Introduction: Quick Roast Chicken

About: I helped start Instructables, previously worked in biotech and academic research labs, and have a degree in biology from MIT. Currently head of Product helping young startups at Alchemist Accelerator, previous…

Roasting is a simple, classic way to cook a chicken, and the resulting birds are delicious every time.

This recipe is as basic as it gets - with just 5 minutes of prep time, you can pull the finished roast chicken out of the oven in roughly 45 minutes. Give it a try! This recipe is based on the simple roast chicken from Bouchon by Thomas Keller.

Cross-reference: How to Truss a Chicken.

Step 1: Gather Tools and Ingredients

You'll need:

- one chicken
- a paper towel
- large-grain salt (kosher or large-flake sea salt are fine)
- pepper
- a clean (and cleanable) surface to work on (I use the interior of the butcher paper the chicken came in)
- a piece of clean natural kitchen twine long enough to truss the chicken, at least 30 inches. Use cotton, hemp, etc - nothing that will melt, discolor, or otherwise isn't fit for contact with food and/or heat.
- an oven-proof pot
- an oven
- meat thermometer, preferably instant-read
- soap and water to clean yourself up
- bleach to clean any bits of counter contaminated with raw chicken
- a sharp knife or kitchen shears
- a spoon

Step 2: Preheat Oven and Pan

Turn your oven to 450F, and set the rack to the middle or low position. Put your pan in the oven to heat as well.

Step 3: Dry Chicken

This step is easy to forget, but key to success. Simply dry the chicken thoroughly, inside and out. Pay special attention to the body cavity, as the uneven surfaces let moisture hide.

We're aiming for crispy skin, and any remaining water will turn into steam. Rather counterproductive, so do a good job toweling off.

Step 4: Salt Body Cavity

Pour about a teaspoon of salt into the body cavity, and rub against the insides. Dump out any extra salt.

Step 5: Truss Chicken

If you've never trussed a chicken before, try it - it's easy, and only takes a minute. I posted a separate trussing Instructable here. If you already know how, grab your twine and truss away.

This step helps create one large thermal mass so the chicken cooks evenly.

Step 6: Salt and Pepper Chicken

Grind fresh pepper over the surface of the chicken, and cover it in a light rain of salt. (More like hail, I suppose.)

If you want to add other dried herbs and spices, now's a great time. I've had great results with Ethiopian berebere. (if you've got fresh herbs, save them for later.)

Step 7: Drop Into Hot Pan

Open the oven, pick up the trussed, seasoned bird by the ankles, and place it breast-side up in the hot pan. It will sizzle a bit, but if you've dried the chicken it shouldn't spit.

Step 8: Cook

Cook the chicken at 450F for around 45 minutes, depending on the size of the bird. You'll be able to tell when it's near-done - the bird will be golden-brown and smell awesome.

To test, put your instant-read thermometer in the fleshy bit between thigh and body, and pull the bird out when you get a reading of 155F. (The temperature will rise to about 165F as the bird rests.)

1) Keep your thermometer away from the bones, as they will hold more heat and throw off your readings. Test multiple spots if you're not sure.
2) If the top seems to be drying out, or if you've added extra spices that look to be getting too toasty, it's fine to baste the bird with a spoonful of chicken fat from the pan as necessary, but you probably won't need it.

Step 9: Finish and Serve

Immediately after removing the chicken, baste the top with pan drippings. If you have fresh herbs to add (thyme, oregano, etc) add them to the pan drippings and let them steep for a moment before basting. Snip the twine around the chicken legs, and gently unwrap from the rest of the body. (it will come off easily.)

I generally start eating bits (wings, tail) now, but if you want to be formal:
Baste again, let the bird rest about 10 minutes, then baste once more before serving. It looks gorgeous, so make a big production of carving it at the table!