After discussing expiration dates and food storage in my last article, poultry quickly comes to mind. Indeed, poultry does mandate safe handling and should be cooked quickly after purchase.
One of the easiest ways to cooked chicken is to roast a whole bird. I've roasted quite a few chickens in the past month, because there are good prices lately (under $1 / pound) and my recent enthusiasm regarding a technique published by Thomas Keller in his book Ad Hoc At Home (of which he personally signed for me, thanks TK).
Concepts that make it work (and be easy): Whole chicken is placed over a bed of vegetables. Dot with a good amount of butter before cooking. Start with high heat then lower (which we already know to do from cooking turkeys). Let rest for 20 minutes after cooking. Keller does into more detail in the book, but I'll share below a simplified version of this technique. The main thing is the temperature to use. Vary the vegetable choices as you wish.
Simple Roast Chicken and Vegetables
1 whole frying or roasting chicken, approximately 4 pounds
6 carrots, peeled, cut in half
1 medium onion, sliced
1 pound small potatoes, or larger potatoes cut in thirds
Additional vegetables, if desired:
--- Root Vegetable blend: a few rutabagas, turnips and parsnips
--- Spring Vegetable blend: half a fennel bulb sliced, two handfuls of green beans or asparagus
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
- Truss the chicken with kitchen twine. If you don't know how to do this, simply use a piece of kitchen string to tie the two drumstick/legs to each other tightly.
- Toss vegetables in a foil lined roasting pan or rimmed sheet pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, salt and pepper. somewhat mound the vegetables in the center
- Place chicken atop the vegetables, breast side up. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add 2-3 tablespoons butter on top, near legs and along breast.
- Cook at 475 for 25 minutes, then lower heat to 400 degrees and cook for 45 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer shows 160 degrees near the thigh joint. Remove and let sit for 20 minutes and serve.