Sunday Dinner: A very simple roast chicken recipe for the novice cook.

the ultimate roast chickenchicpangrav


(header images from Food Wishes)


My husband is on ski patrol at a nearby ski area every Sunday, and when he gets home in the early evening he is usually exhausted, cold, and very hungry. I try to have something nutritious prepared for dinner ahead of time so that when he gets home, he can just eat, shower, and fall into bed. Today I’m roasting a whole chicken to go with some leftover baby red-skinned potatoes and salad.

Chef John at Food Wishes is one of my favorite recipe bloggers. His video recipe for The Ultimate Roast Chicken, which I mentioned on my old blog, is so easy and yields a very moist and delicious roast chicken.  When we stopped being vegetarians (and I was a lifelong vegetarian who had never prepared meat dishes before), I used this recipe for the very first whole chicken I ever prepared; watching the video several times beforehand was really helpful to the novice.

I’ve changed Chef John’s recipe a bit to make it even easier and to reflect my family’s tastes, so I’ll tell you what I do and drop in a few pictures with my iPad, but you should watch his video, too.


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 t each of dried thyme, rosemary, and parsley (Chef John uses fresh, and you can too, but I rarely have fresh herbs around in the winter, so I substitute dried)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • zest from 1 fresh lemon (I use a citrus zester, but you can do it with a fine grater, too)
  • 1 t each of kosher salt and black pepper
  • whole chicken (3-4 pounds, but really any size will work fine)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Remove chicken from package, take out anything in the cavity (neck, giblets, etc) and rinse well under cold water. Pat dry with paper towel and set it in the pan. Because I’m making Chef John’s recipe for pan gravy with this, I’m roasting my chicken in a cast iron skillet; when the chicken is done, I can place it on a platter and then make the pan gravy right in the skillet I used to roast it. image
  3. Fold wings under so they don’t burn.
  4. Mash herbs, seasoning, lemon zest, and garlic into the softened butter.
  5. Using your fingers or a thin rubber spatula, loosen the chicken’s skin over the breasts.
  6. Insert 2/3 of the herb butter under the skin (1/3 for each breast) and massage it all around until it coats the whole breast.
  7. Salt and pepper the inside cavity of the chicken, then cut the lemon you zested into quarters and stick the wedges into the cavity.
  8. Tie chicken legs shut with kitchen twine or tuck them together under the bird.
  9. Rub the remaining 1/3 of the herb butter over the outside of the chicken.


    Here’s my bird, ready for the oven.

  10. Roast for about one hour until its internal temperature is about 165 degrees. You can baste it part way through if you want.


Not only is the dish easy, but it’s also fairly inexpensive. I just paid $.99/pound at Meijer for this conventionally-raised chicken (free-range and organic ones cost more but are worth it if you can find them and budget permits).


Speaking of food, here is an update on the New Year’s cooking resolution front:

I’ve got a whiteboard in the kitchen that I’m using to write the upcoming week’s ideas for menu planning on and I’ve got a running shopping list going. For me, I think just having a plan will be more than half the battle when it comes to cooking while working full-time:



The pot roast is for next Sunday and the pasta dishes, tofu, and pork chops are for the weeknights.


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