The Vegetarian and the Roasted Chicken

For dinner last night, I decided to make a roast chicken. Doug had been working long hours this week, and I thought that it would be special for us to have a nice dinner at home. Since I started re-introducing meat to my diet (I was a vegetarian for 5 years), I've been trying new recipes and experimenting with different meats. It has opened up my eyes to so many new menu options!

I brought the 4 pound chicken home and cleaned it, taking out the insides, rinsed it with water and patted it dry. I dry it, as to not create any steam which would allow for more dry heat to cook the chicken. When cooking with dry heat, you want to cook at high temperatures for a shorter period of time. I sprinkled the cavity with sea salt and fresh black pepper, and did the same on the outside. I didn't have any kitchen twine, so the chicken went "un-tressed", but I did cover the drumstick bones with foil so they wouldn't burn. (Mental note to pick up some kitchen twine!)
I preheated the oven to 450 (see note above on dry heat) and put the bird in a shallow medal pan. I'm still in the process of building my kitchen, so I don't have a roasting pan and I thought the substitute would work fine. Now, chefs and cooks tell you never to leave anything in the oven unattended, however, I had to leave for 5 minutes and I figured the bird would be just fine, as it would be roasting for 90 minutes, so what was a measly 5 minutes left alone? I mean, really, what is the worst that could happen?
Well, I was welcomed back by the beeping of the fire alarm. And while it could always be worse, the house was filled with smoke and the loud, irritating alarm was going off and we could hear it from down the hall. Long story short, I had to trouble shoot by transferring the chicken into a deeper, glass cooking dish, covering it with foil and turning the temperature down to 400 degrees. The juices from the chicken were splattering all over the bottom of the stove and creating smoke. When I removed the chicken from the oven, I sprinkled it with a few pinches of dried thyme and let the bird sit for 10 minutes while I made a salad.
Other than the fire alarm mishap, the chicken was perfect. Roasting a chicken seemed intimidating, but it was simple, relatively hands-off and delicious. You get more meat for your money, can use any leftover meat to make chicken salad and use the carcass to make chicken stock. What's not to like?
Some recipes call for butter or require you to baste the chicken while it's in the oven, but I left my bird alone and let it do it's own thing. Whichever you decide to follow, give it a try and let me know how it turns out!
Happy cooking!