I was riding in the elevator at work the other day when I was suddenly seized with embarrassment: "I have never roasted a chicken!" Now maybe this is just indicative of my strange combination of uncontrollable and random guilt and my desire for culinary excellence, but no matter. I quickly sent off an email to friends offering the usual exchange of free food for copious amounts of wine and headed off to Bed, Bath and Beyond for supplies. (Anecdote: A friend of mine claims that the aforementioned chain never took off in his native England because a Bed-Bath is something you give to the elderly and infirm--and no one wants to imagine what the "Beyond" might mean in that scenario).
Anyway, I bought a meat thermometer and a baster (both of which I think I had owned previously but were tragically lost during my move...or they belonged to my old roommates...who knows) and a GIANT roasting pan. After lugging the roasting pan (measuring almost the entire length of my leg, and therefore difficult to carry)home I realized it was definitely for a turkey, and that my poor little chicken would be really awkward in it. So I just shoved it back in the box and returned it to the store later on.
Not really finding a suitably basic recipe for roast chicken in any of the usual suspects of magazines and cookbooks, I decided on a recipe that was recently on Amateur Gourmet . I haven't been able to steal the perfectly "seasoned" cast-iron skillet from my parents yet, so I just instead of using one, I just used a glass casserole dish. Otherwise, out of utter lack of confidence with the task at hand, I just stayed pretty close to the recipe.
I stuck some chopped celery, carrots and onions underneath the little guy just to keep him (or her, I guess, I didn't check) from getting too saturated with fat and also basted s/him occasionally. Seriously, this was super easy, and after the suggested 30 minutes the chicken was really at the perfect temp. I couldn't believe it! It also seemed to have cooked pretty evenly from thighs to breasts...something I was nervous about after reading some fear-mongering articles in Cook's Illustrated about unevenly cooked roast chickens.
Anyway, the last hurdle was carving, which also turned out to be completely fine. There's some sort of weird joint in the chicken's...pelvic socket I guess?...where if you hit it just right you can easily separate the thighs from the body, and from there it's smooth sailing as long as your knife is sharp enough.
To complete the meal a friend of mine whipped up some delicious biscuits, and I also sauteed some chard (stems and leaves people!) and made a risotto for my veggie friend who graciously endured the dead bird and also mixed up a pitcher of Tom Collins. Here are the biscuits:
Anyway, I forgot to take pictures while I was cooking...but I'm going to try and be better about that and also use my real camera for optimum quality.
To conclude, roasting a chicken is dead easy, and I completely recommend trying it to everyone...unless you're an utter moron like this guy who somehow blamed the failure of his oven to work properly on poor Amateur Gourmet guy's recipe.