Roast Chicken

Crisp, delicious skin, tender, moist meat, and no-sweat carving.
TIME 1 hour, mostly unattended
MAKES 4 servings
1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Heat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the lower third. Put a large ovenproof skillet on the rack. While it heats, trim the excess fat from the chicken, pat it dry with a paper towel, rub the outside with the oil, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

2 When the pan is scorching hot, 10 or 15 minutes later, carefully put the chicken in the pan with the breast side up. Roast, undisturbed, until the chicken is cooked through, 40 to 60 minutes, depending on its size. It’s done when a quick-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of one of the thighs registers 155–165°F or you cut into a thigh down to the bone and the juices run clear.

3 Carefully remove the pan from the oven. Tip the pan slightly to let any juices from the bird’s cavity flow into the pan, then transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. Pour the pan juices into a clear measuring cup and let it sit for a few minutes, until the fat rises to the top; use a spoon to skim off some of the excess fat. Cut up the bird and serve it with the warm pan juices.

  • 5 Ways to Add Flavor
1 Put a few sprigs of fresh herbs—like rosemary, thyme, parsley, or sage—in the cavity.
2 Sprinkle the skin with up to 1 teaspoon dried herbs—like thyme or oregano—when you add the salt and pepper.
3 Put fresh herb leaves under the skin.
4 After you skim the fat from the pan juices, stir in 1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard.
5 Or stir in 1 tablespoon balsamic or sherry vinegar.

  • Heating the pan first helps accelerate cooking the dark meat and ensures a moist chicken with a gorgeous skin without turning the bird during roasting.
  • The visual way to gauge doneness: Tip the bird so juices flow from the cavity. If they’re reddish or pink, it’s not ready. Check again every 5 minutes until they look golden. Use the leftovers for salad, or just eat whole pieces cold.
  • Don’t let carving intimidate you. Once you get a sense of where the joints connect, it becomes second nature.

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