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The Perfect Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken_Sam the Cooking Guy_Recipes with Intentional Leftovers. Copyright 2020 by Sam Zien. Photography by Lucas Barbieri_feature

I’ve always thought of chicken as the little black dress of the food world. It can be sophisticated for a Friday night or casual for a Sunday lunch. I actually started writing this book with a different chicken recipe in mind, but I started making this version a few months ago and can’t stop. It’s moist, it’s tender—it’s everything you want in a chicken. So whatever you do, just make one . . . or two.

Roast Chicken_Sam the Cooking Guy_Recipes with Intentional Leftovers. Copyright 2020 by Sam Zien. Photography by Lucas Barbieri

The Perfect Roast Chicken

Sam Zien
There’s no need to rinse or wash the chicken to remove bacteria. The fact that you’re going to cook it will take care of that. The only thing washing a chicken will really do is to possibly splatter chicken grossness all over your sink and counter—and that’s not necessarily a good thing. And if you don’t want to believe me, perhaps the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can convince you: “During washing, chicken juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops.”
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 1 chicken


  • One 3-1/2 - 4 pound chicken, a little bigger is no problem
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 garlic head, halved crosswise
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil or 2 to 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature


  • Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place a rack (if you have one, and you should) in a roasting pan large enough to hold the chicken.
  • Remove anything from inside the chicken (neck, giblets, etc.) and save for another use. Dry the chicken thoroughly with paper towels. (See the headnote).
  • Put chicken on the rack in the roasting pan.
  • Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken, then insert the lemon quarters and garlic head.
  • Rub outside of the chicken with oil or butter and season well with salt and pepper.
  • Tie the legs together with kitchen string (nothing fancy; you just want to keep them from going rogue during cooking) and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.
  • Roast in the oven until the skin is nicely browned and the chicken is tender, about 3 hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.
  • Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.


Excerpted from Sam the Cooking Guy: Recipes with Intentional Leftovers. Copyright 2020 by Sam Zien. Photography by Lucas Barbieri. Reproduced by permission of The Countryman Press, a Division of W.W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved.
Keyword chicken, Roasting

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