aroma and pairs beautifully with just about anything.
- 3½ pound chicken, preferably organic
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 lemon, halved
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 slice day-old sourdough bread, about ¾-inch thick
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Olive oil
The day before you’re planning to roast the chicken, season it well inside the cavity and outside with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with the garlic cloves, the lemon halves, and half of the thyme sprigs. Refrigerate until you’re ready to cook the chicken, then take the chicken out of the refrigerator about thirty minutes before you plan to roast it.
Preheat the oven to 425° F. In a large pan or cast iron skillet, place the piece of bread in the center of the pan. Lightly coat the chicken with olive oil. Strip the remaining thyme sprigs and rosemary sprigs of their leaves and mince them finely. Add the leftover sprigs to the cavity of the chicken. Carefully ease your fingers between the chicken breast and the skin to deposit about a teaspoon of the minced herbs. Rub the outside of the chicken with the remaining herbs.
Place the chicken in the oven and roast for about 50 minutes, basting every 15 minutes with the rendered drippings. When the chicken is cooked through—once the breast has reached an internal temperature of about 160°—and is a dark golden brown, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes (the temperature will continue to rise about five degrees) tented with tin foil, before cutting into quarters and serving with additional lemon wedges for garnish.