Roasted chicken is a staple dish at our house. In the colder months of the year I have been known to keep it on heavy rotation – sometimes preparing it weekly. And after many years of basting, slathering in butter, stuffing with lemons, garlic, and herbs, I finally feel that I have settled on a foolproof method, all thanks to the genius that is Thomas Keller.
Thomas Keller (in case you don’t know…how could you not know? ) is the chef and owner of per se in NYC, The French Laundry and ad hoc in Napa Valley, and Bouchon in Las Vegas. I have yet to visit any of his wonderful restaurants, but someday, I tell you. Someday I will sit down to dine and be in food heaven.
Despite his many accolades, Keller seems to me to be a regular guy who just wants to make good food. And his roast chicken is no joke. I have been using his method (with a tweak or two) for some time now, and I promise, if you follow it, you will not be sorry. It will be the juiciest, crispiest, and most delicious roasted chicken you’ve ever eaten.
Thomas Keller’s Outstanding Roasted Chicken
One 3 1/2 to 4 pound chicken
Freshly cracked black pepper
Any combination of root vegetables (whatever you have on hand)
– I used Brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots, garlic, and onion
Preheat oven to 450ºF
Set the chicken out and let it come to room temperature. This may take 45 minutes, but is important for even cooking. Also, dry the chicken (inside and out) with paper towels and let rest on a plate or silicone cutting board.
If you’d like, you can remove the wishbone by scraping the flesh away from the bone, running your fingers around it and separating the cartilage from the breastbone. It takes a little bit of practice, but the benefit is not having to cut around the wishbone when you carve your chicken.
Meanwhile, chop vegetables, put in roasting pan and toss well with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
When the chicken is dry and has come to room temperature, salt and pepper the cavity and then truss chicken with butcher’s twine. If you’re unfamiliar with how to truss, either watch this awesome video, or just take a shortcut and tie the legs together. Tuck the wings under the bird.
On cutting board or plate, generously salt the outside of the chicken on all sides. When I say generously, I mean make it rain on that bird. Take a big pinch of kosher salt, hold your hand about 18 inches above the chicken, and let it go. Don’t be shy. The salt will ensure a gorgeous color as well as a moist bird.
After you’re done salting, grind some black pepper on the chicken and sprinkle a little fresh thyme on top. Place the chicken on the vegetables in the roasting pan and place pan in middle of oven. Let roast for 50-55 minutes until the top is browned and the juices run clear when flesh at the thigh is pierced. Depending on the size of your chicken, you may need to alter the cooking time. As long as the thigh meat registers at a minimum temperature of 165ºF on an instant-read thermometer, you’re good.
Take the roasting pan out of the oven and place the chicken on a cutting board. Tent the chicken loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. At this point, you can cover your vegetables with foil and pour yourself another glass of wine.
After the resting time has elapsed, remove your butcher’s twine, carve, and serve with roasted vegetables and a little bit of Dijon mustard on the side.