Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thomas Keller's Simple Roast Chicken

Roast chickens go down either one of two ways in my oven - Thomas Keller's beautifully simple, high heat route, or low & slow. Keller's method perfectly crisps up the chicken skin and produces moist meat and pure roast chickeny flavor; my low & slow method is used whenever I want to slather the bird with a thick, tasty marinade that would otherwise burn at high temps. Although I keep meaning to try the Zuni method, I'm perfectly satisfied with roasting chickens by either of these ways 'til the end of time.

(If I'm being honest though, I ultimately prefer Keller's method. The skin. The skin!!!)

Here's a great video of Keller walking through the preparation, although I have added some detail below that I think is necessary for those not working with fancypants Viking ranges, say. Still not sure how he's able to plop the chicken directly onto the root veggies and not get a sad, soggy bottom. However, the vegetables are a necessity - don't skip 'em - because the drippings will smoke you out of your kitchen if there isn't something sponging them up.  I say this from personal (cough) experience.

Thomas Keller's Simple Roast Chicken
Makes about 3 servings

*1 3-4 lb chicken (preferably organic)
*Good amounts of S&P
*A couple sprigs of thyme, leaves minced
*4ish cups of cubed root vegetables, tossed with a little olive oil (perennial favorites are parsnips, carrots & potatoes)

Rinse the chicken, cut off excess fat around the cavity region if necessary, and then dry the bird very, very well, inside and out. I go through tons of paper towels in an effort to get it as dry as possible, much to my chagrin, but it's worth it. Let it sit out of the fridge for about an hour while it continues to dry, to temper the meat. Sprinkle salt and pepper into the cavity and then truss it up (see the video for Keller's little trussin' lesson). Liberally sprinkle kosher salt and pepper over the chicken. Do note, I use a liberal amount by my salt-sensitive-palate-standards, which is substantially less than Keller puts on his, so if your eyes widened while watching all that sodium rain down in the video, feel free to ease up just a touch, too. Sprinkle the thyme over the bird as well.

Line a roasting pan (use one with a rack) with nonstick foil if you don't want to be scraping blackened bits at the sink all night, and then add the cubed root veggies in an even layer in the bottom. Place the chicken on the rack and pop it in the oven for 60-65 minutes, approximately. When the chicken is done, cut the taut skin between the legs and tilt the bird over the pan to let the accumulated juices stream out, and then rest it on a cutting board while spooning the juicy, caramelized vegetables onto plates. Carve that sucker up after about 10 minutes of resting time (I admit, I never make it quite that long) and then arrange chicken pieces over the vegetables.


  1. Yeah, I had the same personal (cough) experience with this recipe.

    I keep coming back to Marcella Hazan's Roast Chicken With Lemons, though. It's a classic for a reason.


    1. That -does- sound delicious (and equally, beautifully simple). Also, I've yet to roast a chicken starting breast-side down, so I will definitely be trying her recipe/technique. Thanks for the recommendation!