Rapturous roast chicken

(iStock/Getty Images Plus/Tanya_F)

By Keri White

A roast chicken is a quintessential holiday meal. But just because it is traditional and typical does not mean that it isn’t wonderful, or that it can’t be really special.

Even a meh roast chicken is pretty good, but when it is brined properly, seasoned well and roasted with care and precision, well, it can be pretty darn transcendent.

Many brining instructions require heating the water to dissolve the spices, then cooling the brine before adding the chicken. Pshaw, I say. I have always just chucked it all in cold and it’s worked just fine.

Serves 4



  • 1 roaster, 5-7 pounds
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon each finely ground pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme and dried rosemary
  • 1 gallon water (approximately)
  • ⅓ cup white vinegar



  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ½ cup water or broth


Brine the chicken: Fill a large pot halfway with water, and add all remaining ingredients except the chicken; stir to dissolve. Rinse the chicken, remove the giblets and place it in the pot. Fill the pot the rest of the way with water to cover the chicken. Cover the pot and place it in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.

Roast the chicken: When the brining is complete, heat your oven to 350 F. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse well, pat dry and place it in the roasting pan. Place garlic inside the chicken cavity and pour the broth or water into the bottom of the pan.

Roast the chicken in the oven for 20 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 170 F. Tent the chicken with foil for about 10 minutes. Scoop about ¾ cup of pan drippings to mash into the potatoes. Carve, plate and, just before serving, pour some of the remaining pan drippings onto the sliced meat.

Keri White is a food columnist in Philadelphia.

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