FOOD: Recipe #1 - Simple Roast Chicken

(Note: SKGR is starting up today with a new concept called FOOD. From recipe, to market, to kitchen, to table, she's going to be providing tips and resources to keep the home fires burning and good food on your table. As with every post, comments and additions are welcome and add to the stew.)

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One of the pleasures of knowing a little bit about cooking is that friends often call me for help in the kitchen. One of the most common inquiries I get is "how do I make a simple ______?" (Fill in the blank with things like tomato sauce, apple pie, risotto, salad dressing, roast chicken.)

Knowing how to prepare a basic recipe like a roast chicken is infinitely useful. Once you master the technique, you can begin to add your own flourishes. This is the best way to learn how to cook.

Although I have done some professional training, I can say I've learned the most from experimenting on my own.

This week, in honor of the damp spring weather, let’s try a basic roast chicken recipe.

Get inside, bundle up with your honey or a friend, and start with this simple recipe. If you've done it before, begin to experiment with herbs tucked under the skin, stuffing the cavity, or different marinating and brining techniques.

For the rest of you, start simple. Some of the finest cooking is done with few ingredients. Let the quality of the food speak for itself.

A word about meat: consider buying an organic, small-farm raised chicken. These days it is easy to find meat that is raised by caring farmers instead of the industrial, commercial meat found in most grocery stores. In New York City try Fairway, Citarella, LifeThyme, the larger farmers markets (Union Square, Grand Army Plaza), and many local butchers.

I hope you enjoy this chicken. If you'd like to share your own tips, flourishes, questions, or requests for other recipes and techniques use the comments section. skgr

Simple Roast Chicken

1 whole organic roasting chicken, 3- 4 lbs.
1 yellow onion, sliced cross-wise, 1/2" thick
salt and pepper

  • Position rack in bottom third of oven and pre-heat to 425.
  • Clean chicken and pat dry, inside and out. A wet chicken will cause it to steam instead of roast.
  • Season with plenty of salt and pepper.
  • Cover and place in refrigerator, up to 24 hours ahead of time. The extended refrigeration is an optional step. You can also move directly to the roasting.

  • Place onion slices on bottom of roasting pan and place chicken on top of onions, breast side down.
  • Fold wing tips under and tie legs together loosely with kitchen twine (or unwaxed white dental floss).
  • Roast in oven for 20 minutes.
  • Flip by putting a long fork in the cavity and gently turning the bird so as not to tear the skin.
  • Continue to roast until knife inserted in thickest part of thigh produces clear juices, or thermometer registers 180? - about an hour, depending on size of bird.

    Serves 4 for dinner, 2 for dinner, and lunch the next day, or 1 for dinner and several lunches this week.

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    Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.