Don’t be intimidated by the many roast chicken recipes and tips. Use this template for a satisfyingly simple one-pan meal of a whole chicken with vegetables.
Once I learned to cook, it took a surprisingly long while before I tackled a roast chicken. Why? Because I was intimidated. I was worried I wouldn’t cook it all the way through, or the breasts would be dry, or it would taste bland. The reality is, though, this dinner staple has remained just that — a staple — for so long because it is not only economical but also quite easy.
This chicken recipe is a pared down adaptation of Thomas Keller’s version in Ad Hoc at Home, which saves time by using a high cooking temperature and simultaneously roasting the vegetables beneath the bird. Cooking root veggies this way not only cuts down on prep and cleaning time but also results in superior flavor, since they soak up and caramelize in the pan drippings.
When I’m pressed for time, I do little more than throw salt on a whole chicken and toss it into a really hot oven. That’s basically the process in the recipe below, with a few minutes’ added prep to create a beautiful, satisfying meal that can be made on a weeknight but is also worthy of company.
One-pan roast chicken with root vegetables
Most weeknights I don’t bother with trussing the chicken, which enables even cooking and beautiful presentation. I’ve found that as long as I purchase quality chickens, a little extra cook time doesn’t dry out the breasts.
Use this recipe as a template and don’t feel the need to follow the ingredient list exactly. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand, keeping in mind that tender vegetables like zucchini and summer squash will cook more quickly and therefore can be added to the pan in larger chunks. Thick slices of onion are also welcome no matter what other vegetables you’re including.
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-size pieces
- 3 golden beets, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 (3-1/2 to 4-1/2 pound) whole chicken
- 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
- Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Butcher’s twine (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. In a medium skillet (just large enough to fit the chicken), toss the carrots, potatoes, beets, thyme and a pinch each of salt and pepper with the olive oil.
- Rub the chicken with the softened butter and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Optional: Truss the chicken (see headnotes). Place the chicken in the skillet, atop the vegetables.
- Roast the chicken and vegetables until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F, about 1 hour. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving. If any of the vegetables are too firm, place the skillet over medium heat and cook until fork tender.