Perfect Roasted Chicken

Perfect Roasted Chicken

1 chicken, 3.5-5#

1 lemon, quartered

1 onion, peeled and quartered

Fresh herbs

Brine to cover (see recipe below)

Olive oil, schmaltz (i.e. rendered chicken fat), bacon fat, etc.

The night before you want to roast your chicken, submerge the bird in the brine and store in your refrigerator or surround container with ice in a cooler. Sometime in the morning drain the bird, place in a non-reactive container with the breast side up and store in your refrigerator uncovered for at least 2 hours. This step allows the skin on the chicken to dry enough that it will crisp up when roasting.

Turn oven to 400 degrees and place a heavy bottomed pan into the oven. This will jump start heating the bottom of the chicken which generally takes longer than the breasts. Meanwhile, stuff the chicken with onions, lemon and herbs. When oven is preheated, place the bird in your roasting pan, on a rack if you have one, although I rarely do. Cook the bird in the oven for 30 minutes then use a paper towel to rub oil into the skin - by this point the skin has dried and heated such that it will accept the oil and brown up nicely. Roast at 400 degrees for an hour for a 4# bird, less if the bird is smaller, longer if it is larger. Use an instant read meat thermometer. You want the internal temperature on the thickest part of the thigh to read 155 degrees. Take the bird out of the oven and let it rest for 15-20 minutes (I usually cook up my greens while the bird hangs out and watches me). Carve the bird up, making sure to squeeze the lemons into the roasting juices and then pouring said unctuous juices over the cut pieces. Enjoy!

A Poultry Brine for all things

A poultry brine can be as fancy as you'd like, but the basic ratio is the following: 

1 cup sea salt

1/2 cup sugar

4 quarts water


I usually boil 2 quarts of water , dissolve the salt and sugar and then add 2 quarts of ice water. This will bring the temperature down quickly so you don't have to sit around waiting for your brine to cool before putting your bird in the water. You want the brine to cool to below 41 degrees prior to placing your cold chicken into it. If your chicken is frozen you can thaw it in a brine, but the brine should still be below 41 degrees. If you would like a more flavorful brine you can use your salty-sugary boiling water to make a tea with anything from lemons and thyme to garlic and celery. 

Brining times vary according to the size of your bird:

up to 2 lbs: 6-12 hours

2-5 lbs: 12-24 hours

5-10 lbs: 24-36 hours

10-20 lbs: up to 48 hours

A few notes, dr. Bronner style:

Never reuse your brine! Always use a non-reactive container! Be sure the bird is fully submerged! Refrigerate your brine! Let your bird air-dry for crispy skin!