Roast Chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Four


Appears in

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1969

  • About

The secret of a tender, juicy roast chicken is continuous basting, roasting in a hot oven, and turning the chicken. A chicken just stuck in the oven will make a tasteless dish.


  • A 3-pound chicken
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 small white onions
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • ½ bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme (if fresh thyme is available, add 1 sprig in place of the dried thyme
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • ½ cup water


  1. In order to make this dish the cook needs, among other things, two well-padded pot holders, a large kitchen spoon, a heavy skillet with a handle, and a kitchen timer. The skillet should be large enough to hold the chicken with ample space around it to permit scooping up of the fat for basting.

  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

  3. Sprinkle the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Place 1 onion, the garlic, parsley, bay leaf, and thyme inside the chicken and tie the legs together securely.

  4. Heat the butter in a large ovenproof iron skillet placed on top of the stove. Using tongs or the fingers, turn the chicken quickly in the butter. This is not to cook the chicken but rather to coat it with butter. Place the chicken on its side and scatter the remaining onions around it. Place the chicken in the oven. Start the kitchen timer. Set it to ring in fifteen minutes.

  5. After about 5 minutes, start to baste the chicken with the butter in the skillet. Hold the skillet by the handle and tilt the skillet. While tilting, scoop up the butter with the long-handled spoon and spoon the butter over the chicken. Return the chicken to the oven. Baste the chicken again every 5 minutes or so. When the timer rings, turn the chicken to its other side. Set the timer for 15 minutes.

  6. Continue basting the chicken every 5 minutes or so. When the timer rings, turn the chicken on its back. Set the timer for 15 minutes. Continue basting occasionally. When the timer rings, the chicken should be done. When the chicken is done, it should be golden-brown. Also, if the chicken is lifted up and the juices run out from the inside of the chicken, they should be clear. If the chicken is not done, continue cooking for up to 15 minutes more. The total cooking time is from 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  7. Remove the chicken to a serving dish and discard the string around the legs.

  8. Use the pot holders to take the skillet by the handle. Place skillet on top of the stove and add the water. Bring this to a boil and cook for about 1 minute. Strain the sauce into a sauceboat. Serve the chicken and sauce with rice and a green vegetable.