I always thought that it must be really difficult to roast a whole chicken. After I read healthy chicken recipes and eventually tried roasting a whole bird myself, I realised that on the contrary of being difficult, roasting chicken must be one of the easiest foods to cook because 1) you just have to throw the bird into the oven, it does not require advance cooking skills like achieving wok hei in a stir fry, 2) simple ingredients of salt, pepper and olive oil will draw out the aroma of the chicken, 3) just throw in some vegetables to roast with the chicken, and you’ll have a complete meal with minimal effort. 4) you don’t really need a recipe as the ingredients are flexible. This is a good meal to impress your folks because it looks more difficult than it actually is to prepare.
This is a truly minimalist easy chicken recipes because with the most basic ingredients of olive oil (or melted butter), salt, pepper, a few herbs of choice, and of course a whole chicken, you can prepare a roast chicken effortlessly. The oven will be doing most of the work for you. And once you get the hang of roasting a chicken the minimalist way, you will hardly need a recipe in future because you will realise that everything just comes together naturally. And from the minimalist roast chicken recipe, you can start to experiment with different flavours for the chicken, such as roast chicken with glutinuous rice stuffing. I love this minimalist style because it retains the original flavours of the chicken. Another great reason for roasting chicken – chicken stock made from roasted chicken bones is much more delicious than chicken stock made with plain bones. So when you have it, don’t waste it! Check out my tutorial for making the best-ever chicken stock from roasted chicken bones and juices.
- 1 whole chicken , neck and feet removed, cavity emptied (I ask the butcher to do it for me)
- 1/4 cup olive oil (you can substitute with melted butter)
- sea salt & freshly cracked pepper
Optional but good to add:
- herbs of choice (I like to add a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary and about 2 bay leafs)
- garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 celery, chopped
- oven-safe roasting tray
- pastry brush
- kitchen twine/string (optional)
Directions for roast chicken:
1. Wash chicken and pat dry. Lay chicken on a oven-safe roasting tray. Stuff cavity with garlic, lemon, celery and assorted herbs, leaving some to scatter around the tray in step 3.
2. Using a pastry brush, glaze chicken with olive oil. Then rub generous amounts of sea salt all over the chicken, and crack generous amounts of black pepper all over the chicken.
3. If you like to truss the chicken (it looks better but it’s optional), tie the two drumsticks together with kitchen twine. If you are using herbs, sprinkle some of them over the chicken.
4. Roast at 220C (430F) for half hour, take out the tray and baste the chicken skin with its juices using a pastry brush. Return the bird to the oven, roast at 200C (390F) for another 20 minutes to 30 minutes till chicken is cooked (basting once more in between). The roasting time will depend on the size of your chicken. You can also roast at 220C all the way but I turn it down to 200C midway because it seems too hot to roast at 220C all the way inside my little oven.
- If your oven is the small or the stand-alone type (versus the built in type), you will probably need to turn the roasting tray to the other side halfway through the roasting time to ensure more even cooking (depending on where the heat coils of the oven are located).
- If you insert a fork in the thigh area and clear juices run out (no blood), that is a good gauge that your chicken is cooked.
Directions for roasting vegetables:
If you like to roast vegetables together with your chicken which you really should, just cut vegetables to chunks (use roast-friendly ‘hard’ vegetables such as potatoes and carrots), coat with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread the vegetables as a thin layer on the roasting tray. Then prop the chicken on top of the vegetables. The good thing about roasting vegetables with your chicken is that the aroma of the vegetables will enhance the taste of the chicken, and vice versa. If you are using “softer” vegetables such as corn, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and zucchini, you can wrap them in aluminium foil so that the vegetables cook slowly – it is kind of like “steaming” your vegetables while the rest of the foods are roasting in the oven (tip I learnt from wandering chopsticks).