Perfect Roast Chicken

Everyone can master the perfect roast chicken thanks to this recipe by Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa.

Before I jump into the recipe, I know I am far from alone in my desire to be friends with Ina and be invited to her beautiful Hamptons home and share a meal with her and Jeffrey. I imagine being welcome with fun cocktail or something bubbly, being in awe of the gorgeous flowers in her garden and on the table, and sharing a delicious meal and some laughs. She makes entertaining look effortless and fun and her recipes never disappoint and often wow.

I’ve actually never followed this recipe exactly because fennel isn’t my favorite but the recipe is a great base on which to experiment and is forgiving if you don’t have ingredients like the copious amounts of fresh thyme called for.

I usually use two lemons — one cut in half for the cavity and the other cut in quarters scattered with the carrots. Since I skip the fennel, I use extra carrots and onions. If I don’t have fresh thyme, I will sprinkle the chicken and vegetables with herbs de Provence. Sometimes, like last night when I made this, I take the chicken out of the pan once it is done and put the veggies back in the over for an extra 10 minutes to roast them further.

The jus that forms from the lemon quarters, olive oil and butter, and the chicken juices makes the dish for me.

Perfect Roast Chicken
Ina Garten

  • 1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.
  3. Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

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