The Only Roast Chicken Recipe You Need

Sunday Supper

Forget everything else.  Thomas Keller’s “My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken” recipe so perfect and so simple, to try this once is to have mastered it.  By “raining” salt over the skin, you create a moisture shield in a sense, so the skin gets super crispy but the meat stays incredibly moist.  I made it for Sunday supper, with mixed greens (perfect vinaigrette recipe from Barefoot Contessa) and roast vegetables.  The yams I roasted in a separate pan with olive oil and a little salt.  The carrots and mushrooms I tossed in the pan with the chicken, and after an hour the carrots caramelized into something magical.  I’ve pasted the recipe from below.

photo of Keller's chicken, from

  • One 2- to 3-pound farm-raised chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)
  • Unsalted butter
  • Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it’s a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.

Now, salt the chicken—I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone—I don’t baste it, I don’t add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don’t want. Roast it until it’s done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I’m cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip—until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook’s rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be superelegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You’ll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it’s so good.



Filed under Eating, Entertaining, Home Cook, Superior Foods

6 responses to “The Only Roast Chicken Recipe You Need

  1. Hi, I applaud your blog for informing people, very interesting article, keep up it coming :)

  2. This looks delicious! I’ll have to try it tonight. I have a cooking recipe site as well and I’d like to exchange links with you. Let me know if this is possible. Thanks.

  3. It’s excellent to uncover different suggestions for tasty recipes and also straightforward techniques to cook them. My partner and I made this dish for our dinner at the weekend. Everybody adored it, most definitely I’ll be cooking it often now.

  4. thethoughtherder

    Hey, strictly a comment not a criticism but I dot think you should be rinsing the chicken. It used to be people would do this to clean the meat but as the meat is being roasted to a temperature that will kill food borne bacteria there is no need. Food safety folks now reckon your more likely to spread the bacteria from the chicken onto items that wont be cooked by rinsing it (dripping spraying etc).

    I know its not your recipe but I thought I would point it out!

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