How do I roast chicken?

If you’re a beginner, start with chicken parts, as opposed to a whole chicken.  It helps if the chicken is close to room temperature when you begin (it cooks quicker and more evenly).  I prefer parts with bones and skin.  First, I get my herbs together for chopping.  Here, I used rosemary, thyme and sage, with Borsari seasoning, available at Whole Foods.

Herbs for roasting chicken

Herbs for roasting chicken

Take the leaves off the stems (save stems for chicken stock, if you are making it), make sure they are dry and chop finely (don’t chop them in  a food processor – use a knife – they stay dry this way, which is important).  I then add the finely chopped herbs to about a tsp of the Borsari seasoning and mix well.   This is your chicken rub.

Ok, now, get all your stuff ready for the next step, because your hands will be covered in raw chicken, so make sure you have everything so you don’t go spreading germs all over your kitchen.  Get:

  • 3 paper towel sheets
  • chicken parts
  • the skillet or pan you’re going to pan roast them in (make sure it’s oven safe – no plastic, no teflon)
  • little bit of olive oil in a small bowl (so you don’t have to grab the bottle and open it with germy chicken hands)
  • your chicken rub
  • set the oven shelf to the half -way point
  • turn the oven on so it will be hot when you put the chicken in later (around 375)
  • meat thermometer (I use an Oxo Good Grips Digital Instant Read Thermometer)

Dry off the chicken parts with a paper towel or two.  Rub the chicken rub all over the chicken parts.  Be liberal, politically, and in your use of the rub on the chicken parts.  Then place the parts skin down in a fairly hot skillet that has a little bit of olive oil in it.

chicken in the skillet

chicken in the skillet

Wash your hands, and wash them well with lots of soap and hot water.  You won’t be touching raw chicken after this.  Cook it over medium high heat for about 5-8 minutes and turn them over.  You might need tongs, you might need a spatula.

Turn it over, cook on the other side for another 5-8 minutes.  Check the temperature at the thickest part of the chicken, near the bone.  When it reaches about 145 degrees F, put the pan with the chicken in it in the oven (make sure you take out the meat thermometer).

chicken is the right temperature for the oven

chicken is the right temperature for the oven

Let it roast in the oven until the meat thermometer reads about 175.  You have to cook chicken until it’s 165, but go the extra 10 degrees and you won’t be sorry.  Over 185, I find the chicken gets a bit tough, so don’t go there.

Take the chicken out and place on a covered dish to set for 5 minutes or so before serving.  During that 5 minutes, put the skillet on the stove with what’s left (drippings  and  some broth) and  cook it  over high heat.  Pour in some dry white wine (about 1/2 a cup).  This is called “deglazing the pan.” Be prepared, the wine will spatter everywhere, pour in a little at a time.  Mix everything together, scraping the pan to blend in the drippings.

deglazing the pan

deglazing the pan

The picture above is shaky because I took it while I was pouring in the wine.  This is highly inadvisable.

Let the liquid in the pan cook down so it thickens up a bit.  You can serve this drizzled over the sliced chicken (legs and drumsticks are ok to serve with the bones in them, breasts – not so much) or you can use it to drizzle over vegetables or potatoes.  You can save it and heat leftovers up in it, too.


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