If there is one dish I would want others to know how to make, it would have to be roast chicken. It's something that can be bought inexpensively (where many times, the price of for a whole chicken is less than $1.00/lb), it easy to prepare and can be stretched out into several meals and endless possibilities to use it!
I'm sure you've seen those rotisserie chickens at local supermarkets. They're hard to miss with their gorgeous color, delicious smells and the convenience of them being ready to eat. But for me, aside from all those tempting reasons, I look at the cost. Sure, it can cost anywhere from $4.00 to even $8.00... for a roast chicken. That's when I hit up the fresh meats section and notice a fresh whole chicken is far less.
Being that I love to cook, I often stock up on whole chickens when they go on sale. they freeze wonderfully but better yet, I enjoy making roast chickens because I can impart my own tastes and put some wonderful aromas in my kitchen as it bakes. Here's how I roast whole chickens:
Simple Roast Chicken
1 whole fresh chicken
your choice of seasonings/spices
a bottle of your choice of salad dressing
your choice of aromatics: cut up citrus, fresh herbs, etc.
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Rinse off your chicken after removing it from its packaging; pat dry and place in a gallon sized zip top storage bag. If your chicken won't fit into a bag, place it in a baking dish or bowl.
Spice Rubbed Chicken - combine about 1/2 of your choice of dried herbs, spices and seasonings or a combination. Place this mixture in the ziptop bag along with your chicken, close up the bag and coat the chicken completely. Alternately, coat the chicken inside a baking dish or bowl.
Marinated Chicken - Pour an entire bottle of your choice of salad dressing into the zip top bag, close up the bag and coat the chicken completely. Alternately, coat the chicken inside a baking dish or bowl.
Adding Aromatics - Chop up your choice of citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, etc) and add some fresh herb springs (thyme, rosemary, oregano, etc) and even chopped up onions and whole garlic cloves into the cavity of the chicken.
Place your spice rubbed or marinated chicken onto a baking dish or roasting pan. If you don't have a roasting rack, you can elevate the chicken by setting it on top of chopped up vegetables (onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, etc) to allow fat to drip down and flavor them. Just before baking, drizzle the olive oil over the top of the chicken and gently rub it in. The oil will give the chicken a nice golden color as it bakes.
Bake your chicken in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours - 2 hours, depending on the size of your bird. It may take longer too... but I test for doneness by using a meat thermometer (which you can get from your supermarket's gadget aisle or any retail store like Walmart, Target, etc). The magic number is an internal temperature of 180 degrees.
Once your chicken is done, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute. Cutting the chicken right from the oven will result in dry chicken so give it some time to rest.
You can eat the chicken as is and/or de-bone the chicken to use the meat in other ways such as casseroles, chicken salad, fillings for baked pastas (lasagna, stuffed shells, etc), filled Mexican inspired dishes (tacos, burritos, quesadillas, etc), Asian dishes (stir fries, fried rice, etc)... there's so much you can do!
Chicken Stock - But wait, don't throw out the bones, skins or even the carcass! Put them in a pot with some water, chopped onion, garlic cloves, vegetable scraps, etc. Boil this and make some homemade chicken stock which you can use in recipes to replace water, or make soup!