Salt, pepper, and kitchen twine are all you need to make the best roast chicken ever. Simply the best…seriously.
When it comes to roasting a chicken, many people think to achieve delicious flavor you need to add all kinds of things like herbs, lemon, garlic, onion, butter, oil – you name it – I used to think that…used to.
I have tried all kinds of different ways to roast a chicken, and still none have come close to the mouthwatering tender and juicy roast chicken this simple recipe makes…none.
Once you taste Thomas Keller’s famous Simple Roast Chicken you will never want to eat your bird any other way…ever.
There are a few key factors that make this recipe so delicious. Now, you may be thinking – but, it’s just a roast chicken – how hard can it be, and you’re right, it’s not at all, but these few simple things make all the difference in the world when it comes to a perfectly cooked bird or a dried out flavorless one.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
It’s easier to achieve the right internal temperature and doneness without the outside becoming dry with smaller birds in the 2-3 pound range, so when you’re roasting a chicken bigger isn’t better.
First, tempering your bird, which is a fancy chef way of saying bring it to room temperature, is super essential to achieving a moist, evenly cooked bird. Second, roasting at a high temperature of 450° F seals in all the juices and makes the skin nice and crispy. Third, taking your bird out of the oven once it reaches 165° F results in a nice moist and flavorful bird, any more than that, it tends to get dry and less flavorful.
Also, opening your oven to check your bird while it’s cooking will decrease the oven heat and increase your cooking time. So once you put it in the oven, try not to check your chicken until you are fairly certain it’s done.
Starting With a Dry Bird is Essential
Even though it may seem counterintuitive, the more dry the bird is before and while cooking, the more moist it will be once it’s done. I used to be all for basting chickens during and after cooking, and I thought I was doing the right thing until I learned this little trick.
Any excess moisture will create steam and actually make the meat inside drier and rob you of delicious outside crispiness, leaving you with soggy skin since you’re likely basting with not only fat but also liquid.
Simply put, trussing holds the entire chicken together more compactly so that it cooks nice and evenly. To truss your bird follow these 4 steps.
- Cut a 24 inch piece of kitchen twine and lay chicken breast side up with legs facing away from you. Put the center of the twine under the tail (as you can see, I started under the legs this time, but it’s best to start under the tail).
- Cross the ends, then loop back under and around the legs and pull tight to bring the legs together.
- Flip chicken over and bring the twine around the sides, tucking in the wings. Pull the twine tight and tie a knot at the neck.
- Trim excess twine with scissors and ta-da! you’re trussed.
Salt Generously Inside and Out
Don’t be afraid to season your bird with lots of salt, a 4 pound bird can take a tablespoon of salt on the outside. Liberally salting the cavity allows for the flavor to reach the inside meat too. Ever cut into your chicken to find that while it has flavor on the outside, it’s totally bland inside? Simply using a nice amount of salt, and some pepper inside and out, without any other seasonings, gives the chicken tons of flavor.
Time to Rest
Allowing your chicken to “rest” for 15 minutes after you take it out of the oven lets all of the wonderful juices run down into the the meat saturating it with moistness and flavor instead of running out of it.
Simply The Best Roast Chicken Recipe Ever
from Chef Thomas Keller
- one 2-3 lb chicken, organic and free-range if possible
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Remove chicken from refrigerator, take it out of the package and let it come to room temperature for at least 45 minutes
- Preheat oven to 450° F
- Rinse bird and thoroughly dry inside and out with paper towels (very important)
- Generously salt and lighlty pepper cavity, then truss bird
- Generously salt outside of bird, making it “rain” to cover it completely, then add ground pepper
- Place chicken, breast side up in sauté pan or baking dish, and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165° F (check temp by inserting thermometer between the breast and thigh)
- Remove chicken from oven and let rest on cutting board for 15 minutes
- Remove twine, carve, serve and enjoy!
Notes: You can use a roasting rack or place your chicken on a bed of vegetables if you like. Veggies like carrots, parsnips, turnips, onions, potatoes, leeks and celery are wonderful.
When using very coarse salt like pictured above, I rub most of it the chicken off before eating it. I like the texture from a few pieces of salt without being overwhelmed by it. The meat still tastes just as flavorful.
For some reason, my local meat department only seems to stock 5-6 pound birds so I usually roast a 5-6 pound organic, free-range chicken for an hour and it turns out perfect, of course depending on the oven, cooking times can vary.
I incorporate the leftovers into other meals for the rest of the week and freeze the bones to make bone broth later (recipe here).
Have you tried this awesome recipe before? What’s your favorite way to roast a chicken?