I rarely buy chicken breasts.
In fact, I have some issues with them.
- Waste: Today, farmers are encouraged to raise bigger chickens in the shortest amount of time. The results are sick animals needing drugs and too heavy to comfortably walk around. The demand for chicken breasts drives this profit-based practice. While the breasts and a couple of other choice parts are cut up and sold, the bones and skin along with less desired pieces are discarded. Valuable parts of the chicken which provide many vitamins and minerals.
- Respect: As a former vegetarian, I believe it is important to respect the source of our food, particularly when another life is given. Lets face it, in order, for my family to eat chicken a chicken must die. Chicken breasts cause one to loose this connection and respect. Eating in such a selective way causes us to forget another living being gave its life in order to sustain us. It’s important to respect the chicken by using the whole animal, not killing it for just a couple of choice pieces of meat.
- Cost: Buying chicken breasts alone are expensive. For the price of two chicken breasts (1lb), around $6, I can purchase 1.5lbs of a pastured whole chicken. With 1lb of breasts I will have nothing leftover. With 1lb of a whole chicken I may not have any meat left, but I will have bones which will make nourishing broth to use in another meal.
Now, I would be lying to say I don’t purchase and cook chicken breasts. I do occasionally purchase chicken breasts at my local health food store. Frankly, I have a difficult time finding any farm that will sell just breasts. Wonder why?
Remember the part about respecting the whole animal and not wasting? Hmmm.
We love chicken. There is something incredibly comforting about a chicken meal. The alternative, a whole chicken.
I purchase whole chickens through a local farm, paying around $3.50-$4/lb for a whole pastured chicken. The price tag looks hefty at first. A 4lb whole chicken can cost $14-16.
With that one chicken I am able to feed my family dinner and leftovers for lunch. The bones are saved to toss in the crock pot to make broth. I come away with eighteen cups of fresh nutrient-dense broth which is frozen and used to cook rice and added to soups. Think about how much eighteen cups of chicken broth would cost from a store.
We are also reminded with each chicken meal that an animal gave its life to nourish us. We use as much of the animal as possible to honor the life given.
How to Roast a Whole Chicken
- 1 whole chicken rinsed, innards removed, and patted dry, 3-4lbs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 4-5 TB butter
- 1 lemon
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 onion halved
- Preheat the oven to 425º.
- Wash and dry chicken and remove any innards.
- Chop butter into cubes. Rub the chicken with one tablespoon and stuff the rest inside the cavity. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the entire lemon over the chicken. Add the lemon to the cavity. Chop about a tablespoon of fresh herbs. Rub the chopped herbs over your chicken. Add a few sprigs of fresh herbs in the cavity. Stuff that baby full of fresh goodness. Add the onion and whole garlic cloves peeled to the cavity.
- Sprinkle the outside with salt and fresh pepper.
- Cover with foil or if your roaster has a top, cover and bake for 30 minutes at 425º.
- After 30 minutes turn the temp down to 375º and continue to bake for about 40 more minutes.
- When the chicken is ready, the leg should wiggle and pull away without much effort, and the juices should run clear.
- Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Cut and serve.
- Remember, save the bones to make broth.
I just made this tonight with a 3.5lb chicken from Trail Bale farm in Tampa. Followed your recipe and cooking time and it was delicious! I removed the lid from my roaster for the last ten minutes to brown the skin a bit. Price of chicken sure has gone up, $28 for mine versus your $14-$16 when you wrote this and I think we bought from the same farm. 🙂
Hey Sara, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’m paying the same these days–you’re right, prices really have increased since 2014! I’m part of the CSA program with Travis, which is a 4-month commitment. He discounts products 10% for CSA members, so may be worth the little savings.
thanku for such a nice receipe.
This is one of our classics. I’ve tried a few roast chicken recipes but this one is our tried and true, always delicious and economical too.
Yay, Sarah! So glad you’re loving the recipe. Thank you for commenting and rating it. That means so much.
Is that a ceramic roast pan that you used? If so, where did you get it?
Hey Kristin, Yes, it is :). I purchase it from HomeGoods, but I also have a white one from Crate and Barrel.
Hi! I’ve been cooking my whole chickens in the crockpot, but wasn’t a huge fan of how they tasted so I thought I’d try roasting. I just finished my 2nd chicken and I’m having trouble making sure that it is done, but not overcooked. I have a meat thermometer but can’t tell if I’m using it right. The temp was right, but I was still nervous after cutting into it. Tonight the meat looked done, but the area where the big blood vessel is was super red. Not necessarily like the meat wasn’t done, but like blood had leaked onto the meat (that sounds really gross). Does that mean the chicken isn’t properly cooked? Any tips or resources you have would be appreciated. Thanks for all of your recipes and tips! Love your blog.
