In my blushing bride days, I was friends with a group of women who all stayed at home with their babies and honed their housewifely skills. We were talking about feeling somewhat capable in the kitchen when my friend Leslie said, "Oh, not me. I've never even roasted a whole chicken!"
Is that the standard, I thought? Because I had never roasted a whole chicken, either. And I never remember my mother messing with a whole bird. Well, I take that back. I remember her cutting a raw bird apart. But mostly I remember her buying chicken pieces.
But I took Leslie's comment as a challenge. And now it is a favorite meal for my family and me. It feels Sunday dinner-ish, though I don't like for it to be in the oven for the whole length of time we tend to be away at church. I make it when I want to be celebratory about a family meal.
Here's the very simple method I've decided upon, and it can certainly be tweaked according to tastes:
Remove giblets, if included, from the raw bird's cavity. Save them for the gravy, or don't.
Stuff the cavity with the flavorful vegetables of your choice. I always, ALWAYS use onions and celery, at the very least. Sometimes I throw in a carrot or something that needs to be used,but if I find I don't have onions or celery on hand, I put the bird back in the fridge and save it to make when I am better supplied. Also, I seldom chop the vegetables this finely. Usually the celery sticks are sticking immodestly from all the crevices as I put it into the oven.
And I don't go to the trouble of lacing up the chicken with special kitchen string. Look, the purpose of roasting the vegetables with the chicken is to bump them right up together so that the flavors mix. This is adequately done without getting all tidy about it, so you better believe I don't do it if I don't have to.
Next I season it. Sometimes with salt and cracked pepper, sometimes with garlic salt.
I put the roaster in a preheated oven - about 350. I find a typically-sized bird takes between 1.5-2 hours until the breast juices run clear.
I cannot serve this meal without mashed potatoes. Last night, I barely had time to get the potatoes tender in order to get my family off to their evening activities, but it is a non-negotiable menu item when we roast a bird.
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