There is nothing better than a perfectly cooked Simple Roast Chicken. The scents emanating from the oven as it bakes fills the house with mouthwatering aromas that brings everyone eagerly to the table with smiles on their faces! And no one roasted a more perfect bird than my grandmother, Anna Lee Evans, aka Mimi.
Today I am sharing a tribute to the woman who gave me my passion for food and cooking, setting me on the path of my life. A little later I will share a favorite recipe for the easiest simple roast chicken, a dish that helped the Artist fall in love with me!
Mimi cherished her family, enjoyed teaching children and played the organ for her church every Sunday. She also loved to cook and bake and was one of the few truly instinctive cooks I’ve ever met, renown in her small town. She never took a cooking class or attended culinary school, and would have scoffed at the idea of having to go to school to learn what came so naturally to her.
I inherited her recipe box and I treasure it. Each recipe carefully written on a 3×5 card gently yellowed with age. Pull out any card and you’ve got a piece of history, memories of family gatherings, and loved ones now gone. Through her recipes I learned which were her favorites, the recipes she would make for specific birthdays, and who her friends were.
There was one special dish that each woman in town would make for all the community dinners. They were known for it and basked in the compliments they got every time someone enjoyed it. I’m not sure which one Mimi was known for, but no matter what she brought, I know it was one of the first dishes finished, leaving those at the end of the line wistful.
My grandparents lived in rural Indiana in the same small town my parents grew up in – where they met, fell in love, and married. Most of the rest of the family was within hollerin’ distance but my father had become smitten with the weather in California when he was stationed to the West Coast with the Navy. As soon as he could, he moved the family out to California and it was where I was born. Consequently our visits with our grandparents happened once a year, either during summer or over the holidays, and are treasured memories.
Mimi had many grandchildren, but I was the one that really wanted to cook with her. From the minute she would arrive I was glued to her side whenever she was in the kitchen. With an attention level I never exhibited in any other aspect of my life, I watched and learned. She was a natural teacher and I followed every move she made. Everything she made was simple fare, but tasted so much better than anything I had eaten because it was made from scratch and always with a heavy dose of love thrown in.
Unfortunately, Mimi passed away when I was only ten. I’m sure I would have become a much better cook if I had more time to learn from her, but she had already shared her love of cooking, nurturing her family through her homemade meals. The spark had been lit in me and still shines brightly today.
Today I am sharing recipe for the kind of dinner that Mimi used to make for our family, a simple roast chicken. To go alongside, she would cook whatever fresh vegetables were in season and make plenty of mashed potatoes with chicken gravy to fill us up. And then there would usually be a homemade cake, candy, or another sweet treat for dessert. These were the best meals of my childhood.
This chicken is so easy to cook that even if you are new to cooking, you can make this without stressing. The trick is to use an instant read thermometer to judge the doneness of the chicken. There are plenty of other suggestions, but a good instant read thermometer will always let you know when it is perfectly cooked. You can trust me on this one. 😉
And remember that foods continue to cook after you’ve taken them out of the oven – that’s called carry-over cooking – so always pull it out about 5-degrees before it is done and let it rest. This will give it time to come to the perfect temperature and allows the juices to migrate back into the center of the chicken or roast.
When you sit down at the table with your family and enjoy this simple roast chicken, you can thank my grandmother for instilling in me my passion for cooking.
Nothing is easier, smells better, or is more delicious than perfectly roasted chicken!
How to make Simple Roast Chicken:
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Create a rack of alternating grid of sliced onions, celery and carrots
- Place the cleaned chicken on top of the vegetables
- Insert the lemon and quartered onion in the cavity along with the herbs
- Oil the outside of the chicken and season with salt and pepper
- Roast about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it reaches 160°F in the breast
- Move to a cutting board and rest 15 minutes before carving
How to move the chicken from the roasting pan?
A challenge for many is how to move a steaming hot chicken from the roasting pan to a cutting board. I have found that if I use two utensils, a large carving fork and a sturdy wooden spoon, I can move it easily without burning myself. Insert the spoon into the cavity of the bird and stick the fork into the opposite end. Lift both together and gently tilt the bird so that juices in the cavity pour into the pan, then move the chicken to the cutting board.
