Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Favorite Roast Chicken Recipe (I made it even simpler) Much has been said of the Thomas Keller’s Favorite Roast Chicken, and it is truly delicious. The original recipe calls for other items like mustard, thyme etc. And they are good. BUT many times I just want a very basic (but tasty) roast chicken. As I usually cook for just one or two, making something that can be adapted in leftovers is very helpful—hence the salt and pepper only version here.
Basic But Delicious Roast Chicken
- 1 pastured chicken 2.5-4lbs
- 1 sea salt Details below
- 1 black pepper fresh ground of course
- 2.5-3 feet baking twine optional but recommended
- Preheat the oven to 450 Degrees Fahrenheit.
- Contrary to recent PSAs, I do "rinse my chicken" but should also share that "roast chicken day" is the same day as "let's bleach out the sink/countertop" day. In other words, before preparing to rinse and dry the chicken, I remove any extraneous items from the sink/countertop etc. I use low water pressure to keep potential chicken-water splashes to an absolute minimum. AND I also make sure to have the paper towels I'll use to dry the chicken already off the roll and readily accessible. A dishtowel that is destined for the wash is handy too. And wash your hands, wash your hands wash your hands. After the chicken is in the oven, I wash/bleach the entire countertop and sink, including/especially the faucet handles!
- Depending on how your chicken was processed, it may or may not have a little bag of innards inside. Go ahead and peek in there and make sure. Hope you aren't skeeved out by looking inside a chicken! It's weird, but I think it's a good thing to confront the realities of food and where meat comes from—it sure makes buying ethically raised, pastured, premium priced meats that much easier... You also need to make sure that there aren't any lingering organs inside - again depending on how your chicken was processed. Rinse out the cavity too.
- The next step is VERY important. Dry the chicken inside and out. Yes, stick your hand down in that chicken with some paper towels... the weirdness is worth it, I promise. The more dry you can get the chicken the better. If it is too damp in there and on the outside, then steaming occurs and we'll miss out on that crunchy delicious crispy pasture-raised skin. And since this was quite the premium priced bird, there's no reason to waste ANYTHING on it. I never liked eating chicken wings until I started roasting chicken at home...
- Now that the chicken is dry, shake some sea salt into the cavity, I sometimes use as much as 1/2 tablespoon, and will gently shake it around in there before shaking or wiping out the excess.
- I actually use a big old cast iron skillet as a roasting pan for this recipe, but you can use any sort of appropriately sized baking dish or pan. Make sure the sides are at least as high as a cake pan as there's going to be some very hot oil and drippings involved.
- Place the chicken in your pan so that the legs/breast side is up. the "chicken back" is facing down.
- If you have some baking twine, take a piece that's about 2.5-3 feet long (err on the side of too much, twine is cheap and its easy enough to trim). Find the center of your piece of twine and put this under the chicken (towards the top, you can even have it right under where the neck was, or if there's a nubbin left there, use it!). Bring the two ends of the twine across the top of the chicken, about 3/4 of the way down, being sure to catch the wings in. Some people will prefer to cook the wings on the bottom,but I find they get less crispy and more greasy that way. I tie a surgeon's knot at the 3/4 way down part of the chicken breasts, maintaining some tension, after the knot is tied, I make sure the wing tips are tucked in (otherwise they can burn). From there, cross the ends of the chicken legs one over the other and tie together with another surgeon's knot. When it's all secure, trim the ends of the twine close to the chicken. Again, it's not required to truss the chicken, BUT It does cook more evenly, and it looks really nice. Also found that it made for slightly easier portioning later.
- At this point, season the chicken by sprinkling the outside with sea salt and pepper. Possibly just a little more than you "think" it needs. And roast for 50-60 minutes depending on your oven*, and the size of your chicken. I have found that larger chickens will sometimes take as long as 80 minutes to reach safe temperatures. The dark meat will cook a little quicker, so you want to make sure to take the temperature of the white meat too. It should reach an internal temperature of 165 Degrees Fahrenheit for safety's sake. Haven't had any issues with the chicken drying out, thanks to that delicious crispy yummy skin.
- After removing from the oven I let the chicken sit for a little bit so the juices settle before carving it up. Sometimes a lot of it is eaten right off the cutting board! The wings always are... with the excuse given that they do not reheat so well.
- As for leftovers, should you have any... I always quarter the chicken before putting it up, so there's portions ready to go. They're really good reheated in the oven in a small dish of precooked sweet potato mash. I also like to dice cold cooked chicken and make an easy version of the old school Russian classic Salad Olivier (usually minus the potatoes). Once I added 1/4 chicken, chopped into large pieces into a vegetable soup I was making—and that was really great! Amusingly enough, you'll probably find that this chicken tastes so good you might eat it cold right out of the refrigerator too.