Thomas Keller’s Simple Roasted Chicken
This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It also seems to be one of the entire internet’s favorite recipes, as it is the most viewed chicken recipe on Epicurious.
What makes this recipe so amazing is that it is both incredibly easy and perfectly delicious. The meat, especially with OurHarvest’s Cascun Farm bird, is super juicy and tender and requires little more than salt and pepper. We love making this into a “one pot” meal by adding some vegetables underneath the bird, which are made even more delicious as they cook in the chicken’s drippings.
In this version, we added halved fingerling potatoes and whole garlic cloves, but we have been known to put OurHarvest Summer Squash wedges underneath. I happen to think this is a perfect everyday meal for a busy mom or even one that is perfect on a special occasion when you need to add some simplicity to a crazed holiday cook-a-thon. Just put the chicken in the oven, and then come back a little less than an hour later and voila - a perfectly cooked dinner.
There are 2 tricks to this recipe - trussing correctly and not overcooking. For directions on trussing, watch this video of Thomas Keller walking through the recipe. As an FYI, we usually don’t remove the wishbone. Once the bird is trussed, a simple seasoning of salt, pepper, and a little chopped thyme is all it needs. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure the bird is cooked properly - it should read 165 degrees in the thigh.
My Favorite Simple Roased Chicken Recipe
A recipe by Thomas Keller
One 3.5 – 4.0 pound OutHarvest Pastured Whole Chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Selected vegetables such as squash or potatoes (cut into wedges), carrots, or whole garlic cloves (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil used to lightly coat vegetables (optional)
2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Dry the chicken 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.
If you choose to, add vegetables to the bottom of the roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. Very lightly coat the vegetables in olive oil before seasoning.
Place the chicken in a 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, about 50 - 60 minutes, though the cooking time will depend on the size of the bird. 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. 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.