Rachael | Set the Table


Welcome to Set the Table! My name is Rachael and I'm here to help you set your table with beautiful, healthy, delicious food your family and friends will love. More importantly, I'm here to encourage you to welcome everyone to your table. Talk. Listen. Laugh. Eat. Be kind. 

Perfect Roast Chicken

Perfect Roast Chicken

Perfect Roast Chicken :: Set the Table
Perfect Roast Chicken :: Set the Table

This is a one pot (or pan, really) meal. I don't do this very often but some days a girl just can't stand to do a sink full of dishes. On that note, if anyone would like to be my dishwasher with food as payment, I'd like to speak with you immediately.

The first time I tried roasting a chicken at home was after paging through Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook. It was a gift from my parents for one of my 20-something birthdays and I was totally enthralled with every page. Once I realized how simple the process was, I became addicted to roasting. I didn't do anything fancy with the exception of occasionally adding some lemon slices under the skin or in the cavity of the chicken. Sometimes, as Keller's recipe instructs, I don't even oil or butter the bird before popping it in the oven.

Dressings for Roast Chicken :: Set the Table
Dressings for Roast Chicken :: Set the Table

This time around, I chose to gather what I've learned from various recipes and from personal experience. I've learned, for example, that if my oven is too hot, the chicken splatters everywhere making a colossal mess.  Also, I've learned that paying attention to the weight of your chicken is extremely important because you will have to add extra time to make sure it gets cooked all the way through. I still kept things simple, adding some fresh herbs from my garden and rubbing the chicken with olive oil then sprinkling it with salt and pepper.

How to Roast a Chicken :: Set the Table
How to Roast a Chicken :: Set the Table

To make this a more complete meal, I added tomatoes and sliced onions (I also like using shallots) to the pan part of the way through cooking time. They get soaked with the juices from the chicken, creating a wonderfully deep flavor. Tossed with some balsamic vinegar, fresh parsley, and pan-toasted croutons, they make an amazing side dish for the chicken.

Tomato & Crouton Salad Ingredients :: Set the Table
Tomato & Crouton Salad Ingredients :: Set the Table
Roasted Tomato & Crouton Salad :: Set the Table
Roasted Tomato & Crouton Salad :: Set the Table

I made this twice this week. Mostly because the first time it was so good that I knew I needed to share it with all of you. It's easy, mostly hands-off, and full of satisfying flavors. If you have 10 minutes to prep, you have plenty of time to make this meal. It's perfect weeknight comfort food.

Perfect Roast Chicken + Bread & Tomato Salad

Yield: 4-6 Servings

  • 4 lb whole chicken
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 tablespoon
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 rosemary sprigs (optional)
  • 5 thyme sprigs (optional)
  • 5 or 6 small-medium tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 a small yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 cups cubed bread (sourdough, ciabatta, and french bread all work well)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 fresh flat leaf parsley (any fresh herb will work)
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons capers


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place a large rimmed pan in the oven and let it heat up for about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and remove any giblets from the cavity (they may not be included, so don't worry if you don't see them).
  4. Rub the chicken with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stuff with the rosemary and thyme.
  5. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and very, very carefully place the chicken in the pan.
  6. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
  7. In the meantime, toss the tomatoes and onions with the remaining olive oil and Herbs de Provence. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  8. After the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes, add the tomatoes and onions to the pan.
  9. Return to the oven and continue cooking another 30-40 minutes. To test for doneness, use an instant read thermometer (it should reach 155-165° F) or carefully tip the chicken so the juices come out of the cavity. If they run clear or golden, the chicken is done; if they are pink, the chicken needs more time.
  10. When the chicken has finished cooking, transfer it to a cutting board and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes before carving.
  11. Remove the tomatoes and onions with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  12. Pour the pan juices into a bowl, leaving about 2 tablespoons of liquid in the pan, and set that aside as well.
  13. Add the bread cubes to the pan over medium heat and cook until toasted evenly on all sides.
  14. Add the tomatoes and onions back to the pan and toss to combine.
  15. Transfer to a large serving bowl and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.
  16. Add the capers, blue cheese, and parsley. Stir gently to combine.
  17. Use a spoon to skim the fat off the top of the pan juices. Stir in the dijon mustard and serve alongside the chicken.


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