You can make a career reading about roasting birds. Every food expert has an opinion on how to roast a chicken. And every expert is sure their method is the best. And in the name of getting more people back into the kitchen, I think they scare everyone into the queue at Boston Market. The timid types are absolutely petrified at the thought of having to truss a chicken. They might not be that keen on touching it at all in the first place. And when the timid types read "Season the chicken before putting it into the oven," in your recipe they really don't know that you mean salt, in which case they might not make the chicken at all because their interfering sister-in-law told them to follow the DASH diet. And then there is the whole debate of a hot oven or a "low and slow" one or some magical combination of the two.
Well, friendly readers, I have trussed chickens. I have brined them. I have spatchcocked them. I have de-boned them whole. I have cooked them with seasonings under the skin. I have cooked them with seasonings or stuffing in the cavity. I have roasted them breast side up. I have roasted them breast side down. I have roasted them in pots. I have roasted them on flat sheet pans. I have used racks. I have used a hot oven. I have used a warming oven. And, rest assured, all of those methods produced an above-average chicken dinner.
But just last night, I happened upon the best method yet. And you can do this. Yes, YOU! You, with your Betty Crocker-looking apartment-sized oven that has never been turned on the whole time you've been living here. You, who was raised by vegetarians and have never even watched anyone cook a chicken. You, without kitchen twine or a sharp knife in the drawer. You can do this. But it's best done late at night, the day before you plan on serving it.
Get a whole chicken. Pull it out of the bag and stick your hand in the cavity and discard the baggie of gizzards and assorted nasties. Throw your bird onto something metal. I used a beater of an old baking sheet. You can use a disposable aluminum pan or whatever's clever. Don't season it. Don't truss it. Don't do anything. Throw it into a cold oven because you weren't planning on doing this so you never preheated it. Pick a temperature in the 300's. 325, 350, 375...those are all fine degrees of Fahrenheit and any one will do. Let the bird go for a half hour or forty minutes. Then decide you have something really pressing to do outside of the kitchen, so turn the heat down really low, to 250, and go spend an hour or more on that project. Then come back to the kitchen, remember the chicken and turn it back up to 350 for 20 minutes or so. Then, decide you are sick of this whole chicken-roasting process already, but you'd just like some golden skin, so crank the heat up to 425 or 450 for 10 or 15 minutes. After that amount of time, you won't be able to take the sputtering and spattering and smoke from the chicken fat that has rendered off the bird, so you will be forced to turn the oven off, open a window, and take the bird out of the oven. Promptly get the chicken out of that hot fat and onto a plate or platter (I use big tongs for this). At this point, you will not be impressed with this ugly bird with so-so looking skin. You will think I have misled you. So when the bird is not so steaming hot, curse my name, cover it well, and stick it in the fridge and just don't think about it anymore.
On day two...come home from work with a rotten disposition. Throw the chicken onto a cutting board and take the biggest knife you own and hack it into 4 big parts. Put however many parts you want onto a baking sheet or roasting pan, spritz them with spray oil (i.e. PAM), salt them lightly, and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.
This chicken should be perfectly succulent and falling off the bone. You will have a hard time believing it barely has any salt or any other seasonings because it will be so full of flavor. If you like skin, you will be pleased that the skin on this bird is the perfect combination of crisp, yet tender.
How did I come up with this bad attitude recipe?
Due to some unusual circumstances, I unenthusiastically had to roast a chicken in the deep, dark hours of the night last night. I had already cooked all day and was a little grumpy about making it my night's work, too. So, I did the bare minimum just to try to get the bird finished while I juggled some other evening tasks. And what a surprise that it turned out a sublimely cooked specimen.
Timid types, non-cooks, and lazy folks rejoice! For apparently, total disregard is the secret ingredient in a perfect roast chicken.