A few Sundays ago, I set out to roast a chicken. Because roast chicken is something I prepare only occasionally, I was a little foggy on the specifics (i.e.; how long to cook and at what temperature) so I consulted some of my cookbooks. Much to my
surprise, all the recipes I looked at seemed a little fussy. They all involved roasting it at a very high temperature for awhile, then turning the oven temp down to finish it off at a lower temp. All the while constantly peeking at it, basting it, turning it halfway through, monitoring it to see if it was getting too brown then if it was, covering it with foil, etc. In other words, you had to do everything but the hokey pokey to get the thing cooked.
Since I was feeling decidedly unfussy that day, I pulled out an old friend, Better Homes and Gardens’ New Cookbook , you know, the red and white checked 5 ring binder cookbook. Then lo and behold, there it was – a recipe for “simple” roast chicken that truly was simple.
If you’re not familiar with this old chesnut, you should be. The trusted “Red Plaids” , published since 1930, are some of the true classics of American home cooking. My mother used her mother’s until it literally fell apart and she had to buy a replacement. I am now using the replacement. It doesn’t have a date on it that I can see, but by the looks of people’s hairstyles and the presence of recipes for pasta primavera and pasta salad, it must have come out in the late 70’s or early 80’s.
The fledgling (or forgetful) cook will find everything needed to confidently accomplish any task from hard-boiling an egg to properly setting the table for a family meal or a buffet-style party. Useful features for all levels of cook are scattered throughout the text. For example, the book is filled with illustrated charts explaining how to tell when foods are properly cooked. And there is an entire chapter called “Special Helps” that covers everything from stocking your kitchen to the proper way to section a grapefruit.
One of my favorite things about this cookbook, however, is the binder format. This makes it possible to lay the book flat on the counter or prop it up nearby with, or without, a cookbook stand. It also makes it easier to add your own notes right alongside your favorite recipes.
Anyway, back to the chicken – here’s that truly simple fuss free recipe for roast chicken. I added my own little twists to it but it’s still only a few ingredients and a few steps. It will come out beautifully – juicy, with crisp bronze skin. Pair it with one of our fuss free everyday reds ; we’ll even deliver! Now, how fuss free is that 😉
Simplest Roast Chicken
1 3# broiler chicken
3 TBSP butter, melted
Rinse chicken, remove innards, pat dry. Place, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan (note: you could also make a bed of chunked root vegetables for the chicken to sit on). Cut the lemons in half and squeeze a few tablespoons of juice in with the melted butter. Stuff chicken cavity with cut lemons, then brush the outside of the chicken with butter mixture. Salt and pepper liberally. Roast, uncovered, in a 375 degree oven for 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours until done. If you don’t have anything better to do, you could baste it occasionally, but I did not find this to be necessary.