I’ve got a long, long, long list of Things To Do With Leftover Roast Chicken. Roast chicken is my default, no-think, no-plan meal- it’s very hands off, so it’s easy to do at the end of a long crazy day while I am simultaneously starting supper and wrangling two small children. (Sidenote: I say it’s easy because as a stay at home parent, I am usually at home well in advance of supper time and therefore have the luxury of starting dinner an hour and a half before I want to eat. Back in the days I worked out of the home, I’d roast the chicken on Sundays and use the leftovers for a much quicker weeknight meal. Just in case you thought I was some jerk who thought oh, everyone’s got plenty of time to fix dinner. But I digress.)
I know this is pretty basic stuff, but I have spent years perfecting this technique (stolen mostly from Marcella Hazan with a pinch of Joel Robuchon via Howard Rodman) and accumulating a file of things to do with the leftovers, so here you go. All you need is a chicken, salt and pepper, and a lemon, and you are good to go.
I like to use a kosher chicken because you don’t have to worry about brining it. I recommend getting the smallest chicken you can find- 3 lbs is ideal, anything over 4 not so great. You can also roast two chickens at once if you are feeding a crowd, or want even more leftovers, or just want to have an extra pickin’ chicken in your fridge for the week. Also, you do not need any olive oil or anything, not even for the carrots and potatoes. That chicken is going to throw off plenty of fat (you’ll see.)
First take a fork and poke a bunch of holes in your lemon. (Marcella Hazan would have you use two lemons but I only use one- we have a lemon tree and those suckers are big.) Rinse your chicken w/cold water and dry well with paper towels. (I get a big stack of paper towels out before I start so I don’t touch the roll with my raw-chicken hands.) Sprinkle a very, very ample amount of salt and pepper in the chicken cavity, and then put the lemon inside, too. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper and place breast side down in a roasting pan. I like to put it on top of some cut up carrots and potatoes.
Did you notice I did not mention preheating the oven? Don’t preheat your oven. Put the chicken in a cold oven and then turn the oven on to 375. That’s the Joel Robuchon tip for extra crisp skin. Cook for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, flip the chicken over. (At this point I also get a spatula and run it under the carrots/potatoes so they do not stick and toss them a bit in the runoff chicken fat.) Cook for 35 more minutes.
Now turn the oven up to 425 and cook for 20-25 more minutes. (Also give the carrots/potatoes another shake.)
Alternatively, you could just get a grocery store rotisserie chicken. Although if you are in the greater Los Angeles area I implore you to go to Zankou or better yet, Sevan Chicken instead.