You’ve heard it before. Roast chicken truly is one of the easiest main courses to cook and the most versatile. You can dress it up or down.
Armed with just the two basic ingredients, chicken and salt, I’ve cooked countless fryer and roaster birds over the years — chicken roasted plainly with just salt tastes fantastic. But for variety, I add herbs and spices.
This spring, my fascination with everything bagel seasoning mix — that sesame seed, onion and garlic blend trend that took off in recent years — inspired a coating for chicken and vegetables. A bit of smoked paprika, dried basil and oregano adds color and flavor.
After the chicken is in the oven, I prepare vegetables to roast alongside. In the accompanying recipe, I add small new potatoes to the chicken pan partway through the cooking. That way they can roll around and absorb the flavorful pan juices.
A sheet pan or two of eggplant, zucchini, peppers and onions makes a great accompaniment to the chicken. I make enough for leftovers for another dinner or to serve with eggs for brunch. Season the vegetables with the same blend of spices as you used for the chicken.
The pan juices from the chicken taste amazing. Spoon the mixture over the carved chicken for a rich, but simple topping. I also like to save them to stir into a bowl of hot, cooked egg noodles (or rice) with shreds of the chicken and a heaping spoonful of the roasted vegetables.
These days, whole chickens can be easier to procure than boneless chicken parts. Adjust the cooking time for the size chicken you can find. A 3-pound bird cooks in 50 to 60 minutes. Larger chickens, closer to 5 pounds, need about 1¼ hours at 400 degrees. When done, the juices should run clear when you pierce the thigh with the tip of a knife.
All in all, the only real trick to roasting chickens? Heat. For golden skin, turn on the convection setting on the oven, if it’s available. Or, fully heat a conventional oven to 400 degrees. Keep the heat high during the complete cook time.