The Perfectly Roasted Chicken

by Andie Mitchell on September 21, 2010

One morning, years ago, as I was driving my youngest sister, C, to school, I looked in the rear view mirror and asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She thought it through. I thought too. Mostly about her as a baby, how I loved watching her grow up. Her toddler-age love affair with gnawing on sticks of butter. Girl after my own heart. What does someone who, yesterday, was dressed as a Teletubby, want to do with her life? I lowered the volume on the radio, heaven forbid the Pussycat Dolls influence her career contemplation.

She looked down, examined her blue polish, looked up, and squarely said, “a forensic scientist.”


I don’t know what I was expecting her to say. Probably something more along the lines of what I was dreaming to be: a singer. I had just told her about my future. Touring the world, writing songs, singing my little heart out, making sure that my rider was less obscene than J.Lo’s. I might have even given her the dimensions to my someday mansion.

Maybe I wanted her to watch less CSI and more Dawson’s Creek. Be like Joey Potter. Whatever she did, I just didn’t want her to grow up. I hoped she’d stay young and idealistic forever. Put Now and Then on repeat and Sugar Sugar on an endless loop.

I’ve never wanted to grow up. Not once. Even when being older would have been a one way ticket to paradise, I wanted to stay put. Maybe all kids who grow up fast and are adults before their time idealize the same forever youth. We should all build a commune, live like the Brady’s we wished we were. Dibs on Marsha.

Roasting a whole chicken is a sign that I’ve grown up. Only adults do things like basting, checking temperatures in birds’ unmentionables, and carving. And they practice that awful thing, patience.

It’s actually a perk of being big. All my years of watching Miss J trill about the art of French cooking, and the perfectly prepared chicken, and now I can emulate her. Pearls, curls, and all. Still Punky Brewster on the inside, though.

You grow up being fed and now you become the feeder. It’s beautiful, really. The sense of satisfaction that comes from making others smile, even if only through their bellies. Maybe cooking has become my singing. The chance to express myself and affect others, only in a less obscene and narcissistic way. I should cook in sequins unitards and set up spotlights in my kitchen, paint the walls dayglo at the very least. That way I’ll feel like I thought I would at 25: a superstar singer…with a baster.

Perfectly Roasted Chicken

(inspired by EatLikeMe)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use paper towels to thoroughly dry a 4-5 lb whole chicken. You want it as dry as possible.

Rub olive oil all over the bird, maybe 2-3 tablespoons. Then sprinkle it generously with salt.

Slice one large Vidalia onion into thick rounds and place them in the bottom of a dutch oven or roasting pan. The onions will act as a natural elevator for the chicken, so that it’s not stewing in its own juices.

Place the bird on top of the onion slices.

Set the pan, uncovered, on the lowest rack of your oven and roast for about 1 hour and 45 minutes (for a 4-5lb bird), or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest, meatiest part of the chicken reads 165°F.

I recommend basting the bird halfway with the juices that have collected at the bottom of the pan. This helps ensure that the chicken will be moist.


Let the chicken stand for 20 minutes or so, to rest and retain its juices, then carve and serve.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth September 21, 2010 at 11:17 am

Roasting your own chicken does sound grown up! That bird looks BEAUTIFUL.


bonnielu September 21, 2010 at 11:49 am

Nice to meet you through FoodBuzz and your post! This is hitting home especially as I’m turning the big 4-0 in a couple of months. Haven’t decided what I want to do on my birthday yet. Maybe I’ll roast my first chicken!


Erica September 21, 2010 at 12:27 pm

so I’ve totally never done this. And I really want to try! I have made a turkey breast, but never a whole turkey or chicken. Book mark!


Megan (Braise The Roof) September 21, 2010 at 1:47 pm

I think it’s interesting how so many things that we associate with being “scary grown up things” when we’re younger are actually really not that hard- like roasting a chicken! Yours looks awesome. :)


Cindy September 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Gosh A,
It never occurred to me that you could roast it in a pan. I have done that in a crock pot (OH MY) and in a turkey pan…


I think it’s totally cool your sister wanted to be a forensic scientist!


but I totally hear you! The day my baby brother headed off for Navy boot camp I cried and cried proud Mama tears! (because I was his second MOM)

dibs in Cindy! hehehehehe


Cindy September 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm

in, ON whatever!


Anne Marie@New Weigh of Life September 22, 2010 at 7:55 am

Looks awesome!!


Lisa @ Endeavorous September 22, 2010 at 8:30 am

The first time I roasted a chicken I forgot to take out the little bag of insides. Eek! I love the onion rack idea, you make roasting a chicken look so easy and delicious :)


Leah @ Why Deprive? September 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Wow, I would never be brave enough to roast a chicken myself. You’re right, it does seem like such a grown up thing to do. Im not a fan of growing up – the only thing I really like about it is the 9:30 bedtime. I REALLY like my 9:30 bedtime! :)


Can You Stay for Dinner September 22, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Leah, you are so right! I looove the 9:30pm bedtime.


Katie @ Health for the Whole Self September 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Haha I guess I haven’t grown up yet because I’ve definitely never roasted a chicken like this! But I’d like to give it a shot. I definitely think that cooking has become your singing…perhaps your next post will feature a photo of you cooking in your sequin leotard? :)


Nicole September 22, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Your roasted chicken is beautiful. I imagine that when I attempt such a feat, it will be a scary thing… Lol. So thank you for the tips!


Pretty. Good. Food. September 22, 2010 at 9:13 pm

I’m embarrassed to admit this but I’ve yet to roast a whole chicken. I walk around the market it with it in my cart but the thought of preparing it for some reason freaks me out.
I am determined to try this recipe, it looks so easy, I can do it! :)
Great photos!


M.J. Jacobsen September 22, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Great recipe for the upcoming fall days we will be having soon in Seattle! I love my 9:30 bedtime too, I just forget it sometimes!


MelissaNibbles September 24, 2010 at 9:40 am

My boyfriend wants me to roast a chicken for dinner next week because he thinks it’s a very “Fall meal.” I’m scared, but I think I can do it!


crispandverdant September 26, 2010 at 8:57 am

I’ve made roasted chicken before – but this recipe here looks PERFECT. Bookmarked.


Can You Stay for Dinner September 26, 2010 at 10:04 am

Thank you!!


Mari April 15, 2014 at 11:40 pm

My kids would love this.


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