6 Steps to a Fall-Off-the-Bone, Perfect Roast Chicken

The weather in New York hasn't exactly been frightful lately, but it's certainly served as a reminder that cool weather is right around the corner.

Weather like this makes me want to cozy up at home with a hearty meal -- and I'd be willing to bet I'm not alone. At times like these, I turn to roast chicken. I find it's something that'll stick to your ribs without a lot of work (even though it seems complicated).

I admit roast chicken doesn't offer instant gratification -- you have to be in it for the long haul -- and it will create a lot of work for your dishwasher. But, the basic steps aren't anything only expert chefs can pull off. Plus, if you start now, you'll have plenty of time to practice before Thanksgiving, at which point a bigger bird will merely require more time in the oven. But by then you'll be an expert roaster and it'll be child's play.

Just follow these six easy steps ...


1. Chicken: Rinse and pat dry, then add a little salt, pepper, rosemary, and/or whatever herbs your heart desires. Put your chicken in a 400-degree oven and baste every 20 minutes or so. (A four-pound chicken will take about an hour. [Factor in about another 10 minutes for each additional pound.] Just make sure you check it with a meat thermometer before serving. My thermometer says poultry should read about 170 degrees.)

2. Mashed Potatoes: When your chicken has been in the oven for a bit, go ahead and peel, chop, and boil your potatoes (about two and a half pounds is good for four people). Drain ‘em when they're soft. Add cream and butter (and maybe some roasted garlic). Mash.

3. Green Beans: Snap off the ends and break in half. Boil them. (You can also throw in small slices of bacon ... or some sliced red bell pepper if you'd like more color and a little sweetness.) Drain. Add spices to taste (like tarragon or coriander).

4. Stuffing: I'm a huge fan of Stove Top -- it couldn't be easier. Bring water and butter to a boil and add mix. Let sit for five minutes and then fluff.

5. Gravy: I confess gravy scared me for a long, long time. I'd get to this final step and stare at the giblets and drippings with no idea how to turn them into the mild-colored sauce my mother churned out with ease. But I gave it a go last weekend and am proud to report there's nothing to fear! Once your chicken is done, pour the drippings into a saucepan. (You can throw the giblets in there, too.) Add a can of chicken stock and about a tablespoon of flour. Bring to a boil and let simmer for awhile. Stir occasionally. Drain the giblets and heavy stuff.

6. Carve your chicken and serve it with your sides. (If you're a carving novice, this video is extremely helpful.)

That's it.

If you have the time and the saucepans, I promise it'll be a hit. And if you're so amazed by your own handiwork that you forget to tell family and friends how easy it was and they, in turn, are compelled to help out with the dishes, your secret is safe with me.

Image via www.WorththeWhisk.com/Flickr

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