You Only Need Three Things To Roast The Perfect Chicken
Lemon, butter, and salt — and the chicken itself, of course.
After months of wondering when I’d feel like cooking again following a year of cooking all the time out of necessity and practicality and as a means of seeking comfort, the temperature dropped 20 degrees and it finally happened: I wanted to cook something bigger than a soft boiled egg again.
I spent the end of last week scrubbing out my dutch oven and reseasoning my cast iron skillet, and then I cleaned my stovetop and the kitchen sink — all valiant efforts to make my apartment feel more homey and less new construction utilitarian, a place where I want to cook and bake. Immediately I put three dozen pumpkin chocolate chip cookies in the oven and then headed upstate (“upstate”) for the weekend to sustain this newly rediscovered momentum.
Upon arriving at our friends’ house I went to the overpriced grocery store in town and bought sustenance for the weekend, including the few elements I needed to make dinner that night: A whole, 4 -pound chicken; some lemons; butter. There was already salt, the final critical component, at the house. With the advice of Helen Rosner, a food writer at the New Yorker, ringing in my ears, I grabbed a head of cabbage from the produce section too.
I make this roast chicken every time we go to our friends’ house. They live in the woods, and whenever we’re there it’s usually quite cold or just getting cold and usually when we get to the house the heat and boiler aren’t already on, so I can’t think of anything better to cook to warm up an entire house in a matter of an hour or two than just putting this in the oven. It’s simultaneously impressive and low-effort — or as low effort as a perfectly cooked roast chicken can possibly be. The first time I made this chicken for these particular friends, who are friends of my boyfriend, was the first time I’d met them earlier this year. I went through the whole roast chicken prep rigamarole and put it in the oven and then became extremely anxious when the kitchen started filling up with smoke. “Does this happen whenever you make this recipe?” one of them asked me. “Ahhhhhhh, no,” I said, trying to casually fan the smoke out the front door and into the woods (it turns out that this is…