When Sam's Club (or your local bulk food supplier) has reduced price stickers all over their "natural" chicken option, pick up a two pack! Cooking a whole chicken rather than buying the pre packaged breasts or thighs is the most budget friendly way to do it. While it doesn't take much time to prepare the chicken to roast, it will take time to thaw, time to sit around salted, and time to cook. To get the most bang for your buck making stock is great too, but again, it'll take a fair amount of time.
If you've never roasted a chicken before, please try it! If it starts to get weird because suddenly you realize that a chicken isn't so different from a person when they're naked and plucked, and you remember that meat was alive once, just throw on some folk music and pretend you're back on the homestead.
cast Iron skillet or roasting pan
Whole Chicken (5lb or less)
4 Sprigs Fresh Herbs (thyme, rosemary, or sage)
Salt + Pepper
1. Defrost your bird. If frozen defrost time in the fridge can range from 24 to 48 hours. Another option is defrosting in cold water, I do this in my sink, with the chicken still in it's packaging of course. The cold water method will take 2 - 3 hours.
2. Remove gizzards. Rinse, inside and out, and pat dry.
3. Insert the fresh herbs sprigs under the birds skin, one over each breast, and then flip the bird and do the same to the legs. To create the opening you can typically just slide your finger between the skin and the meat.
4. Salt, more generously on the areas with more meat. I used 3 tsp for a 5 lb bird, use less or more depending on your chicken size. I've also read 3/4 tsp per a pound is the typical recommendation.
5. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. (if you don't have time to wait, no worries, it'll still taste good)
6. Remove from fridge and let come to roomish temperature for 30 minutes before you begin cooking
7. Preheat oven to 450 (475 if your bird is 3.5 lbs or under, it can take a higher heat and cook faster)
8. Preheat Skillet over Medium heat and pat our chicken dry once more while we wait. If there's too much moisture the bird will steam itself in the oven, and stick to our pan. This is also a good opportunity to tie the legs together, and tuck the wings in (I didn't do either of those things, just because I don't have any kitchen twine on hand right now)
9. Place chicken in skillet breast side up, put in oven. It should sizzle. If it starts to smoke, turn the oven temp down 25 degrees (I had to do this)
10. After 30 minutes carefully flip the bird, cook for another 30 minutes. Flip again and cook for 20 minutes more. (for my bird that was plenty of time, if It's under 3.5 lbs I'd recommend doing 20, 15, 10) Remember Chicken internal temp should be 165 when fully cooked