Sunday afternoon and it's sunny! Let's spend the day outside, that sounds like a great idea - except for the chicken I was planning to cook for the evening. No problem - easiest roasted chicken is always good and takes little time to prepare.
Start with a pasture-raised chicken. Although my first choice is to buy a chicken from local farmers (do you know the farmers in your area who grow chickens and sell them from the farm or at a farmer's market?), our local Costco carries Coastal Organics Chickens, raised on northwestern pastures, presumably by the ocean! Rocky and Rosie chickens are also carefully raised and widely available, at least in my area.
Season the chicken: the day before, or a few hours before, I rub the skin and the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper and the herb or spice of the day. Last night I used paprika and a hint of ground cloves. Other days I've used freshly crunched rosemary leaves, dried tarragon and oregano, or my friend Ruth's suggestion: a bit of curry paste. The seasoned chicken can sit in the refrigerator up to 48 hours before cooking.
Prepare the chicken: allow the seasoned chicken to come to room temperature, either by letting it sit out for a few hours, or - short cut - placing it in the oven with the oven light on for half an hour. Place the chicken breast side up in a pan not much larger than the chicken itself, just big enough to catch any dripping oil from the legs and wings.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and start roasting the chicken. After 20 minutes, flip the chicken so the breast side is down. Another 20 minutes, flip it again so the breast side is up and after another 10-15 minutes start checking for doneness.
A roasted chicken is done when the leg and drumstick move freely from the body with a gentle pull, or when a thermometer inserted into the chicken thigh measures 165 degrees.
Remove the chicken from the oven, cover loosely with foil and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before carving. You'll just have time to whip together a fresh salad to serve with the chicken.
Of course this is just the beginning of a chicken's journey through the kitchen. Leftover roasted chicken is great for salad and stir fry dishes, and the leftover carcass, with just remnants of meat remaining, is the perfect start for homemade chicken broth. Enjoy!