Chicken is a tasty canvas that absorbs flavorful marinades and spices easily. I get whole chicken for less than a buck per pound so the price is right for this pullet fan.
My Roast Chicken with Rosemary can be adapted for any favorite chicken pieces you can get on sale - I like to cook with budget leg quarters and you can add rosemary to chicken breasts, too.
The only prep is loosening the chicken skin around the breast and legs. Wash your hands and slip your finger under the breast meat first, it's the easiest way to start. Slide a finger (or two) left to right. I have used a wood spoon. Metal utensils may tear the skin too easily. But if you tear the skin it's okay; don't worry about it as you will get better the more you do it.
Leg and thigh skin is a little trickier to work with. Just loosen as much as you can - rosemary is so pungent, it only takes a few needles to flavor the legs and thighs. If you have large sprigs of rosemary, and don't want to fool around with all the skin, just slide a branch or two under the breast and add some more to the chicken cavity (of course remove the large sprigs before serving.)
Everyone and their grandmother has a roasting method for chicken, and it mainly revolves around how to keep the breast moist. Some go for brining the bird in a salty solution, ultimately too salty for me - you can't rinse it all off. A roasting bag works pretty well, although the skin stays soggy. You can cover the breast with foil the first hour of baking - a pretty good method. If you have a cast iron skillet then heat it up and add the chicken - this will reduce the cooking time because the dark meat cooks a fast as breast meat (plus this reduces the overall cooking time, too.)
Pssst...here's my secret: roast the bird upside down! And turn it over after an hour, so the breast skin get crispy. But you can use any method you like. Mainly cook chicken at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes per pound. You want juices near the thigh bone to run clear - no red or pink juices. A final check is when an inserted meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
Any way you cook it, my Roast Chicken with Rosemary will have everyone at the dinner table asking for seconds....and thirds!
Roast Chicken with Rosemary - Video
Play it here. Video runs 2 minutes, 11 seconds.
My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.
Ingredients (2-4 servings)
- 1 whole chicken - mine was 5 pounds.
- 2-3 sprigs of rosemary - Remove needle-like leaves from stem. Okay to use a tablespoon of dried rosemary.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Remove any chicken parts from the bird cavity. (You can salt and pepper the heart, gizzard, liver and neck and bake it with the whole chicken - neck takes 45 minutes to cook, but offal bits only take about half hour or less.)
Rinse off the bird. Use your finger(s) and gently separate the skin from the flesh. You don't have to totally loosen all the skin, just enough to get some rosemary needles on the breast, legs and thighs.
I loosen the skin around the breast tip (above the large chicken cavity) and wishbone/neck area. The skin may tear a little, but that's okay.
The leg and thigh is a little trickier to do. If you flip the bird on it's back you can work a finger into the thigh area. You only need to loosen some skin around the thick part of the leg.
Again don't to go overboard with the skin loosening. If you don't want to trouble yourself with all that, then just make 2 or 3 loose areas and slide in a whole sprig at a time. I would have 2 sprigs, one for each side of the breast and a half sprig for each thigh.
Bake the whole chicken at 350 degrees, for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, to 2 hours total. Baking time will vary depending on how big the chicken is. For my 5 pound bird I roasted it for an hour and a half. You can average 20 minutes baking at 350 degrees, per pound of chicken.
A whole chicken is ready when a meat thermometer inserted into the inner thigh (close to but not touching the thigh bone) reads at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C.)
I usually just slice into the leg/thigh at the joint and look for clear juices. If the breast is done and the leg/thigh is not, first cover the breast in foil, then just slice the thigh to the joint (exposing the red part,) and let it bake a little longer, as you set the table. The leg/thigh may only need another 10 minutes more.
One way to get a moist chicken, without drying out the breast, is to bake it backside up, or breast-side down, to start. After an hour I turn the chicken over and finish baking breast-side up. Looks funny to start, but the breast meat ends up very juicy.
And the only trick is turning over a hot bird. You want to remove it from the oven first. I use two large spoons, one inserted into the neck and the other spoon inserted into the large cavity near the legs. Then pick up the bird and turn it over, breast-side up. Return it to the oven to finish browning the breast skin.
Another great way to roast the bird is the normal way (breast side is up), but on a hot cast iron skillet. Cast iron will hold heat and cook the dark meat quicker, about the same time it will take the breast to cook through. That's the beauty of this method - both dark meat and white meat are done at the same time. Plus you shave off 15 minutes of cooking time (it took an hour and fifteen minutes for mine.)
But you can cook your bird anyway you like.
This recipe works for chicken pieces like leg quarters or a whole breast. The cooking time is shorter, closer to an hour.
If you don't have rosemary, try out any fresh herb you can get. If I'm not familiar with an herb, add a little to a quick egg scramble to taste the cooked herb flavor.