I haven’t touched on cooking game in a long long time, so here’s a drop dead easy old standby. A roast chicken is fairly cheap meat, but smells great cooking and acts as a great center piece item for any meal. Just roast a chicken and you can do almost anything else and it just works. Roast chicken + bread and salad. Roast chicken + mashed potatoes and veggies. Roast chicken + rice and pineapple. Roast chicken + pasta and sauteed mushrooms.
The great thing about roasting a chicken is that if you are very low skill in the kitchen, almost all the effort comes at the beginning of the cooking process. So if you’re struggling with that thing of learning to cook and juggling three or four different things to be finished cooking at the same time, a roast chicken isn’t something you have to worry about. In fact once it’s done cooking you can just take it out of the oven and cover it with tin foil and let it rest for 10 minutes and no harm done. In fact you should do that and announce “I’m just letting it rest a bit” like you know what you’re doing. She won’t know that the real reason that you’re behind schedule is because you forgot to turn the element on to boil the water for the mashed potatoes.
In fact if you’re really worried about timing, go the bread and salad route. All you need is interesting bread by which I mean anything other than something presliced. If it comes in a plastic bag that’s a bad sign, look for something that comes in a paper bag at the grocery store. So I figure no one can mess up a loaf of bread and some butter, so that’s done. You’ve got a couple hours to make a salad and cover it and toss it in the fridge, so that’s done. Once the chicken is finished all that you have to do is chop it up to serve and your entire meal is done. Add a bottle of wine and it’s a smooth move with no panic to bring it all together at the end. You can be making out with your target on the couch right up until the timer goes off on the oven. If you were fingering her make sure you wash your hands before handling the food again.
So anyway… the chicken…
Basically you buy whichever whole chicken is cheapest. There’s probably only three major chicken suppliers and each grocery store usually rotates which ever one is on sale every week. So there’s not really much difference between between them. Chicken A is $0.99 a lb and Chicken B is $1.69 lb. Next week the prices will be reversed, so buy the cheap one. Just the two of you and you can aim for a 5 lb one, bunch of kids and you can look more at the 7lb end of things. Anyway – buy a FRESH chicken not a frozen one. That does make a difference.
Turn the oven on to 375 F.
Take the chicken out of the bag and rinse it off. Importantly reach inside the chicken and grab whatever the hell that disgusting bag of chicken organs is inside it and throw it away. I have no idea why they do that, I think it’s just a running gag they do. Just don’t cook the chicken with it inside it unless you like that melted plastic flavor. Mmmmmmmmm, plasticy.
Next you’re going to slice up some oranges and stuff them inside the chicken. One is good for the 5lb chicken, two if you’re up around the 6-7 lb chicken. I do thin sort of circles because they seem to scrunch in there easily. The final circle of orange you’re going to place like it is acting like a seal between the inside and outside of the chicken. Juices trapped inside the chicken being the idea. You’re not actually going to eat the orange as part of the meal, it’s just the best thing for the “keeping it juicy” job. In place of oranges, lemons are fine as well.
Then give a good sprinkle of Kosher Salt over the chicken. Don’t over think it, just a good sprinkle. Regular table salt is fine if that’s all you’ve got. Then the same treatment with the Mrs Dash Garlic and Herb or whatever your favorite spice mix is. I’ve been to the Outback Steakhouse and the waitresses always cannot shut up about “the special blend of eighteen herbs and spices” the chef uses on the steaks. That’s two less than Mrs Dash Garlic and Herb, so fuck you Outback Steakhouse.
Your prepped chicken should therefore look like this…
And you can’t see the orange because I folded the skin flaps over the orange to further seal it in.
You cook at 375 F. The time you cook is 20 minutes per pound. So two hours for a 6 lb bird. I tend to cap the cook time as no shorter than 1:40 for anything less than 5 lbs, and don’t go longer than 2:20 for anything over 7 pounds.
Most importantly once it is in the oven, THE OVEN STAYS SHUT. Don’t “just check on it”. Don’t try and mess with roasting potatoes in all the chicken fat. Don’t peek at it. Don’t wonder if it’s lonely. Every time you open the oven door you both let out heat and moisture from the oven. Result… chicken dries out and takes a little longer to cook. Seriously, don’t open the damn oven door. The chicken will be fine. Set it and forget it.
That’s a better view of the orange… well I guess it’s technically an “ass seal” for the chicken.
You can cover it with tin foil and have it just rest for a 5-15 minutes quite safely and easily. That tends to allow the chicken to reabsorb some more of the fat in the pan. Oh and to get the chicken out of the pan on to a cutting board, I just stab a big knife right into the orange up inside the chicken, wiggle the chicken loose of the bottom of the pan and lift it off. If you try and use tongs to get the chicken off the pan you just end up tearing bits of it off as it’s usually falling apart anyway.
People rightly point out that the salt and spices are on the outside of the chicken and thereby don’t actually overly change the flavor of the chicken. Yes and no. The chicken isn’t overly salty/spiced in flavor, but the smell of it cooking is insanely good. When you’re eating it you still experience the smell and that changes the perception of you eating it. Smell and taste are closely linked to one another.
Slice and dice baby, we’re done. All you have to do now is fight over who gets the wings.