m. c. de marco: The New Kitchen Cookbook

Roasted Whole Bird


  • 1 whole bird



I roast chicken according to the 1942 Good Housekeeping Cookbook: 50 minutes per pound at 325° (without convection), oiled and covered with cheesecloth (or just the oil, if you don’t mind spattering the whole oven with chicken grease). Cut the time down to 43 minutes per pound for chickens over 4 lbs., and 36 minutes per pound for chickens over 5 lbs.

You’re supposed to use a wire rack in the roasting pan; I sometimes use a broiler pan or nothing instead.


I’ve roasted turkey according to Wegman’s directions: 3 ½ hours at 325° for a 12 lb. turkey, which actually turned out to be 3 ¾ hours for a 12 ¼ lb. turkey, but it was fine. (Other weights are available at the link.) The Good Housekeeping rule is 20 minutes per pound at 300°. Let sit 20–30 minutes before carving. Convection really speeds up the cooking time, so check at least a half an hour earlier if you’re convecting.

I stick a quartered onion in the middle instead of stuffing the bird (add 50 minutes for actual stuffing) or seasoning the hole, but still tie up the legs and tail. You can rub the skin with oil and cover the bird with cheesecloth as for chicken.

To make gravy, toast 2–3 T. flour (or more, depending on the dripping quantity or the availability of broth) in a saucepan. Pour out someplace safe, then strain the oil off the top of the drippings into the pan, heat as necessary, and whisk the flour back in for a minute or two. Add remaining drippings. Add some broth or water to extend the gravy, if desired.


Sometimes you don’t want to wait the entire 50 minutes a pound to cook a chicken. At one of those times, I tried a quick-cooking recipe for a 3 lb. chicken that involved rubbing the chicken with olive oil and encrusting it with an unexpectedly large amount of spices (much more than in their picture), roasting it at 450° for 20 minutes, and then turning it down to 400° for 40 more minutes. There was no rack, and at some point tin foil was necessary to keep the top from burning. Peter liked the crusty effect.

You can also apply the spice mixture to the slow recipe, with or without cheesecloth. The original spice mixture was: 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, ½ tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. paprika. A turkey-chicken style spice mixture is: 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. marjoram, 1 tsp. rosemary, 1 tsp. sage, 2 tsp. garlic powder, and black pepper to taste.

Sometimes you don’t want to heat up or dirty up the oven. At those times, I roast the chicken in a crockpot or Instant Pot instead. Allegedly the former works for a turkey, too, but I’ve never personally seen either a turkey that would fit into a crockpot or a crockpot that would fit a whole turkey.