Look at that beautiful bird!
It might surprise some of you to know that I don’t have any problem admitting when I am wrong.
I like being right well enough, but if someone has a better idea or a better way or convinces me to try something new or different, I’m all for it. Bring it on.
So, if you remember when I declared that Smothered Chicken was the best roast chicken ever, I may have been slightly wrong because Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken is so ridiculously easy and so ridiculously juicy and so ridiculously good that I am hard pressed not to change my Best Roast Chicken vote in its favor.
This recipe came to me last year when my friend Roz sent me a link to a great “Tournament” on Buzzfeed for the Best Roast Chicken Recipe. They did a Final Four Style tournament with all the heavy hitters like Julia Child and Martha Stewart. After all was said and done, Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken came out on top.
I made it then but wasn’t totally convinced at the time. However, my friend Cody tried the recipe and raved and raved and raved and raved about about it and proceeded to launch a campaign to get me to reconsider. There were photos…many, many photos…
So I tried it again and I’m here to say what Cody, Buzzfeed, and the internets have known all along…
THOMAS KELLER’S ROAST CHICKEN IS BEST ROAST CHICKEN EVER!
And, it couldn’t be easier!
Here’s what you need:
Whole Chicken, Salt & Pepper. Optional but highly recommended are chicken broth and some fresh herbs like thyme and/or rosemary.
Mr. Keller suggests butter (yes, butter) and Dijon mustard for serving with the chicken. Mr. Keller is correct.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Yes, that is extremely hot but that’s what makes this bird so good.
That is also what will totally smoke out your kitchen if your oven is not completely & pristinely clean. Even with a clean oven, you will still have a fair amount of smoke but is this chicken worth it? YES IT IS!
First you need a nice chicken. Sometimes they call them roasters and sometimes they call them fryers. The only difference is size so buy the best looking bird you can find. Mine is about 4 pounds.
Be sure to take any innards out of the cavity of the chicken…sometimes the neck is in there too.
Rinse the bird if that’s your thing (the science keeps changing on that one…I’m a rinser but I’m also a clean-out-my-sink-er too) and pat it dry INSIDE and OUT.
Drying the bird is essential to having crisp skin.
You will also need a roasting pan, a rack if you have one, and some clean cooking string for trussing.
Speaking of trussing, I don’t really do it.
I know, I know…I own the Julia Child instructional video but I don’t have a trussing needle.
So, I present to you my Half Assed Trussing Method which works just fine.
Take 3 toothpicks and stick them through the skin to close up the cavity of the chicken. Then tie the legs together with some kitchen string to hold the chicken in shape and also protect the breast meat.
Perfect? No. Workable and easy? You bet!
Here is the important part:
Season the chicken with freshly ground black pepper then sprinkle it ALL OVER with good salt. I use sea salt. Kosher salt would also be a good option.
Thomas Keller suggests letting the salt “rain” over the bird…about 1 Tablespoon of salt total.
As you know, I am not a big salter however the salt here is essential to a crisp skin and a moist bird. I think not using enough salt is why my first attempt at cooking chicken this way was not so successful.
After you’ve seasoned your bird on all sides, place it in a roasting pan (on a rack if you have one) and tuck the tips of the wings under the breast so they don’t pop out and burn.
Roast the chicken for 50-60 minutes until it is gorgeous golden brown.
If you don’t want to set off your smoke detector, keep that oven door closed and don’t peek!
Use an instant read thermometer to be sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly. An internal temp of 160º and being sure any juices that come out run clear should do the trick.
Move your chicken to a sheet pan or platter then add ½ cup of chicken broth to the roasting pan and use a spoon to scrape up any browned bits.
I put my roasting pan directly on a burner of my stove over medium heat and scrape away.
At this point, you can also add 2 teaspoons of minced fresh herbs like thyme and/or rosemary to the pan.
Spoon the pan drippings over the resting bird to baste it.
Allow the bird to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
I don’t have the best carving skills but who cares when your chicken tastes this good!
I was skeptical about serving this with butter and Dijon but they take this chicken totally over the top.
You know that I am a gravy person, but honestly, a little butter on chicken is a GENIUS idea.
Thank you Thomas Keller for your most simple and amazing roast chicken recipe. I’m a believer!
Here’s the recipe: