I love roast chicken, but I don’t always have time to do it right, so I find myself searching for a low-maintenance, easy roast chicken recipe. Basting is key to getting a crisp, delicious outer skin (which, in the Cadman household, is the most important part of the chicken!), but that means you have to be available every 10 or 15 minutes for as long as the chicken is cooking, which can be up to 90 minutes (or 9 bastings!). Not easy when you are running a ranch and chasing around two adorable kiddos.
Basting isn’t anything more than repeatedly applying fat to the surface of the chicken so it cooks faster and more thoroughly than the interior of the bird (aka it gets crisp). Lots of people employ oven bags to achieve a well-browned chicken, but I can’t bring myself to cook in plastic… So I got to thinking. How could I apply fat frequently while the chicken is cooking, but not be required to be available that often?
The answer? Bacon!
I wrapped the chicken in bacon and stuck him in a nice hot oven. It was AMAZING. In fact, the chicken came out so juicy that it burst at the leg joints! Best. Roast. Chicken. EVER.
Here are the details:
Preheat oven to 400F.
Thinly slice (if not already sliced) 1/2 lb fresh, uncured bacon, backfat, or jowl.
Loosen skin of 4-5 lb pasture-raised whole chicken and season underneath with mixture of salt, oregano, thyme, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne.
Quarter onion and place 1/2 onion inside body cavity of chicken.
Tie drumsticks together with kitchen twine.
Wrap Bacon strips around chicken as shown. They won’t shift much during cooking, so don’t worry about making them secure. Just wrap them as closely as possible. I also put one on the wing.
Place the chicken breast-side up on a rack over a heavy-bottomed baking dish. (I use a cookie rack over a glass 9×13.) Keeping the bird out of the drippings is necessary for all-over crispness.
Bake for one hour, brushing the bird with pan drippings if desired. At one hour, check the thigh temperature. If it’s 180F, the chicken is done. If not, reduce the oven temperature to 350F and cook until the thigh reaches 180F. For my nearly six-pound bird, it took another 30 minutes.
Remove chicken from oven and tent with foil. If using unseasoned bacon, salt the surface of the chicken lightly. Allow to rest for about 15 minutes before carving. Serve pieces with bacon intact. Use drippings for biscuits or Yorkshire pudding. Our chicken was incredibly juicy and delicious. I will definitely be using this method again!