Whole Roasted Chicken with Potatoes

Whole Roasted Chicken with Potatoes
From Martha Stewart

Back in January I mentioned a little quest that John and I have devised for 2012.  Living in a city as big as Chicago there’s about a million food vendors to choose from, yet most people will go to the same 2 or 3 grocery stores from now until eternity.  We’re determined to break that trend by adding 12 new food sellers to our repertoire this year: one per month.  In January we ordered a produce box from a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group.  It produced at ton of great food for us including curried pot pies and tangy cauliflower.  In the end John deemed it too expensive to order very often, but I’m glad we gave it a  try and enjoyed one very veggie week!

For February we set our sights on something a little meatier.  At the end of our block is a very curious windowless store advertising, in both English and Spanish, chickens of every make and model.  Places without windows generally scare me, so despite walking past countless times we’ve never ventured in.  Until now.

We strolled over on Monday afternoon, took a deep breath, and plunged into the unknown.  You know how most of the time mysteries such as this one get so built up in your head, you are disappointed by how boring it is once you really see it?  NOT THIS TIME.  The first thing that hit us was the awful smell.  Actually, hit is too gentle of a word.  More like smacked us in the face repeatedly and then punched us in the stomach for good measure.  Inside was a long, mostly empty deli counter containing chicken organs, presumably.  A lady sitting lackadaisically behind the counter initially offered no recognition of our entrance into the depths of hell.  We looked at each other, at the chicken organ deli case, at the door.  What do we do???  Finally, the woman addressed us.  Not knowing what else to say I squeeked out “6-pound whole chicken, please.”  She casually responded “head on or off?”  At this point I freeze and turn to John, eyes wide.  He manages to request one without the head and the woman scurries into a back room.  While I’m frantically pondering whether we should have requested feathers off too, John makes the revelation of the day.  Down a narrow hallway, at the back of the building we can see chickens – alive!  The chickens are causing the smell, because they are ALIVE UNTIL YOU BUY THEM.  Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Whole Foods anymore.

I ponied up $11 dollars and we hurried back into the fresh air with a chicken that was most certainly alive at breakfast-time that day.  We brought it home and dove into the process of dressing it for roasting.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that it was, in fact, pre-plucked.  It did still have most of its neck, but luckily John is less squeamish than me when it comes to hacking through chicken bones/trachea/esophagus.  Eww.

In the end the little guy lost his life for a pretty good cause: our first ever whole roasted chicken.  The skin is crispy, the meat flavorful, and the gravy luscious.  And the potatoes, oh the potatoes.  Honestly, every potato deserves to be roasted in the juices of a cooking bird.  Yum.


  • 1 6-lb roasting chicken, giblets removed
  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 3 red potatoes, cubed
  • olive oil, to taste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • kitchen twine


  1. Let the chicken and 1 tablespoon butter sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water.  Thoroughly dry inside and out with paper towels.
  4. Rub the 1 tablespoon of room temperature butter over the outside of the chicken.  Stick a little butter under the skin of the breast meat for good measure.
  5. Sprinkle the entire chicken, inside and out, with liberal amounts of salt and pepper.  Seriously, give it a very generous sprinkle.
  6. Tuck the wing tips under the body.
  7. Using kitchen twine, cross the legs and tie them together.
  8. Place the whole thyme sprigs in the cavity of the chicken.
  9. Roll the lemon on the counter to release the juices.  Pierce the surface of the lemon with the fork about 5 times.  Place the lemon in the cavity of the chicken.
  10. Use the side of a knife to smash the garlic cloves.  Place them in the cavity of the chicken.
  11. Place the onion slices in the bottom of a roasting pan (no rack needed, as the onions will serve as your rack).  Cluster them so that they are in a single layer, but touching.
  12. Set the chicken, breast side up, atop the onions.
  13. Sprinkle the potatoes around the perimeter of the roasting pan.
  14. Drizzle the potatoes with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  15. Roast in the oven until skin is deep golden brown and breast meat temperature reads 180 degrees, about 1 1/2 hours.
  16. Place chicken on a cutting board.  Remove potatoes from roasting pan and set aside, covered with foil to keep warm.
  17. Heat the roasting pan over 2 burners on the stove over medium high heat for 1 minute.
  18. Add chicken broth and use a wooden spoon to remove the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Cook until liquid is reduced by about half.
  19. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl.  Push on the onions in the strainer to release all their juices into the gravy.  Discard onions.
  20. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of cold butter.
  21. Untie the chicken’s legs, remove thyme, lemon and garlic.  Carve and serve with gravy and potatoes.

Serves 4.

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6 Responses to Whole Roasted Chicken with Potatoes

  1. lauren says:

    tera, i think this is, hands-down, the best “story behind the recipe” on here, and thus my personal favorite to date. keep up the crazy discoveries and adventures around town! did you hear the chicken squeal?

  2. Doreen Dodero says:

    That is the best story EVER!

  3. Mary Ellen says:

    Hillarious! Next time you go, hopefully you can pick your “own” chicken, just like picking your own fresh lobster!

  4. Arlene Miller says:

    Recipe looks scrumptious !!!
    The way you write we think you should become an author.

  5. lynn stachura says:

    Oh love the story, but I can beat that one — we were vacationing with friends in Banff area and she actually cooked chicken’s feet all night long! Tom and I had to open the window all night — pretty cold at night — just to breathe. Seeing those raw feet in her frig just about freaked me out, but little did I know the worse was to come that evening. Don’t ask!

    p.s. I took your advise on kale and have been adding to soups quite a bit. Sorry, not eating it straight out with bacon, though!


    • Honeymoon Kitchen says:

      Gross! I know chicken feet are super popular in Chinese cuisine, and I always see people eating them when we go for dim sum, but I just can’t bring myself to try it. I think you have suck the meat out of them. Eww.

      Glad you’re liking kale!!

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