There is nothing more satisfying for a cook than being able to put a perfectly roasted crispy skinned chicken on the table which always pleases no matter how often you serve it. And of course every cook has their very own recipe that they rely on for consistent results.
That said, the driving desire to please can get you sidetracked with preparations that are overly complicated and labor intensive. There really is no need to go through the motions of marinating, brining, bathing with oils, tucking butter under the skin, or having to wrestle with turning the bird midway through roasting. The real secret to a perfectly roasted chicken is simplicity of method; minimal seasoning, intense dry heat, and timing. That’s all there is to it.
Thomas Keller’s roasted chicken recipe is a case in point. It has enjoyed enormous attention recently in the media and garnered rapturous accolades from home cooks. The recipe’s success is in its message. Cooking needn’t be complicated to produce perfect results. Roasting with intense heat has been around since the neolithic age with spit roasting over an open fire or buried in a wood fired pit. As life became more domesticated the idea of contained roasting took hold like the clay tandoori oven, the wood fired adobe oven, brick ovens, and eventually the modern day ovens that we rely on today. So why buck the age old dry roasting method that delivers a perfectly juicy crisp skinned roasted chicken time and time again. It practically cooks itself without a lot of fuss.
Roasted Chicken Serves 4
- 1 whole chicken (2 kg/4.5 lbs, approximately)
- flaked salt; Maldon or kosher
- freshly ground pepper
Equipment: large roasting pan with rack
Truss the whole chicken or cut the backbone out of the chicken (spatchcocked) as I have done. Spatchcocked splayed chicken will roast a little faster than a whole chicken and is easier to portion when serving. In either case bring the chicken to room temperature before seasoning and roasting.
Preheat oven to 240c/465f with the oven rack placed in the center of the oven
Line the roasting pan with foil including the sides of the pan. This will make cleanup easy. Place a roasting rack in the pan and set aside.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and salt the cavity, or underside if splayed. Shower the entire surface the chicken with salt and season with pepper.
Place the seasoned chicken on the rack in the roasting pan and transfer to the preheated oven. Roast for 45 minutes and check the chicken. The skin should be very crisp and nicely browned. If you find the chicken is getting too brown place a sheet of foil loosely over the chicken. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the chicken. Return the chicken to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes if needed.
Remove from the oven, loosely cover with a sheet of foil, and let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before serving.
For variety’s sake I sometimes like to glaze the chicken as pictured.
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ to 1 teaspoon finely ground dried red hot chile
- pinch of dried marjoram
Place the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a non-reactive saucepan. Heat over low heat and swirl the pan until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Set aside to cool.
Five minutes before the chicken is finished roasting, remove it from the oven and brush the glaze over the entire surface of the chicken. Return to the oven and roast for 5 minutes. The glaze will melt onto the surface of the chicken and color slightly. Remove the chicken from the oven, cover loosely with a sheet of foil and set aside to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.