One of my favorite things to make for dinner is a roast chicken. Every time I roast a chicken I sort of marvel at how delicious and incredible a perfectly roasted chicken is. The meat is tender, juicy, and shreddable, and I've finally mastered the key to super crispy skin (making sure the skin is really dry before rubbing in a good amount of melted butter). A roasted chicken looks beautiful on the table and it smells rich and heavenly as it spends an hour or so in the oven.
And it's so easy. I used to be intimidated by whole chickens but I can see now how misguided that fear was. All I have to do is clean the chicken, season it (butter, sea salt, and pepper), and then stick a few lemon wedges inside. Sometimes I'll roast the chicken on a bed of thinly sliced onions tossed in olive oil but that's about as complicated as it gets. The oven does all the work. It feels like magic.
I've learned that a roast chicken is perfect for a teaching night. One of my students comes at 5:30 so what I'll do is put the chicken in the oven about 15 minutes before he arrives and at 6:30, when the lesson is over, the chicken will be perfectly cooked. I'll let it rest for 10 minutes while I roast some kale or make a salad or slice bread and voilá--dinner is ready.
There's another reason for my deep love for roast chicken. I'm very thrifty in the kitchen and I've found that I can easily get 5 or 6 meals for the two of us from a single chicken. Amazing! The first night we eat the chicken right out of the oven. The next night, I'll often make a chicken fricassee with lots of vegetables and the juice that I saved from the night before and serve it over egg noodles. I save the carcass and make chicken stock by simmering it with onions, lots of celery, and a bay leaf in a dutch oven filled to the top with water. This can be turned into a mouth-watering soup by throwing in some leftover chicken, white beans, baby kale, shredded carrots, or really, whatever is in the fridge and sounds yummy. And sometimes, even after adding chicken to the soup, I'll still have leftovers for chicken sandwiches or my favorite chicken curry salad.
Also? Roast chicken just feels grown-up. There's something about it. When I roast a chicken I feel settled and happy and I feel like I'm taking good care of myself and my husband and putting something really lovely on our table. I'm just remembering this post my friend Tina wrote a few months ago about roast chickens and finding what you love to do and how they're linked, somehow. Roast chickens are beautiful and tasty and sophisticated and wholesome and they're nourishing in more ways than one, I think.