Perfect Roast Chicken with Caramelized Carrots
People often ask me if I have a favorite dish to cook. This is certainly a top-5 contender.
The secret, I’ve found, is the high heat (425 degrees) and the timing. If you calculate accurately—15 minutes per pound plus 15 minutes, exactly—you’ll be rewarded with a moist but cooked-through chicken with nice crisp skin. I’ve roasted a lot of chickens over the years, and this is the only method that works every single time.
A few more notes: The caramelized carrots are a delicious addition, but if you don’t have carrots, use a small metal roasting rack to lift the chicken off the pan a bit; or if you have neither, skip it. It’ll still cook just fine.
If you also want baked potatoes (and who wouldn’t?), put them in the oven at the same time as the chicken. The high temperature isn’t optimal for baked potatoes—the skins get a bit tough—but it’ll work. Or try cubed potatoes: Place in a separate pan coated with cooking spray or olive oil, toss with more olive oil and salt, and roast at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes, tossing once about halfway through the cooking time.
You don’t need to rinse and pat dry the chicken (in fact it’s safer not to), but I am obsessive about washing my hands every single time after touching the raw chicken and before handling anything else (e.g., a salt shaker).
Roasting a chicken at high heat like this will cause some splattering and smoking in your oven, but trust me, it’s worth it. You should plan to clean your oven once a year anyway.
2 handfuls (or as many as you want) mini carrots, or whole carrots peeled and cut into chunks
1 (3.5- to 5-pound) whole roasting chicken (I use Coleman Organic), giblets removed from cavity if necessary
Optional: 1-2 onion wedges, 1-2 lemon wedges, leftover fresh herb sprigs (like thyme, oregano, or rosemary), a few peeled garlic cloves, etc.
Olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper (I often use herbal, organic Celtic Sea Salt)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Place carrots in a 9×13-inch pan. (I love my cast-iron LeCreuset roasting pan!)
3. Cut any excessive fat globs off chicken, such as around the neck and cavity openings. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside cavity; if you like, add a couple of onion wedges or other additions into the cavity (don’t pack tightly; leave some room). Cross chicken legs and secure with a silicone band or twine.
4. Place chicken on top of carrots. Drizzle chicken with olive oil; rub with hands to coat chicken. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper (regular or herbal).
5. Here’s where the magic happens. Roast chicken at 425 degrees for 15 minutes per pound, plus 15 minutes. So, for example, a 4-pound chicken would roast for 1 hour, 15 minutes. A 3.5-pound chicken would roast for 1 hour, 7 1/2 minutes.
This is how perfect it looks when you take it out of the oven:
6. Now, although you want to dig in right away, let it rest for 10 minutes before carving. This allows the hot juices to redistribute in the meat.
To carve, first cut off wings and legs/thighs at the joint; then slice the breast meat vertically, starting near the backbone.
Serve with caramelized onions. Yum.