Anyone who knows us well knows – it’s always roast chicken at the Reiser’s – especially on Sunday night! There is something just so hearty and calming about roast chicken dinner before a busy work week. As many people know, both Andrew and I travel almost every week, so these past few years, a hot roast chicken dinner on Sunday afternoon is just what we need before packing our bags and heading out for another week. Not only is it delicious, but it’s super easy to make! I make it so many different ways, but my favorite is “the classic,” with lemon, garlic and thyme. Served with roasted potatoes and green beans, or crispy kale, it’s the perfect Sunday dinner.
There aren’t many recipes I think people should have memorized, but knowing how to make a perfectly juicy roasted chicken is definitely one of them. By learning how to properly roast the chicken and letting it rest to come up to temperature, it’s so juicy you don’t even need gravy – in fact, I almost never serve gravy with it. Just a drizzle of the pan juices is all you need. Bon appetit!
1, 3-4 lb organic whole chicken
1 yellow onion cut in large slices
1 lemon, quartered
1 head of garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
~15 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup Pinot Grigio wine
The night before you’re going to serve the chicken, unwrap it from its packaging, remove the neck and gizzards (usually in the cavity) and discard them – you can use them if you like, I prefer not to. Sprinkle the chicken with 1 tsp kosher sea salt, and place the bird in the fridge uncovered overnight. Salting the bird ahead of time allows the salt to really get into the meat, which keeps it juicy and gives it great flavor throughout. By leaving the chicken uncovered, the skin will dry out which will allow it to get extra crispy when it roasts – and everyone loves crispy chicken skin!
Remove the bird from the fridge 1-2 hours before roasting to allow it to come to room temperature – this is really important! If you place the chicken directly in the oven while it’s cold, your cooking times won’t be accurate.
Preheat your oven to 425F.
In the bottom of a large roasting pan, toss the cut onions and 3/4 of the lemon in a little oil to keep them from burning. Pile the onions and lemon in the middle of the pan to create a little bed for the chicken.
Place 1 tsp each of salt and pepper inside the cavity of the chicken, and place one quarter of the lemon, all the thyme and the garlic inside the cavity. Using your hands, bend the wings back behind the chicken and tuck them underneath the bird to secure them (think if putting your hands behind your head, it should look like the chicken is doing that). Using kitchen string, tie the drumsticks together. This helps keep the chicken together so it roasts evenly. Place the chicken in the roasting pan on top of the onions and lemon. Drizzle on 1-2 tbsp of good olive oil and use your hands to coat the entire chicken in the oil. Sprinkle the bird with 1 more tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Add the wine to the pan, but do not pour it on the chicken.
Roast the chicken uncovered for 1 hour, and do not baste it (you won’t get crispy skin if you do). After an hour, check the temperature of the chicken with a digital thermometer, or slice between the leg and the thigh. If the juices run clear and/or the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast is 155F, it’s done. It normally will need 15-20 more minutes, but I always like to check after an hour to be sure.
When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and carefully transfer the bird to a clean cutting board. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 15 minutes, up to about 30. Don’t worry, it will still be hot! Letting the chicken rest does two things; first, it allows the chicken to come up to full temperature, which for poultry is 160F without overcooking it. When you roast it in the oven right to 160F, the residual cooking will make it dry. Second, allowing the meat to rest lets all the juices stay in the meat which keeps it tender and juicy. When the chicken is rested, carve the bird and serve hot with your favorite side dishes. I usually spoon a little of the pan drippings over the carved meat to keep it moist and delicious. You can also serve it with the onions from the pan which are tender and delicious with all the flavors of the chicken in them.
I hope you enjoy this classic Sunday night dinner as much as we do! Enjoy!