I know what you're thinking: "lazy man roast chicken, who's he kidding?" Because, you know, roasting a whole chicken, if done properly, is a bit of a pain. There's the cleaning of the bird, the trussing (if you truss), the seasoning, the clean up, etc. etc. To say nothing about properly cooking the breast meat (i.e. not overcooked) at the same time as properly cooking the legs and thighs (i.e. cooked enough).
Don't kid yourself...it's the same with turkey. I remember a Thanksgiving a few years ago where I actually took the bird out of the oven and carved off the legs and thighs and put them back in the oven to roast some more. People looked at me like I was crazy, but then many claimed it was the juiciest turkey they'd ever had.
But lately I've come across a simple fix...let's call it the lazy man roast chicken. Simply roast the parts, many of which are already available cut-up at your local grocer. Sure, I know it's not the same...but really, other than the presentation, it is. I mean, unless you're telling me chicken thighs don't come from a chicken, it's the same. Now, you won't get to gnaw on the carcass, but I'm willing to bet a lot of you don't do that anyway - it's just me and a few heathens that do. But what you do get to do is pick the parts you like the best...and for me, that's legs and thighs, mostly.
Just like with anything you're cooking, the final "product" is only going to be as good as what you start with...so start with decent chicken, please. Purdue, Foster Farms, and that wan store brand chicken just aren't going to cut it; no matter how much you brine and cajole them, they still taste like cardboard. Fortunately for us, we live in a neighborhood that has a big Jewish and a big Chinese population, so other than the battles of the ancient cultures, some pretty decent chicken can be found.
In Chinatown, of course, you can buy freshly killed poultry, with the head and feet still on. And fresh = good. The weird thing is, my grandmother, who to the best of my knowledge was not Chinese, used to get her whole chickens the same way! She even bought chicken feet, which she used to great effect in her soup and fricassée.
Back to the parts - our local grocery carries Empire, and it's a pretty tasty chicken, so that's what I use. As a matter of fact, their thigh/leg combos cost less than whole birds, so it's practically a bargain. After rinsing the parts well (and disjointing the leg from the thigh), I toss the pieces with some olive oil, salt, pepper and lately I've been throwing in some quartered potatoes, lemon slices and fresh rosemary as well. So here's what you start with...
I've been roasting at around 400 F (your oven is preheated, right?), sometimes with convection, sometimes without...I'm trying to find out the best temp/time situation, but because they're legs and thighs, it takes a lot of work to screw it up. Figure about 50 minutes to an hour, and take the roasting pan out of the oven and give everything a good stir every 15 minutes or so.
The chicken soaks up the lemon and herbs, the potatoes soak up some of the chicken juices, and when it's all done, it looks like this...
Perfect for a midweek, casual meal. And perfectly easy too, especially for you lazy man cooks.