Roast chicken has always been one of my favorite comfort foods. Add a side of mashed potatoes, a simple salad, and a bottle of red wine, and I’m yours forever. In addition to being delicious, roast chicken is also a cinch to make; it takes about five minutes to prepare and then you can kick back and let your oven do the rest of the work. It’s the perfect compliment to a cozy Friday night, and the leftovers will keep you happy for days to come.
I’ve been perfecting my roast chicken recipe for years. I have to admit I’ve made a lot of bad roast chickens. While my heart has always been in the right place, my execution left much to be desired. Thankfully, my loved ones always lied right to my face while attempting to chew bone dry chicken before washing it down with
copious amounts of wine. The silver lining here is that I’ve embodied sage advice from the one and only Julie Child, who said, “No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize. People will think, ‘Yes, it’s really not so good.’ The cook must simply grin and bear it.”
This recipe represents practice in action. Patanjali explains in sutra 1.14 that practice (abhyasa) requires patience, devotion and faith. Patience, because we must commit ourselves for an indefinite period of time; devotion, because we must be consistent in our efforts; and faith, because the journey can be discouraging—we must believe in what we’re doing if we hope to see it through. No matter how many times I failed at roast chicken, I somehow managed to summon the nerve to try again. Little by little, the recipe evolved into what it is today.
Easy Roast Chicken
1 whole chicken, approximately 4 to 5 pounds – try to buy organic, pasture-raised chicken from a local/responsible source
1 head of garlic
1 T olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Rinse the chicken well and pat dry with paper towels. I can’t tell you how important it is to make sure it’s dry—if you want any protein to brown, it must first be very dry.
Cut both the lemon and the whole head of garlic in half (don’t even bother peeling the garlic). Sprinkle the 1/2 teaspoon of salt all over the bird (yes sure to put a little inside the cavity). Stuff the lemon and garlic halves inside the cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen string, which pulls the bird in close to itself and promotes even cooking time. (Note: If you don’t have kitchen string, my guess is that the chicken would still turn out great.) Use your hands to rub the olive oil all over the skin. Sprinkle the thyme and fresh ground pepper over the bird.
Place the chicken in an oven-proof baking dish. Put it in the oven and then turn down the temperature to 400 degrees. Cook for an hour and 20 minutes.
Take the chicken out of the oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let the chicken rest for 10 to 15 minutes so that the juices reincorporate back into the bird. Do NOT carve it right away; if you do, the juices will run out and you will most certainly have a dry chicken and a heavy heart.
Success is the result of failure. Embracing your botched attempts in the kitchen is the key to staying the course. Live your yoga by practicing with patience, devotion and faith. And for the love of God, never apologize.