Whether it’s a busy weeknight, a friend’s decided to stay for dinner, or you simply don’t want to cook, sometimes you need something easy to throw together. The recipes in our series “Homemade Gourmet” take the thought and time out of cooking without sacrificing their flavor or gourmet appeal. This whole roasted chicken recipe from Christina Lane of Dessert for Two features a sweet honey balsamic glaze that pairs perfectly for the spring with an assortment of seared baby vegetables.
Part of the joy of spring, besides fresh vegetables and lovely weather, is the many reasons to gather and celebrate. There’s Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and many birthdays sprinkled along the way, of course. The change in seasons also allows for outdoor lunches or dinners with friends.
I’m always looking for a meal to share for spring entertaining that’s both easy to pull off and still impressive. A whole roasted chicken is that meal for me. For some added flavor we’re going to brush a whole organic Harry & David chicken with a honey balsamic and rosemary glaze before roasting. We’ll save a few spoonfuls of the glaze to pour over the baby vegetables just before serving.
While tackling a whole bird can feel intimidating, it’s really a simple process.
Step-by-Step for Roasting a Whole Chicken:
1. To defrost your chicken, set it in a dish or shallow bowl (to collect drips) and then place it in the fridge on the lowest shelf possible. Plan on a full two days to defrost. After the first day of defrosting, peel off the packaging from the bird. Remove the giblets (the organs like the heart and liver) from inside the chicken. Give the bird a quick pat dry with paper towels, and then place it on a plate to defrost for another day. This air-dry method for defrosting helps the chicken attain crispy skin in the oven.
2. On roasting day, pull the chicken out of the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperate for 30-45 minutes before roasting. Raw chicken can sit out for a maximum of 2 hours, according to the USDA, so 45 minutes is well within the “safe zone.” Resting at room temperature helps the inside of the chicken be the same temperature as the outer pieces before it hits the oven. This helps reduce oven time and subsequently prevent the meat from drying out.
3. Squeeze an entire lemon all over the skin of the bird, followed by a full tablespoon of salt, and half a tablespoon of pepper. Ensure the salt gets on every surface of the bird, including the inside. Place the squeezed lemons inside the cavity for extra aroma.
4. Rub the chicken generously with olive oil — very generously, and in every nook and cranny. If you get in there and do it well, the skin will crisp up into a potato chip-like texture that you won’t be able to resist. It takes a lot of effort for me to not sneak a bite of the crispy skin before serving.
5. Use a 9”x13” roasting pan or approximate a roasting pan by lining a pan with celery stalks on the bottom. The celery keeps the chicken propped up slightly so heat can circulate around it and crisp the skin.
6. Halfway through roasting, about the 35-40 minute mark, brush over a honey balsamic glaze. Slide the bird back in the oven for another 35 minutes.
7. About 15 minutes before the timer goes off, check on your bird. If the breast appears to be the perfect shade of golden brown for you, use a piece of foil to cover it up lightly. This will allow you to continue to cook the chicken until it’s done, but will prevent any further browning.
8. Test the chicken in the thickest part of each thigh with a meat thermometer before removing it from the oven. The temperature you’re aiming for with poultry is 165° F, however, we’re looking for 160°to remove it from the oven. As the chicken rests on the counter, it will continue to cook and climb up to 165°. To be certain, leave the thermometer in the thigh and watch it climb to 165°.
9. Freshly roasted chicken stays warm for quite a while, but you can cover it with a piece of foil to further extend it while you sear the baby vegetables to serve alongside.
A whole chicken can easily feed a crowd, making it a great dish to serve for a holiday, special occasion, or family dinner. Even if your gathering is on the smaller side, a roasted chicken makes for delicious leftovers. You can also roast up extra vegetables or serve it with a sweet spring salad.
Whole Roasted Chicken with Baby Vegetables
- 1 5- pound whole Harry & David chicken (thawed)
- 1 whole lemon
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
For the honey balsamic glaze:
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
For the baby vegetables:
- 1 pound Harry & David mixed baby vegetables (your choice — I used green beans, baby squash, and radishes)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (divided)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place the chicken on the counter to come to room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425° F and ensure a rack is in the center position. Have ready a roasting pan, or you can approximate a roasting pan by lining a 9”x13” pan with celery stalks on the bottom.
- Rinse and dry the chicken very well. Remove the giblets.
- Place the chicken in the pan, and then squeeze the juice from the lemon all over the skin of the chicken. Place the spent lemon pieces inside the cavity.
- Evenly sprinkle a tablespoon of salt over all sides of the bird, including inside the cavity. Repeat with the pepper.
- Rub the olive oil all over the bird.
- Place the chicken in the oven and set the timer for 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the honey balsamic glaze: whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Pour off 2 tablespoons of the glaze to use for the vegetables.
- After 35 minutes, take the chicken out and brush the glaze on top. Return the chicken to the oven and set the timer again for 35 minutes. About 15 minutes before the timer goes off, check on the chicken. If the skin is golden brown and delicious, go ahead and cover the chicken with foil while it finishes cooking. This way, the meat continues to cook to the right temperature, but the chicken won’t get too dark.
- When the timer goes off, test the chicken with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh (but don’t let it rest on a bone). The temperature you’re looking for is 160° F. Remove the chicken from the oven at this point and place it on a wire rack to cool. The temperature will continue to climb and hit 165° about 5 minutes after its been out of the oven.
- While the chicken rests, make the baby vegetables. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add one teaspoon of salt when it’s boiling.
- Add the vegetables to the boiling water, stir, and let them cook for about 2 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the hot water by pouring them into a strainer.
- Melt the butter in a skillet. When the butter is sizzling, add the vegetables and give them a quick sauté. Stir them often and cook for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Finally, stir in the reserved honey balsamic glaze and cook another minute to reduce.
- Serve the chicken whole with the baby vegetables on the side. Carve it table-side for your guests.