Simple Roast Chicken

You may have noticed that I disappeared for a bit. I’m sorry, I’ve missed you, too. Unfortunately the only thing I was cooking was dry toast because I had the dreaded H1N1 flu. But the good news is that after 10 or so days, I’m feeling much more human and much less swiney. I’m not one to blow things out of proportion, but if you can get a vaccine, do it! That was one brutal bout.

Anyway. When you start to see the light at the end of your diseased tunnel, that first meal back in the real world is pivotal to your continued healing. I was craving something  with plenty of medicinal qualities, but that tasted very un-Nyquil-like. I needed some seriously delicious eats that would practically cook itself. So I turned to my favorite brain-less dinner: roast chicken.

I think that a good roast chicken recipe is one of the most important tools you can have in your kitchen tool box. It’s cheap enough to feed a family for under $10, fancy enough to serve to company, and versatile enough to leave you with a few nights’ worth of leftover possibilities. This is my go-to recipe, and last week when I was finally feeling like eating anything at all, this hit the spot.

I picked up this roast chicken recipe from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook. Keller is probably the best-known American Chef in the world at the moment, and I love that this recipe shows that you don’t need fancy tricks to make great food; it’s about as simple as they come. If you can, spend the money on a better chicken – preferably organic and from your farmer’s market – this is a recipe where the ingredients really shine. Typically a smaller (and hence younger and more tender) bird is best for roast chicken, but I’ve cooked 6-pound+ chickens with this method with moist and juicy results that have everyone standing around the bird well after dinner is over, picking off little morsels and gobbling them up. If you’re just cooking for two, consider a bigger bird and stock the fridge with leftovers. Tomorrow I’ll post my favorite week night recipe for Leftover Chicken Pot Pie, and believe me – you’ll want to have some chicken on hand so you can make it, too.

While I certainly hope that you won’t need a roast chicken to revive you from a swine flu coma, the holidays are right around the corner, and we all need a quick dinner recipe up our sleeves. So this roast chicken recipe is my early-holiday gift to you.  And when you’re all done, bag up the carcass and stick it in the freezer for another day when your stock reserves have dried up. (If you’ve never made stock before, here’s my top-pick stock recipe.) Enjoy!

Simple Roast Chicken

Click here to print this recipe.
from: Bouchon by Thomas Keller
Serves: depends on chicken size, ~1 lb of chicken per person
Takes: 50 – 90 minutes, depending on bird size

1 chicken, 2 – 6 pounds depending on number of people you’re serving
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 450. High heat is the key to this recipe, so make sure your oven temperature is accurate. Also, a dirty oven will smoke at this temperature, so be sure to have the vent on when you open the door.

Remove any giblets, rinse the chicken well inside and out.

Dry the chicken well with paper towels, inside and out. Any water on the chicken will turn to steam, and the less the chicken steams the better – you want a dry heat.

Salt and pepper the cavity and truss the bird. (Here’s a great Alton Brown video on how to truss a bird.)

Salt the outside of the chicken with about 1 tablespoon kosher salt – rain the salt over the bird so there’s a uniform coating of salt resulting in a crispy, salty skin. (It will seem like a lot, that’s okay!)

Place the chicken in a roasting pan and place in the oven. A remote internal thermometer is a real help with this recipe, then you can leave the chicken alone until it’s done. Roast until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 160 degrees.

Remove from the oven and place the chicken on a cutting board. Lightly tent with foil and rest for 15 minutes. If you’ve used a probe thermometer, don’t pull it out yet – the juices will run out of the hole left by the probe. Wait until the chicken is done resting, then remove.

Remove the twine and serve. The original recipe said to slather the chicken with butter and serve with mustard, but I’ve never needed it!

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