Perfect Roast Chicken
Am I the only person who was under the false impression that making a roast chicken was extremely difficult and wildly time consuming? For years, I was convinced that roasting a chicken (like my more familiar Thanksgiving turkey) was an all day affair. If you jump over the logical gaps involved in that analogy (i.e. the difference between a 20 pound turkey to feed twelve and a 3 pound chicken to feed, um, two) you will quickly discover what I recently did. Roast chicken is a simple, delicious and totally doable weeknight dinner.
When I tell you this is the best roast chicken I have ever had, I am not exaggerating. Succulent, juicy meat that falls off the bone with a perfectly crispy, papery, thin skin you will find it hard to believe that bird came out of your own oven. If I could FedEx you a sample in the mail I would, but you’ll have to take my word for it. This recipe will impress your friends, loved ones will begin requesting it be added to the regular recipe rotation and neighbors will pound on your door begging for an invite to dinner.
It’s hard to believe that such a simple recipe yields such an impressive meal. The key to a great roast chicken is starting with the best possible chicken you can get your hands on. Recently I’ve switched over to using only humanely-raised, pastured chickens. It sounds a little hippy at first, but you can taste the difference! A happy chicken is a tasty chicken!
The second secret to a perfect roast chicken is to dry the bird as much as possible before putting it in the hot, hot, hot oven. You don’t want any extra moisture steaming everything up inside the oven. I use paper towels to pat down the bird and I even stick a bunch inside the cavity to soak up the water inside.
The third secret is to properly truss your chicken. Say what now? Trussing is simply tying the chicken up with cooking twine in a way that keeps the cavity closed and the legs and wings tucked in tight which allows for the most even cooking. I taught myself how to truss a chicken using this video. In fact, I still watching this video every time I’m going to truss a bird as a refresher. Something about it makes me giggle each time.
Finally, you want to thoroughly rain salt all over your bird. This will draw out the moisture initially and give that chicken skin the most perfectly delectable crispy crunch you are looking for. Don’t hold back with the salt. Trust me. Finally, be sure to use fresh thyme. I recently saw an episode with a Food Network chef who told her viewers that she didn’t believe in dried herbs. At the time, I thought that was so snobby and elitist. After trying the dish with and without the fresh thyme, I can honestly tell you that it’s not the same dish with dried herbs. Splurge on the fresh thyme. Use the extra to throw in the mashed white beans you are going to serve along side your perfect roast chicken. The Kitchen Warrior strikes again!
Perfect Roast Chicken
Yield: 1 roast chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50-60 minutes
1 (3 pound) whole chicken (humanely raised if possible!)
Salt and pepper
Fresh thyme, approximately 2 teaspoons
Kitchen string (for trussing the bird)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Rinse the bird with cold water, inside and out. Remove any gibblets packets. Dry the bird with paper towels, inside and out. You want as little extra moisture as possible.
- Salt and pepper the inside the cavity. Truss the bird with kitchen string.
- Place the trussed bird in a roasting pan (on a rack or just sitting in the pan). Rain salt over the entire bird making sure it is entirely covered. Add pepper to taste.
- Place pan in oven and cook for 50-60 minutes (longer for larger birds) until the skin is brown and crispy and the juices run clear. You can check for doneness with an instant read temperature, it should read 160 degrees in the thickest part of the chicken. (Don't worry, the temperature will go up another 5 degrees while it is resting outside the oven.)
- Remove bird from oven. Throw chopped fresh thyme into the pan juices. Using a large spoon or baster, bathe the chicken in the pan juices with the thyme. Once fully bathed, let the chicken sit for 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.
- Remove the wings first, then the legs. Remove the breasts from the breast bone, slice into pieces and enjoy!
Adapted from Thomas Keller's Favorite Simple Roast Chicken