What's For Dinner: Cast-Iron Roasted Chicken

I have to be honest. This recipe made a ginormous mess in my oven. Gi-nor-mous. (I'll explain below what you can do to minimize the mess.) But ... BUT ... the resulting chicken was so delicious. The skin was perfectly browned and crisp, the meat was incredibly moist and flavorful, and let's face it, the presentation of a whole roasted chicken in a cast-iron skillet is kind of fantastic. I would definitely consider making this recipe again ... but maybe after first covering the interior of my oven entirely in aluminum foil.

But perhaps I can skip wrapping my oven in aluminum foil if I just adjust my cooking technique slightly. I think my major error was adding some vegetable oil to my cast-iron skillet, fearing that the chicken might stick. However, since our cast-iron skillet is well-seasoned, I could have skipped that step, thus avoiding a whole lotta oil splatter all along the top, bottom, and sides of my oven. Of course, when roasting a chicken, some mess is expected, but my mistake caused a mess that was much larger than it needed to be. Learn from my mistakes! And, one more handy tip: baking soda with a little water is a life-saver when it comes to cleaning the interior of your oven!

Cast-Iron Roasted Chicken (printer-friendly version)
makes 4-6 servings

1 three-pound organic chicken
3-4 springs fresh thyme
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1 small white onion, cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
herbes de Provence

1. Place a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet on the middle rack in the oven and preheat to 475 degrees.
2. Remove the giblets (if necessary) from the cavity of the chicken. Pat the body dry with paper towels.
3. Place the chicken on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the skin connecting the legs to the body. Spread each leg until the joint pops and the leg lies flat. (See a video of this process here.) Insert the fresh thyme, lemon quarters, onion quarters, and garlic cloves into the body cavity of the chicken. Drizzle olive oil over top the chicken and gently rub it into the skin. Season with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence.
4. Carefully remove the hot cast-iron skillet from the oven. Place the chicken in the skillet, breast-side up. Lightly push down on the legs so that they rest completely on the bottom of the skillet.
5. Roast the chicken in the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reaches 165 degrees.
6. Remove the skillet from the oven, tent the chicken with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve and serve.