I came into my own as a cook by roasting chickens. Roasting a whole chicken just seemed so daunting. Different pieces were supposed to be different temperatures. You needed to brine it. You needed to stuff it with something. Had to cut veggies to put under it. Do you place it directly on top of the veggies or on a rack? Do you do it in a Dutch oven or a cast-iron skillet? SO MANY OPTIONS. So I turned to @inagarten, patron saint of chicken roasting. Her recipe is perfect. No fuss, no muss, delicious every single time. I made it over and over, week after week, making slight tweaks every time. Soon I didn't need the recipe as a guide, I just knew: 450-500 degrees for about an hour; temp in thickest part of the thigh should register 160-165; juices should run clear. It was simple, and hard to screw up. I'd never made chicken so good so consistently. I changed it more and more and eventually I wasn't even in the realm of her recipe, but the method remained. As I became comfortable with creating recipes and playing around with things more, I learned to spatchcock. I used the techniques I learned with chicken and applied them to turkey and cornish hens. I became confident enough to tackle duck. Roasting chickens made me more confident as a cook. It was “my thing.” If you can roast a chicken, I think you can do pretty much anything in the kitchen, and it’s one of those things you should know how to make anyway. A classic. Good for fancy dinners and date nights; Sunday supper and a gathering of friends. The leftovers can be used for days and the carcass can be used for stock. A chicken is a cook's best friend, truly.
The recipe I return to most is simple and Persian-inspired: Lots of lemon, some garlic, lots of sumac. You can do whatever you want, but this is my go-to bas. The recipe I'm sharing is similar, but punched up. Don't feel obligated to use my ingredients. Use what you like and have on hand. Or just use salt, pepper, and butter. YOU. DO. YOU. And roast a chicken every week. You won't regret it.