There are few dishes as gratifying and comforting as a roasted chicken. The possibilities for leftovers are endless and the chicken cage and bones afterwards can be used to make stock.

Always buy the freshest and best quality chicken you can find -- look for either organic, or all natural without antibiotics. The healthier the chicken, the better the flavor.


How to prep the chicken

Brining the chicken the night before ensures a fool-proof recipe. A brine is a solution of salt water and flavorings like garlic, herbs and spices. Placing the chicken in a brine guarantees plump and juicy chicken every time.  Here's a simple brine recipe for a standard 3 pounds chicken: 

1  gallon warm water

3/4 cup kosher salt

2/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup soy sauce

5 cloves garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

Once the chicken has brined over night, remove and pat completely dry, inside and out. This way, the skin turns crisp and brown when baking. Stuff the cavity with fresh herbs, citrus slices, or garlic and onion. Spreading butter underneath and over the skin makes it even more brown and crisp while keeping the breast extra moist. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before placing into oven.


Roasting the chicken

Preheat oven to 400 F. Remove giblets and liver from cavity and discard (or cook and feed your dog a tasty treat!). Let chicken rest to room temperature.

Place chicken in large ovenproof skillet or large roasting pan. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickets part of thigh reads 165 F. About an 50 minutes to an hour. Transfer chicken to cutting board or platter and let rest for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile you can make a pan sauce. Spoon and discard fat from juices in pan, pour leftover juices in chicken cavity into pan. Heat over medium high and cook until reduced by half. Strain and return to pan. Add 1 tablespoons of butter, swirl until melted and serve alongside chicken.


Cutting the chicken

Place chicken breast side up. Using tip of chef's knife, cut between breast and thigh . Gently pull leg away to expose joint, cut joint to free the entire leg. Cut off wings at joints next.

Slice each breast half from bone, making sure the knife contours along the rib cage. Slice breast crosswise on the bone as pictured or remove the entire breast and then slice on the board. Turn bird over and remove the tender morsels of dark meat by just using your hands -- it should literally melt off the bone.  

Reserve the cage to make stock