Monday, February 28, 2011

Thomas Keller's Simple Roast Chicken

Posted By on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 8:00 AM

This roast chicken recipe is the easiest thing I've probably ever made, and it's probably one of the tastiest dinners to have ever come out of my oven.

Thomas Keller of the famous restaurant French Laundry in Yountville, CA choses his own roast chicken to be included as part of his "last meal" in the book "My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs And Their Final Meals: Portraits, Interviews, And Recipes."

I can understand why. The chicken comes out with perfectly crisped skin and juicy, flavorful meat.

What's ridiculous is that this roast chicken recipe can't possibly be any easier. You take the chicken, wash it, dry it, truss it (if it's not already trussed), sprinkle it with salt and pepper, throw it in the oven, add some thyme, and voila. Done.

I served it with some sauteed green beans and roasted red potatoes.

Side note: While washing the dishes after dinner, I found my dining companion licking (yes, licking) the chicken-juice-covered cutting board when he thought no one was looking ... I guess the chicken is that good.

click to enlarge IMG_2873
click to enlarge chicken

My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken

Printer-friendly recipe from Epicurious

By Thomas Keller


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 super elegant. 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.

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