This is the best roast chicken I’ve ever made. The three essentials for a good roast chicken recipe include crispy skin and perfectly cooked breasts and thighs. It’s usually difficult to achieve all three at the same time because the thighs usually take longer to cook. Using a cast iron skillet and starting the roasting at a very high temperature help to achieve all three. Cast iron gets very hot and distributes heat evenly so the part of the chicken (the thighs) that is touching the pan cooks more quickly than the part thats not touching the pan directly (the breasts) which is what you want so that they are done cooking at about the same time.
I let the chicken come to room temperature before I seasoned the skin with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and butter. Putting the chicken in the oven when it’s already at room temperature will help it cook more evenly. If you have time, you can also leave it uncovered in the refrigerator for a day which will help dry out the skin and make it even more crispy when you roast it. It’s not necessary for a weeknight dinner situation but it’s something that’s good to remember once Thanksgiving comes around when you’re roasting a turkey.
To make this a one-pot meal, I like to add potatoes, onions, carrots and celery to the pan. They’ll cook in about the same time as the chicken and also absorb the butter, seasoning and chicken juices. Having just one pan to wash doesn’t hurt.
One 3 1/2 to 4 lb. Chicken
1 Head of Garlic, Cut in Half
1 Lemon, Cut in Half
10-12 Small Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 Carrots, Peeled and cut to the size of the potatoes
2 Stalks Celery, Cut to the size of the potatoes
Butter, at room temperature
Salt and Pepper
1. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about an hour.
2. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
3. Remove the innards from the chicken and cut out the wishbone which will make it easier to carve later on.
4. Season the cavity and add garlic, lemon and thyme. Truss the chicken. Season the skin with salt, pepper, paprika and butter.
5. Toss all the vegetables together and lightly season with olive oil, salt and pepper. They will absorb the flavor and seasoning from the chicken too so don’t go crazy in this step.
6. Add the vegetables to the pan and make a nest in the center for the chicken to sit.
7. Put the pan with the vegetables and the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes.
8. Lower the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees and cook for another approximately 30 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 160 degrees at the meatiest part of the bird, where the thigh meet the breast.
9. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving.