A simple roast chicken is one of the best recipes you can have in your cooking repertoire. This chicken has minimal ingredients and turns out perfect and crispy each time. A hot oven and heavy skillet are essential for consistent results. I use a dial oven thermometer to make sure my oven is at the correct temperature. Cast iron skillets, my skillet of choice, are versatile, sturdy and also very inexpensive. Don’t forget about the yummy skin on the back of the chicken!
Vinaigrette Potato Salad
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes while the oven preheats to 425 F. Once preheated, place a 12-inch cast iron skillet in the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove the giblets (heart, liver gizzard, neck of the bird) and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. A dry bird makes for a nice, crispy bird! Season the inside of the cavity generously with salt and pepper and stuff it with two lemon halves. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine (as if the bird is crossing its ankles) and tuck the wings under the back. Rub the remaining lemon halves and the outside of the entire chicken, especially the back, with the olive oil. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper.
When the skillet is hot, place the chicken in the skillet, breast side up. Add the remaining lemon halves to the skillet, cut side up. Roast the chicken until an instant-read thermometer reads 155 F when placed in the thigh, 55 to 70 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and place the chicken on a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes. Save those juices and lemons!
While the chicken cooks, start your potatoes. Place potatoes in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until they are nice and tender when poked with a paring knife, about 17-22 minutes.
Taste the potatoes. If they need more flavor add the remaining vinaigrette to the bowl and/or season with salt. Carve the chicken using a very sharp knife (see Carving by Numbers, below). Serve the chicken with the pan juices, roasted lemons, the potato salad and a side of pea shoots. The pea shoots are delicious plain, with a squeeze of the roasted lemon or tossed with the potatoes and vinaigrette.
Carving by Numbers
4 pieces – 2 legs, 2 breasts
8 pieces – 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 4 breast halves
10 pieces – 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 4 breast halves, 2 whole wings