Simplest Roast Chicken from Cooking Light’s Real Family Food Cookbook

Can you watch horror movies? I can’t. It’s pretty ironic, actually, because directly behind me sits a bookshelf that is filled from top to bottom with Stephen King’s works. On the DVD stand, however, sit just a few of his movies; The Stand, The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption. The more benign ones that won’t give me nightmares.

Things have always gone bump in the night. I’ve always believed in the monster under the bed . That creature is still lying in wait to grab my ankles as I race up the basement stairs with no backs to them at my parents’ house.

I don’t need any help in working my imagination to a frightened frenzy. So, I stay away from horror movies.

That’s why it irritates me when a non-horror genre is able to niggle some new seed of terror into my brain. It happened last night when I watched episode 5 of season 5′s Doctor Who. It’s about statues. The kind of statues you see in regular life; angels with arms spread at their sides at grave sites or in old churches.

In this reality, they are alive. But, they can only come to life when you’re not looking at them. While you’re gazing at them, they’re truly stone statues. When they’re alive, they’re terrifying, people-eating beasties. You look, they’re twenty feet away. Blink. Ten feet. Blink again. You’re dead.

I watched that episode before going to bed. And then, I couldn’t sleep. You try closing your eyes when you’ve heard, ‘Do not blink. Do not close your eyes for a second,’ over and over again for the past hour.

When you’ve had a night that’s been filled with constantly checking the shadows, keeping arms and legs from hanging over the edge of the bed and listening for the creaking of floorboards, the day needs to be filled with comfort. Hot, cinnamon brown sugar oatmeal is required at breakfast. Soothing grilled cheese and tomato soup is necessary at lunch.

And for dinner, the familiarity and homey pleasure of roast chicken.

The Process

This recipe comes out of Cooking Light’s new Real Family Food cookbook. In fact, the rice under the chicken does too, but that’s a topic for another day. The cookbook itself is packed with a variety of dishes that I know my family would enjoy. Each comes with a photo and a word from the recipe’s creator. For this dish she says:

I recently read about a guy who roasted a chicken in a pan with nothing but salt and pepper. I mean nothing. After all the lemon-stuffing, bacon-wrapping, and herb-buttering I’ve put myself through to create the perfect roast chicken, I had to try it. One word: heaven. Another word; easy.

Easy; yes. This is easy. It really is a matter of sprinkling salt and pepper on the bird, then popping it in the oven.

Except then you need to pull out the pan to make the sauce. That doubles the clean-up. I know it’s just one pan, but a pan is a pan is a pan, especially when the dishwasher fills quickly and you hate washing by hand.

Another unusual instruction was to start roasting the chicken breast-side down and then to flip it after thirty minutes. When I did that, most of the breasts’ skin stayed on the bottom of the pan, which ends up looking very unappealing if you’re serving guests. Ok, it looks unappealing when you’re serving family too, but that’s a bit different, isn’t it.

Since I was able to choose which herbs to use for the sauce, I got a huge smile out of being able to walk out, and pick chives, rosemary and oregano to add to the sauce. You really can use whatever you want so use your imagination or whatever you have on hand.

The Verdict

The chicken is very tasty, as proven by the fact that the family picked the bird clean. Regarding living up to the title, however, I wouldn’t call this the simplest ever. Having to create the sauce takes more time than stuffing quartered lemons, onion and garlic in the cavity.

The sauce is delicious, though. I was a bit surprised at how much butter was used. My regular roasted chicken doesn’t use any since I just do a light cooking spray coating, so for us, the sauce was very rich. Hubby thought it had vinegar in it, which told me that it was a bit tangy for his taste buds.

I am also a fan of the way stuffing a bird infuses it with flavor from the inside. While the sauce coats the outside of the meat, the inside tasted just of chicken.

Final word. Is this tasty? Yes, very much so. Will I make it again? Maybe. Probably.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I most definitely would not start the chicken breast-side-down and then flip it. Having the skin left on the roasting pan and the meat exposed to the hot air dried it out too much. And frankly, it just doesn’t look very attractive. I’d also stuff my bird with onions, lemon, garlic and rosemary (and still call it simple).

Simplest Roast Chicken from Cooking Light’s Real Family Food Cookbook
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 1 4-pound whole chicken
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, tarragon and basil

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Trim excess fat. Tie ends of legs together with twine. Lift wing tips up and over back, tuck under chicken. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and the pepper.
  3. Place chicken, breast side down, in a shallow roasting pan. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes. Turn chicken over. Baste chicken with pan drippings. Bake an additional 20 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of leg registers 165. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 10 minutes. Discard skin. Carve chicken.
  4. Combine butter and lemon juice in a small saucepan; cook over low heat 2 minutes or until butter melts. Remove from heat; stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and herbs. Serve chicken with sauce.

What I’d Do Different Next Time
I most definitely would not start the chicken breast-side-down and then flip it. Having the skin left on the roasting pan and the meat exposed to the hot air dried it out too much. And frankly, it just doesn’t look very attractive. I’d also stuff my bird with onions, lemon, garlic and rosemary (and still call it simple).

 

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