Basic Roast Chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

I haven’t talked much about kitchen equipment here, because I don’t want people to think they can’t make a recipe if they don’t have the right pan. Still, having the best tool for the job can make life easier. A roasting pan is a heavyweight metal or Pyrex pan, 2 to 4 inches deep, that should accommodate a rack, which lifts the chicken above the fats and juices and allows the heat to circulate all around it. A V-shaped rack is ideal for roasting chicken (and other meats), because it holds it snugly, eliminating the need for trussing, a procedure called for in classical recipes. Collapsible-adjustable racks handle birds of varying sizes and are easier to store. If you don’t have a good pan and a rack and you want to roast a chicken, do it anyway—to heck with the equipment.


  • 1 4- to 5-poundroasting chicken
  • 1 medium lemon, quartered
  • 4 whole unpeeled garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 to 3 whole sprigs of fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, or sage
  • 3 tablespoonsextra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cupwhite wine
  • ½ cuphomemade chicken or vegetable stock or your favorite canned broth
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoonschopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, chervil, and basil


Preheat the oven to 450°F. Remove the giblets and neck from the chicken and save for another use or discard. Rinse the chicken well under cold running water, pull off and discard any excess lumps of fat, and pat dry. Place the lemon, garlic, and herb sprigs in the cavity. Massage the olive oil into the skin and season generously with salt and pepper.

Set a V-shaped rack in the roasting pan, and place the chicken on it breast side up. Roast for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the thigh meat is no longer pink (165° to 170°F. on an instant-read thermometer). Using a bulb baster, pastry or barbecue brush, or—yes—a spoon, occasionally baste the chicken with its drippings as it roasts (every 10 minutes or so).

When the chicken is done, remove it from the rack, set it aside, and keep it warm. Add the wine and stock to the roasting pan and on the stovetop bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil until the liquid is lightly thickened and reduced by about a third. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and drops of lemon juice. Pour the sauce into a small warm pitcher and skim off the fat that rises to the top. Stir in the chopped herbs. Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce to spoon over it.