Roasted chicken is one of those quintessential country meals. That makes sense, especially if you’re raising your own meat chickens. It turns out that chickens don’t just come broken down into the various cuts you buy at the store. The breasts, legs, and thighs are all one big piece when you raise them yourself or by them directly from the farmer.
This particular chicken I did not raise myself, but my wonderful friend over at Heart N Soul Farm did. It’s a beautiful, pasture raised chicken full of delicious flavor. Best of all, I know the conditions it lived in, I know what food it was fed, and I know it lived it’s happiest life.
Check her out at Heart N Soul Farm.
You may be wondering, why does it matter if the chicken is pasture raised? The answer to that is the quality of meat, and the quality of life. It is my belief that whenever possible, supporting local farmers who ensure good living conditions for their animals is the ideal way to get your meat. This isn’t always possible for some, but if you can I definitely recommend it. The flavor of the meat is so much better, too.
Factory raised chickens live in terrible conditions. Even the “cage free” chickens aren’t out living the good life on pasture. They’re still packed together in less than ideal living conditions. Because of those cramped, and sometimes inhumane conditions, they have to be given antibiotics and other medications to stay healthy.
Why are antibiotics a bad thing? They can definitely be good, I’ve been thankful for them in my life. But because they are heavily used in factory livestock production, we ingest them even when we don’t need to just by eating the meat of those animals. It takes it’s toll on our own microbiome, and it leads to more antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Back to the chicken at hand…I found this beautiful bird tucked away in my freezer and knew it would be the perfect meal for the cold, wet day it’s been. Cozy and comforting was exactly what I was needing.
For this meal, I decided to butterfly the bird before cooking. I chose to do this because I wanted delicious, crispy skin. If you cook the bird and have it sit in the juices of the pan, the skin around the back gets soggy. Not quite what I had in mind for tonight.
To butterfly a chicken, take a pair of shears and cut down the spine. This opens the bird up and you can lay it down flat in the pan, skin side up. The meat will sit in the juices, making it moist and flavorful, and the skin will crisp right up.
The skin does need to have some fat applied to help it get that crispy texture. I chose to use butter, because butter makes just about everything better. You could also use olive oil or even lard if you wanted to.
Melt the butter and brush it liberally over the entire chicken. If you have any left over, just throw it in the bottom of the pan. It will meld with the juices and make a very flavorful gravy.
The chicken is all buttered up, now it’s time to season it. I like to sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper as my seasoning base, and then I added some paprika and thyme. That gave it some really nice flavors. Lastly, I sprinkled it with a little crushed red pepper because I like just about everything to have a little kick. If that’s not your jam, feel free to leave that out.
The oven should be preheated to 350ºF, 176ºC. Place the chicken in the oven and set the timer for an hour. Every oven runs a little different, so this time may need to be adjusted a little if your oven tends to run hotter or colder. If it runs hotter, start checking after about 45-50 min. Overcooked chicken will dry out and you don’t want that!
The chicken is done when it reaches 165ºF, 74ºC.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the delicious side dishes you’ve chosen to pair it with. Check out my mashed potato recipe, it goes perfectly with roasted chicken.
When the chicken comes out of the oven let it rest for a few minutes. Resting meat is important to allow the juices to settle back into the meat. If you cut into it too soon, they will run out and your meat will be on the dry side.
While the meat is resting, take the juices from the bottom and put them into a sauce pan.
Add 1 tablespoon of flour and mix over medium heat until you for a thick paste. Add 1 cup of chicken broth, salt, and pepper and whisk until it starts to thicken. Turn the heat off, it will thicken more as it sits.
The gravy is ready to go! Pour it over the chicken for an extra oomph of flavor, or use it for those mash potatoes you made and dinner is ready!
Roasted Chicken and Gravy
- 1 whole chicken, butterflied
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- drippings from chicken
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 cup broth
- salt (to taste)
- pepper (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 350ºF, 176ºC.
- Lay chicken down, skin side up, in roasting pan or other pan with sides.
- Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika, thyme and red pepper flakes.
- Put chicken in the oven for one hour.
- Check for doneness and cook longer if needed.
- Pour the drippings from the chicken into a small sauce pan.
- Add flour and heat over medium until a paste forms.
- Add broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Once at a boil, turn off heat, gravy will thicken as it cools.