The Simplest Dish In The World To Cook, According To Ina Garten

Like most of us, renowned cookbook author and television personality Ina Garten wants to relax after work. After testing recipes for her various projects all day, she wants something simple and easy when it comes to dinner. However, unlike the general populous who may turn to delivery or microwaving leftovers, she prefers to make something that is quick and ready straight out of the oven: Enter, the roast chicken.

At its core, roast chicken is an extremely simple affair, involving very little prep time while producing excellent results. It can be paired with just about any side dish, including some that you can cook alongside the chicken in the oven. It is also a meal that can be dressed up for special occasions, perfect for small dinner parties, or left simple for a weeknight dinner with loved ones. With the proper technique and temperature, you can make roasted chicken part of your cooking repertoire even on the busiest weeknights.

Making roast chicken

To make a roast chicken, all you need is a whole chicken – Garten prefers smaller ones — and some seasonings. First, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the pouch of neck, gizzards, and heart from the cavity, and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. If you have time, place the chicken in the fridge without any covering for a couple of hours, so the skin will dry out and get nicely crisp when roasted. Season the bird inside and out with a generous helping of salt and ground pepper. Place the chicken in an oven-proof pan and place in the middle rack of the oven. Roast until the skin is well browned and cooked through. Let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.

You can make the dish your own by customizing it. For example, if you have compound butter on hand, add some between the skin and breast meat. As the chicken roasts, the butter will baste the white meat to keep it moist. If you have any roasting vegetables on hand, such as carrots and new potatoes, they can serve as a bed for your chicken. Simply cut the vegetables and toss them with olive oil and seasonings. Place them evenly on the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top. The chicken juices will drip down to the vegetables, adding extra flavor. Then, your entire meal will be ready to serve: protein, vegetables, and starch!

Delicious (and useful) leftovers

Roast chicken is not only delicious on the day that it is cooked, but it is also fantastic as leftovers — and not just as they are. Roasted chicken is great for transformation. For example, if you have meat and potatoes left over, you can turn them into a chicken hash by adding both to some sauteed onions and roasted red peppers. Leftover meat is also fantastic as a chicken salad; just toss the meat cold with mayonnaise, chopped celery, sliced soft-boiled eggs, mustard, green apple wedges, and scallions.

Once you are done picking every bit of the meat from the chicken, don't throw the carcass away. Instead, simmer the bones with water and vegetable scraps such as carrots, onions, and celery to make a homemade chicken broth. Simply let the pot simmer until the water transforms into a flavorful broth. Strain the bones and vegetables from the broth, and it can be stored in the fridge or freezer for future use — perfect for when you crave something like silky egg drop soup.