This low and slow cooking technique is an easy, no fail recipe for making a perfect whole roast chicken in the oven, with meltingly tender flavorful meat, golden brown skin, and luscious pan juices.
- 3½–4 pound chicken
- 8 medium garlic cloves, divided
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons of ground fennel seed (even better if you freshly crush 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds with mortar and pestle)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 whole bunch of fresh thyme
- Preheat the oven to 300ºF (not convection) and arrange a rack in the center position. Remove the chicken from the fridge so it has time to come to room temperature before you roast it (see notes below).
- Squeeze 3 of the garlic cloves through a garlic press or finely mince them, and put them into a small mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, fennel, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
- Remove the giblet pouch from the cavity of the chicken (if there is one); rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water and pat it very dry with paper towels, inside and out. Place the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan.
- Coat the chicken with the garlic and spice mixture, spooning it on, under and inside the chicken, and using your hands to spread it around evenly, making sure there's plenty on top of the breasts.
- Lightly crush the remaining 5 garlic cloves (see notes below) and stuff them into the cavity of the chicken. Set aside a few sprigs of fresh thyme to use as a garnish and stuff the rest into the chicken, along with the sliced lemon. Tie the chicken's legs together with twine (see notes below) and roast it in the oven for 3 hours, undisturbed.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let the chicken rest in its juices for fifteen minutes before carving. Cut it into eight serving pieces and then cut each breast crosswise, into 5 or 6 thin slices, if you like. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter or, even easier, serve it right in the roasting pan. Nestle the chicken pieces into the pan juices, scatter the cooked lemons around, and garnish with reserved thyme sprigs.
Three Tips for making the best roast chicken:
- Bring the chicken to room temperature before roasting it. If you put an ice cold chicken in the oven, it will lower the oven temperature; the chicken won't cook evenly; and your timing will be off. Make sure the chicken is out of the fridge for a half hour to 45 minutes, before roasting it.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. The drier the better if you want the skin to brown.
- Truss the Chicken (tie the legs together). When the legs are tied together, they're held tight against the breasts and both the legs and breasts are less likely to dry out. Also, trussing closes up the cavity of the chicken, which prevents hot air from circulating in there and drying out the breasts.
How to lightly crush and peel garlic: Place an unpeeled garlic clove under the flat side of a large kitchen knife and pound the top side of the knife with the heel of your hand (VERY CAREFULLY, AVOIDING THE BLADE), to lightly crush the garlic. The skin will come off easily.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 hours
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Roast
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: How to roast a chicken, oven roasted chicken, roasted whole chicken