If you don’t have a large roasting pan, you can use a 9×13-inch baking pan if your chicken isn’t too large or use a baking sheet. The lower edges on the baking sheet makes it even easier to transfer the chicken to a cutting board!
How to make gravy from the pan drippings
You can use the pan juices as an au jus or make gravy from them. Remove the chicken from the pan and set on a cutting board to rest. Strain the pan juices into a saucepan. Whisk in a cornstarch slurry (2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp cool water). Bring to a boil and cook until thickened. Serve over the sliced chicken.
Instead of spending money on a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, you can use this recipe to make your own simple roast chicken from scratch and control all the ingredients. You can use the meat in any recipe that calls for cooked chicken! This same technique can be used with chickens, turkeys, turkey parts, game hens, guinea hens, etc. Virtually any poultry except duck.
Key Ingredients for Simple Roast Chicken
- A whole chicken
- Salt and pepper
- Lemon, onions, celery, and carrots
- Fresh herbs such as sage, thyme, parsley, and/or rosemary
- Olive oil
Kitchen Tools I Use to Make This Recipe (affiliate links)
Other Chicken Recipes You May Enjoy:
- Orange Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls
- Gluten-Free Fried Chicken Cutlets with Madeira Gravy
- Brazilian Chicken Stew with Lemongrass-Cilantro Sauce
- Oven-Baked Chicken Risotto
- Chicken Divan with Roasted Vegetables
- Mediterranean Chicken with Harissa Yogurt Sauce & Pistachios
- Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie
- Basil Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole (Gluten-Free)
As long as you don’t buy a pre-brined chicken, this dish is naturally gluten-free! If you are using packaged dried herbs instead of fresh, always be certain they are gluten-free with no chance of cross contamination.
Grandma's Simple Roast Chicken
There is nothing that smells better when cooking, is more delicious, or easy to make that this classic simple roasted chicken. I learned to make this from my grandmother and am sharing it with you to make for your family and friends. Make sure you add a big dose of love and everyone will applaud when it is served!
- 1 med onion, peeled and thickly sliced
- 3 stalks celery, halved lengthwise
- 4 carrots, trimmed and split lengthwise in half
- 1 (3 to 4 lb) whole chicken, cavity cleaned and rinsed
- Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 small onion, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
- Fresh herbs such as sage, thyme, parsley, or rosemary, rinsed
- Olive or vegetable oil
- Onion powder, optional
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
- Set the oven racks to the top one is in the lower third of the oven. You want plenty of room for the air to circulate around the chicken. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil the bottom of a roasting pan that is about an inch or two larger than your chicken, preferably with 2-inch high sides.
- Use the sliced onions, celery, and carrots to create a "rack" to hold the chicken in the roasting pan. This keeps the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the pan and the vegetables flavor the drippings, helping to create the base for lovely au jus or an outstanding chicken gravy.
- Pat the chicken dry and liberally salt and pepper the inside cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the back, twisting the backwards until they are secured. Set it on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan. Insert the lemon and onion pieces in the cavity and tuck the sprigs of herbs inside.
- Brush the entire outside of the bird with a light coating of the oil. Sprinkle the tops of the breast and legs with more salt, pepper, and onion powder if desired. Pour the chicken broth or water in the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Place the roasting pan in the hot oven and let the chicken cook undisturbed for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the breast (not touching any bones) registers about 160°F and the skin is the color of burnished gold.
- Remove from the oven and set aside, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for about 15 minutes before carving and serving. Store any leftover chicken with the pan juices, covered, in the refrigerator.
- To Make Gravy: You can use the pan juices as an au jus or make gravy from them. Remove the chicken from the pan and set on a cutting board to rest. Strain the pan juices into a saucepan. Whisk in a cornstarch slurry (2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp cool water). Bring to a boil and cook until thickened. Serve over the sliced chicken.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 86Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 122mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g
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First Published: 27 Nov 2015
Last Updated: 6 Dec 2019
Just the way I was taught!
Love that I have the memories of cooking and baking with my grandmother – she was the best cook!