This information has been in the wind for the past few years: The best way to roast a chicken is to cook it at high heat, 10 minutes per pound, let it sit for 10 minutes after the roasting. Carve and serve.
The high-heat method of roasting chicken gives you golden skin, moist and tender meat.
Could something this easy be the "best" way to roast the bird?
If I'd listened, roasted and learned instead of continuing to baste, roll the bird over on its breast, brine, truss, stuff -- and anything else one can do to roast a bird, I'd have saved myself some time. As it is, we tried the high-heat method this week and it was a success.
That golden, crackling skin, blistered here and there, the tender, cooked-just-right breast meat ... even the pan juices seemed to be superior in this method, as they sizzled and reduced to a thick, sticky mass in the bottom of the pan, begging to be used for gravy.
I used what was described as an "all natural" chicken, with no antibiotics or hormones added. I seasoned simply with black truffle salt and pepper. I didn't do a full truss on the chicken, but I did tie together the feet. I don't think I'll do that next time. As you can see in the photo, the wing tips got burnt -- no big deal to us.
I've seen this method, along with similar recipes calling for a few more ingredients, such as garlic cloves stuffed under skin, or lemons and onions pushed into the cavity -- so look around the Internet if you want something a little fancier.
Barbara Kafka is often credited with teaching us this method. Chowhound has a recipe and accompanying article that is a little more complex.
However, this is the easiest way I've found to go about making this Sunday dinner classic -- and the results were gratifying.
Link to Barbara Kafka's recipe
High-Heat Roast Chicken
A little vegetable oil
1 4-5 pound roasting chicken
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
A few peeled garlic cloves to tuck here and there, optional
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Rub a little oil at the bottom of the roasting pan. (I sometimes use a roasting rack, but not with this recipe). Let the chicken sit out to bring to room temperature. Put the chicken in the pan. There's no need to truss. (I tied the feet together, but won't even do that next time - I think the leg and thigh skin would get more gold and crackly if just exposed to the heat.)
If using some garlic, you can put a clove or two in the cavity, or tuck some under between the leg and the body of the chicken.
Put the chicken in the 500-degree oven for 10 minutes per pound. (Barbara Kafka's recipe specifies putting the chicken into the oven feet first.) If you don't want burnt wing tips, wrap them in a little aluminum foil.
When the time comes to take it out, set the chicken in a warm place on the stove and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Carve and serve.
Makes 5-6 servings.