I totally understand! Roasting a whole chicken and knowing when it’s done can be a bit tricky, but there are a few signs to watch for..
1- When you tip the chicken, the juices from the cavity should run clear. If the juices are pink, the bird isn’t ready yet…almost. If they are red, then a lot more cooking time is needed.
2-The wiggle test! This was my mom’s trick growing up, but it works! Grab the drumstick by the end and wiggle it (with a hot pad holder). If the drumstick easily moves without any issue, almost separating from the chicken, then the chicken is generally done.
3- You can also pierce the thickest part of the chicken (generally the breast) with a fork. If the juices run clear then you know the bird is done. If the juices are pink, more cooking time is needed.
Rest assured, I’ve run into red veins before even with a fully-cooked chicken. Also, I agree about the crock-pot chicken taste (I’m not a huge fan), but roasting a chicken produces the most amazing flavors!
PS: I’m so glad you love the blog! Thank you so much :).
Thank you! Trying again on Monday. 🙂
You’re welcome! Let me know how it goes.
Can you do this same recipe in a crockpot?
Hey Paige, Yes, you can! I would cook the chicken on high for 4-6 hours, depending on the size of your chicken. You can even debone the chicken right in the crock-pot and then make broth with the bones. So there’s very little clean-up with the crockpot method.
When you use the skin and bones to make broth, do you also add the broth that ends up in the bottom of the pan from roasting the chickens along with additional water? Love your blog…you have so much good information on it! 🙂
Hi Joyce, We use the “juice” at the bottom of the pan to make schmaltz, a rendered fat that’s delicious for cooking and nourishing. You can learn how to make it here: https://livesimply.me/index.php/2013/10/10/make-homemade-schmaltz/
Hi kristin! How do you safe leftover meat to use in the future? (Chickrn cannot last more than 3 days in the fridge)
If I don’t use it within a few days (which I usually always do) I freeze the remainder. It defrosts perfectly int eh fridge for sandwiches or salads or just to eat plain.
I bought two organic whole chickens yesterday and came right here to get some ideas. I knew you did a whole blog on using a whole chicken. Thanks!
Perfect! Glad I could help 🙂
Kristin! I love this! We buy whole all the time and stretch into a few meals! Thanks for linking up at http://www.organizedsahm.com
Thank you for this post! I am trying to find ways to be more economical with real food and this tip is one I needed to read and begin implementing. You are right, whole chickens are a better investment for my family than just breasts. 🙂
Thank you! I am always looking for ways to provide our family with the best real food possible and also keep it affordable.
When you make your broth is there a ratio that should be followed for how much water to add? I make bone broth to use in soup and for rice, etc., but it seems like my freezer is overflowing with unused broth. Am I adding too much water and thereby making too much broth? I don’t measure it so I can’t tell you exactly how much water I’m using.
I just fill our crock pot to the top with water after adding the bones and veggies. You should have quite a bit of liquid once the broth is finished. I also use the broth for just about anything I would traditionally use water for when cooking. Steaming veggies, cooking rice or other grains (including pasta), adding a bit to homemade spaghetti sauce, and weekly soups. I go through times where I have an overabundance and other times when I am desperate for more broth in the freezer. Sounds like you are adding the perfect amount of water!
I love the idea of doing two, one for lunch and one for dinners!!! I’ll be doing this for sure! Sara @ http://sarahowe.blogspot.com
I always buy pasture raised chicken now. One thing I have found with these type of chickens is that they may not be as “tender” as those commercially raised. That is due to the injected “solutions” they put in commercially raised chicken that makes them “tender”. One way to improve the tenderness of a naturally raised chicken is to bake it upside down. Do all the normal things in this recipe but when you put it in your baking pan or dutch oven place the chicken breast side down. The fat from the dark meat and back will render down through the breast making it all very tender and flavorful. You can flip the bird for the last 10 minutes or so to ensure even browning to the skin if you like. Bon Apetit!
This is for the non squeamish! I save all my bones for soup just like you guys do. I also ask my organic butcher for any backs and chicken feet (that’s the squeamish part, haha). These parts are really cheap. Be sure to buy feet that have had the claws (nails) removed as they harbor bacteria. If you cook all your bones along with maybe 1/2 pound chicken feet for hours (5 hours or more) using onion, celery, carrot and parsley, garlic for seasoning etc,, you will have bone broth that becomes absolute jello when cooled in the fridge. It freezes really well too. Super protein and collagen source.