Roasting a Chicken – Preparation and Cooking Times

Before you start roasting a chicken, make sure you spend time selecting the best chicken to fit your needs.

If you’re looking for flavor, the best chickens are called heritage chickens or sometimes dark Cornish chickens. These chickens are genetically pure, meaning that they haven’t been genetically tampered with like industrial chickens.

Buy the Best … Like the President!

These birds are fed a natural diet and left to free-range. They mature in 15 weeks, not 5 weeks like the grocery store Barbie-doll big-breasted chickens. The difference in meat is incredible. Heritage chickens have dark and very firm meat that stays tasty even after several days in the refrigerator. In fact, you don’t need a knife to cut it. Like other heritage meats, chefs prefer them for their flavor. One place to find them is

Heritage meats were used at the Inauguration dinner meals for President Barack Obama.

Roasting a heritage chicken is your best bet for flavor and for health. But if heritage chickens aren’t in your budget, you can still fix a tasty bird. Use an organic, free-range chicken. Chicken can be labeled “broiler”, “fryer”, or “roaster”. Get the roaster since it has more muscle and a good layer of fat that adds to the flavor.

Seasoning the Chicken for Roasting

Next, it’s time to season the chicken. Mix butter with herbs such as rosemary, basil, oregano, parsley, garlic, garlic salt, or simple poultry seasoning. If allergic to milk products, substitute olive oil for the butter. Then rub the herbs into the skin and into the cavity as well. Of course you have already washed the chicken and blotted it dry before you add the seasoning.

Let the Actual Roasting Begin

Roasting a chicken starts when you place the chicken in the oven. Put the seasoned chicken on top a rack in a roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken without touching the bone. To keep the chicken meat from shriveling in high heat, roast the chicken at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 375 degrees. The meat thermometer will read 170 degrees when the chicken is fully roasted. Total cooking time is about 30 minutes per pound of chicken. After cooking, pull the bird out of the oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Then slice and serve.

Don’t Forget the Accompaniments

Roasted chicken is a great main entrée, and you’ll need vegetables to go along with it for a complete healthy meal. Here are some different options:

  • boiled red potatoes, fresh asparagus spears, carrots
  • steamed brown rice, broccoli spears, spinach salad
  • rice pilaf, green beans with almonds, and red/green/yellow pepper strips

And don’t forget dessert! Apple pie and cherry pie, with or without ice cream are all-time American favorites, but a slice of creamy cheesecake or bowl of fresh fruit is always welcome as well.

Roasting a chicken is actually brings back fun and creativity into the kitchen.



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