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Roast chicken in the oven is one of those classic dishes that evoke both warmth and comfort, whether for a family dinner, a party with friends, or even a festive meal like Christmas celebrations et the end of year celebrations. However, cooking chicken in the oven can be a real art, as it is essential to achieve crispy skin, tender, juicy flesh, and delicious flavor. In this article, we’ll explore the essential steps to successfully cooking chicken in the oven, breaking down the process so even novice cooks can tackle this iconic recipe with confidence.
The first step to successfully cooking chicken in the oven is to choose the best poultry possible. Preferably opt for a free-range or organic chicken, because these chickens often have better meat quality and a stronger flavor compared to other chickens. Make sure the chicken is completely defrosted if it was frozen, and is at room temperature before cooking. Letting the chicken rest for 30 minutes to an hour before putting it in the oven will allow for more even cooking.
The seasoning of chicken is a key step to give it flavor. Start by seasoning the inside of the chicken cavity with salt and pepper. You can also add garlic, lemon, fresh herbs (like thyme, rosemary or sage) to flavor the interior. This step allows the flavors to penetrate the meat as it cooks.
Here are some types of seasoning you can use to personalize your roast chicken:
- Classic Seasoning: Salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and garlic are traditional choices. They add a grassy, robust flavor to chicken.
- Mediterranean Seasoning: Use olive oil, oregano, basil, lemon, garlic and olives for a Mediterranean flavor.
- Citrus seasoning: Orange, lemon or lime zest will add a touch of acidity and freshness.
- Spicy Seasoning: For a spicy roast chicken, use paprika, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper or Espelette pepper.
- Garlic and Lemon Seasoning: A blend of garlic, lemon, herbs and spices provides a bright, fragrant flavor.
- Herb Butter Seasoning: Mix melted butter with fresh herbs (like parsley, thyme, and rosemary) to create a seasoning sauce that will spread over the chicken.
- Spicy Yogurt Seasoning: Yogurt, mixed with spices like cumin, turmeric, paprika and chili pepper, creates a spicy crust.
- Honey mustard seasoning: The combination of Dijon mustard, honey and herbs gives a sweet and tangy flavor.
- Soy sauce and ginger seasoning: For an Asian flavor, marinate the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, garlic and honey.
- Beer and honey seasoning: A mixture of beer, honey, herbs and spices creates a sweet and aromatic sauce.
To obtain crispy skin, it is essential to prepare it well. Dry the chicken skin thoroughly with paper towels. Then, rub it with melted butter, olive oil or even mayonnaise, it’s a little-known but effective technique. This fatty layer allows the skin to become crispy and golden during cooking. Then season the skin with salt, pepper, and other spices or herbs of your choice to add flavor.
The choice vegetables and seasoning that will accompany the chicken is another important decision. Vegetables like potatoes, carrots, onions and parsnips are perfect to accompany roast chicken. They will cook in the chicken’s juices and absorb its flavors. Season them with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh or dried herbs. Place them in the bottom of the baking dish under the chicken to catch the juices.
When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Resting allows the juices from the meat to distribute evenly, which keeps the flesh juicy and prevents it from becoming dry. Cover the chicken with foil while resting to keep it warm.
Cut the roast chicken with a sharp knife. Serve it with roasted vegetables and your choice of sauces, such as gravy, lemon sauce or herb sauce. Present the chicken nicely on a serving platter and garnish with fresh herbs for a fresh touch.
Here are some types of sauces you can consider to accompany your chicken:
- Sauce with cooking juices: Chicken drippings sauce is a classic option. It is prepared by degreasing the cooking juices from the baking dish, deglazing them with chicken broth, white wine or water, then reducing the sauce until smooth.
- Lemon and garlic sauce: A sauce made from lemon juice, garlic, chicken broth and butter. It brings a tangy and refreshing flavor to the chicken.
- Mushroom sauce : Make a creamy mushroom sauce with cream, sautéed mushrooms, garlic and chicken broth. It is perfect for adding creaminess to the dish.
- White wine sauce: A sauce made from white wine, shallots, chicken broth and cream. It offers a rich, fragrant flavor that pairs well with chicken.
- Honey mustard sauce: A sweet and savory combination with honey, Dijon mustard, garlic and chicken broth.
- Sauce au curry : A mild or spicy curry sauce, with coconut milk, chicken broth and spices, which brings an exotic touch to the dish.
- Sauce chimichurri : A sauce made from parsley, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and spices. It offers a fresh and spicy flavor.
- Tzatziki sauce: A Greek sauce made with yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic and herbs. It brings a fresh and light touch.
- Barbecue sauce : If you prefer a smoky, sweet flavor, barbecue sauce is a great choice to accompany roast chicken.
- Sauce au pesto : A sauce of basil, garlic, parmesan and olive oil, which offers a delicious herbaceous flavor.
Cooking chicken in the oven is a valuable culinary skill that can be mastered with practice and attention to detail. By following these essential steps, you’ll be able to prepare a roast chicken that’s deliciously crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. This classic recipe is perfect for parties and all special occasions, and will delight your family and friends. So, get to your stove and enjoy this traditional dish which combines simplicity and unrivaled flavor.