Thank you! Thank you very much! Although you can’t see me, I’m blushing from all the applause. Before I take a bow and all the credit for Perfect Roast Chicken, I need to thank the two people responsible for this superb chicken – one for bringing it into my home and the other for creating the recipe.
#1. Thanks to Buzzfeed’s Christine Byrne for her time-consuming research and resulting article, How to Make the Best Roast Chicken of All Time. Christine’s Ultimate Roast Chicken Tournament article inspired me to cook my first-ever roast chicken. Both of her articles are excellent and you just might find a few surprises.
#2. Thanks to Thomas Keller (one the best American chefs of our time) for keeping his recipe, Thomas Keller’s Favorite Simple Roast Chicken, scrumptiously simple. It is THE roast chicken recipe all cooks should have in their repertoire.
With indebtedness out of the way, I will now accept all adulation for this gorgeous bird. After all, I did make one minuscule change in Thomas Keller’s recipe. (Please keep this just between us. I sure don’t want to displease T.K.)
Perfect Roast Chicken served with simple, melted herb butter is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is Perfect Roast Chicken is so easy to make and so mouth-watering perfect, there is no longer a need to purchase rotisserie chicken from your favorite grocer. The curse is exactly the same.
I have championed using precooked, store-bought rotisserie chickens for years. At this moment, in fact, I have the meat from two rotisserie chickens cubed and ready to use. I love it, but I now know I can make chicken taste even better – the type of chicken where true chicken flavor takes center stage and the salt content is controlled.
Let’s take a quick trip around this recipe:
First, wash and dry the chicken, inside and out. Then sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavities and under the wings. Next, it’s time to truss (tying the chicken to keep the legs and wings tucked next to the body so it will cook more evenly) this critter. Cut a piece of twine 3′ long, and position the bird with the breast side up and legs facing you. Place the center of the twine under the tailbone, lift and criss-cross the twine up and over the legs. Now, loop it around the legs, reverse it and pull to tighten the legs together (refer to photos).
Next, hold onto the twine while you flip and turn the chicken so the neck end is now facing you. Tighten the twine across the legs and tie it to keep the legs and wings snug against the body. It sounds trickier than it is – refer to the photos, and if more instruction is needed, numerous videos can be found online. There are many ways to truss a chicken, but this method worked well for me.
The final preparation touches could not be simpler. Liberally season our featherless friend with black pepper and kosher salt then place it on a roasting rack over a foil-lined roasting pan. Cook it until it is golden brown and tender.
Thank you again, Christine Byrne and Thomas Keller, for teaching me all I need to know about roasting Perfect Roast Chicken. A huge thanks to my readers, too, for the ovation. I am a little weary now of bowing and need to stand up – all the blood has rushed to my head and I’m a little dizzy.
For roast chicken with roast vegetables, I’ll try Jaime Oliver’s Perfect Roast Chicken (with roast vegetables) next. It (basically) came in second in the chicken tournament.
- One 2-3 pound farm-raised chicken, or organic chicken with not preservatives, hormones and antibiotic free
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme or fresh rosemary, chopped
- Butter, unsalted
- Preheat oven to 450F and cover a roasting pan with foil.
- Rinse and thoroughly dry chicken with paper towels, inside and out. The goal is to have as little steam as possible.
- Salt and pepper the chicken inside the cavities and under the wings.
- Truss the bird to ensure it cooks evenly, the wings and legs don’t burn and the breasts are semi-covered and will not dry out as quickly.
- Salt and pepper the chicken with a nice, liberal sprinkle. This will result with a crispier and more flavorful skin.
- If using paprika, sprinkle it on now.
- Place prepared chicken, breast side up, in the middle of a roasting rack that has been placed in the roasting pan. Using a roasting rack ensures the chicken will cook evenly and won’t stick to the pan.
- Do not baste the bird or open the oven door until 60 minutes have passed.
- After 60 minutes, test the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh. *See notes
- The chicken is done when internal temperature reads 170-175F. (Note: Thomas Keller states the chicken is done at 165F, but I prefer 175F.) (**Julia Child’s recipe calls for chicken to cook between 170-180F and some other recipes say 180F.) P
- Keep in mind, chicken breasts cook more quickly than thighs.
- Turn off oven, remove chicken from oven and transfer it to a cutting board to rest 15 minutes. Do NOT touch for 15 minutes. Let the chicken rest to allow the juices the chance to soak into the meat instead of ending up on the cutting board.
- While the chicken is resting, remove and discard any gelatinous fat from the roasting pan. Remove the foil, but let the chicken drippings to drip back into the pan. Add ¼ cup unsalted butter and herbs to pan drippings, stir well and place the pan back into the oven to let the herb butter mingle a few minutes.
- After chicken has rested, cut it into serving pieces and serve with the warm herb butter.