A great mainstay recipe is a whole roasted chicken. You can easily roast two at once. They take the same amount of time, and you'll have enough for two meals or leftovers. Think salads, soups, wrap sandwiches, tacos and more.
Brine the chickens to make them extra moist and juicy, or marinate one and leave one plain. You can season each one differently.
And if you don't have a plan for the second one, take the meat off the bone and freeze it. It thaws quickly -- and having already cooked and cutup chicken is a timesaver.
I tend to think of Julia Child when I make roasted chicken.
"A well-roasted chicken is the mark of a fine cook," Child wrote in "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" (Knopf, $40), a cookbook she co-authored with famed chef Jacques Pepin. "I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it -- and, more important, I like to give it."
Brining it in a solution of salt, sugar and water lightly seasons the chicken and helps keep it moist during cooking. Brining makes roasting almost foolproof.
Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter is a great starting point if you've never roasted a whole bird. It requires little effort and simple ingredients.
Most recipes tell you to roast the chicken at about 400 degrees for the first 20 minutes and then decrease the heat to get that nicely browned, crisp skin. If the chicken starts getting too brown, cover
Another option is to start roasting at 350 degrees, then increase the temperature during the last 20 minutes. That way, you can judge the doneness more easily and you don't run the risk of the skin getting too dark.
A whole chicken will take about 1 ½ hours to roast. If you need it to cook quicker, you can cut the back out of the chicken (save it for stock) and butterfly (flatten) the chicken. Then serve it with steamed potatoes, lemon-drizzled asparagus, a light salad of field greens and a nice crisp Pinot Grigio.