Roast a Chicken

Hello and welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes. On Tuesday, I roasted a chicken for dinner, which I don’t do nearly enough. It’s typically faster to cook chicken breasts, thighs or legs instead, and easier to serve them too (no carving). Those little advantages spell big impact when everyone is hungry and cranky.

But it’s not hard to roast a whole chicken, and it’s one of the great soul-sustaining foods. It’s also something that every meat-eating home cook ought to know how to do. There are several methods for cooking a perfectly simple roast chicken, each with its advocates. The one below is unusually speedy and foolproof and something you could pull off tonight if you wanted.

There’s something else you could do tonight, though, and that is pick up dinner from a restaurant, if you have the means to do so. I know, I usually encourage you to cook. But I love restaurants, too, and their future is looking grimmer by the day here in the United States. Ordering takeout doesn’t address the full and staggering scope of the problem, but please think of your favorite restaurants, and how they’ve taken care of you over the years, and how you might now help take care of them.

Lastly, happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate. I made Joan Nathan’s new latkes last night, and they delivered a lot of joy. As always, tell me what you’ve been cooking and what you think at [email protected]

Here are five dishes for the week:

1. Simplest Roast Chicken

How to make a great roast chicken in under an hour: Start with a screaming-hot oven and a preheated cast-iron pan. This four-ingredient recipe by Mark Bittman reliably produces juicy meat and crisp skin, making it a good choice for roasting novices and an excellent method for weeknight cooks.

View this recipe.


2. Pasta With Bacon, Cheese, Lemon and Pine Nuts

I made this on Monday, and my little family went crazy for it, which is the point: Julia Moskin wrote the recipe to be customizable for everyone at the table. That means the adults had lemony, bacon-laced rigatoni; the kids had pasta with butter and cheese, bacon on the side. If you keep lemon in the fridge, bacon in the freezer and pasta in the pantry, you will always have what you need to cook this dish.