Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken

Roast chicken is one of the most eternally beloved dishes on planet earth.  It evokes warmth, comfort, full flavor, cozy dinners with family and friends.  It is easy to think it was always so, way back two million years ago when fire was discovered; logic imagines that not long after the discovery, something yummy was roasting over the flames, bringing warmth and flavor to the hearth.

Today the French are the maestros of roast chicken, from market cooks who baste their birds on the spit, stirring the potatoes and onions below that are bathed with savory juices, to starred chefs who sear, season, and serve exquisite renditions which have been carefully roasted over flame or in an oven.

chicken and shallots

A gorgeous roast chicken – or any sort of poultry – is easy to produce, the French way.  Let’s get started.

 

whole chicken
fhphoto

 

Basically, you need two things: the best chicken (from a local farm…) and a good, hot oven.

Make sure your bird is at room temperature so it will roast more easily than if it were cold.   Don’t worry!  A bird will not putrefy by being left at room temperature for an hour or two!

You can simply salt and pepper the cavity of the bird, truss it so it roasts evenly, and put it in a hot oven.  But, there are some fine point which will make it even better.  I like to season between the skin and the meat to add subtle flavor.  To do this, loosen the skin carefully, making sure your sharp fingernails or even a finger don’t poke through, and gently push your fingers all along the breast meat and onto the legs and thighs.  If you want to add richness, rub softened butter, olive oil, coconut oil, goose or duck fat all over the meat.  Then, slide in some fresh herbs or other seasonings., and pat the skin back onto the meat.

Remove the giblets from the bird, then season the cavity with salt and pepper. Return the giblets, add a quartered lemon, a half an orange or lime, a couple of bay leaves.  Tie up the chicken so the legs and the wings hug the carcass.

Set the bird in a pan (if you have a roasting rack, use it), and pour water or wine around the bird to a depth of about 1-1/2 inches (3.75cm).

Place the bird on the center rack of a very hot oven and roast it for an hour.  You can turn it on each side for 15 minutes if you like, and you can even turn it upside down for 15 minutes, then right it for the final 15 minutes.  Ten minutes before you remove the bird from the oven, pour 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar over it.

 

roasted chicken out of the oven

When the chicken is golden and crisp, remove it from the oven, transfer it to a cutting board that catches juices, setting it upside down. Leave it for from 20 to 40 minutes.  Carve, serve, enjoy!

Tips:  You do not have to pour liquid around the bird, but it helps if you want yummy juices to pour over it.  You can also surround the bird with quartered onions and potatoes, carrots, halved shallots, a few bay leaves.  Season these.  OR, if you’ve got day old but otherwise delicious bread, cut it in 2-inch (5cm) chunks, rub each chunk with garlic and put around the chicken halfway through roasting.

Particularly delicious herbs for poultry: fresh bay leaves, tarragon, sage, savory, basil leaves

For a 4 pound (2kg) bird in a 450F oven, 1 hour is the ideal time.  Turning the bird is ideal, but not vital. Nor is the vinegar at the end, though it assures a crisp exterior and it brightens up the juices.

When you’ve finished caring, remove the citrus from the cavity and squeeze it over the bird, using tongs so you don’t burn your hands.  Remember the giblets! There is always someone at the table who loves them.

Print Recipe
ROAST CHICKEN WITH CITRUS - POULET ROTI AUX AGRUMES
Chicken is sumptuous no matter how it is prepared, though roasting is one of my favorite ways to prepare it. I always stuff it with several lemon halves, and usually an orange as well, then use those, once the chicken is roasted to squeeze over all the golden pieces - it is extraordinary!
Course plat du jour
Cuisine French
Keyword butter, chicken
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 20-40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • One 3 to 4 pound; 1.5-2kg farm-raised chicken whole, giblets removed,,
  • at room temperature
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon cut in quarters
  • 1 small orange cut in quarters
  • 3 bay leaves (Laurus nobilis)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Course plat du jour
Cuisine French
Keyword butter, chicken
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 20-40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • One 3 to 4 pound; 1.5-2kg farm-raised chicken whole, giblets removed,,
  • at room temperature
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon cut in quarters
  • 1 small orange cut in quarters
  • 3 bay leaves (Laurus nobilis)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF (230ºC).
  2. Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, then stuff it with the citrus fruit and the giblets. Place one bay leaf inside the chicken.
  3. Loosen the skin from the meat of the chicken and, reaching carefully under the skin, rub the meat with the butter. Slip the bay leaves under the skin, atop the butter. Truss the chicken.
  4. Roast the chicken until it is golden and cooked through, for about 1 hour. About 15 minutes before removing the chicken from the oven, pour the vinegar over the chicken. To test for doneness, pierce the thigh joint with a sharp knife - the juices should run clear.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven and sprinkle it lightly with salt. Turn it on its breast-side, angled so the feet are above the head end, and let it rest for at least 20 minutes. Remove the citrus from the cavity of the chicken.
  6. Cut the chicken into serving pieces. Squeeze the lemons and the orange over the chicken and serve.
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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. marcia freed

    Your first recipe for Roast Chicken does not specify the oven temp. Yes, I also roast at 450 for one hour , 15 min per each side then 20 min back side up and about 10 min breast side up. Learned this from NYT decades ago recipe. I also brine before roasting all chickens I roast. and do not add water to the pan which would act as steam. I also have used ATK technique of using 1 tabl baking powder on the skin to enhance the browning of the very dry skin of the chicken.

    1. Susan

      Marcia – you are an expert chicken roaster! Thanks so much for all of these wonderful tips!

  2. sue

    when you roast at such a high temperature what happens to the cartilage (leg and wing knuckles) ? I roast low and slow at abt 250, I love the way the sinew and cartilage get all melty and lend flavor. Does this happen at 425?

    1. Susan

      Sue, I wouldn’t say they get “melty” but they add flavor; the high temperature helps keep the juices inside the bird, and makes the skin crisp. Give it a try and let me know.

  3. Kristie Mortimer

    Hi Susan!!
    I have never replied to a blog before, but wanted to share that we had this tonight around our busy dinner table with four children and there was a line for seconds 😆 I’m not an expert chicken roaster and really appreciated the tip of flipping over the chicken for 20 minutes while it rested. It was honestly the most moist white chicken meat we’ve made at home! Success!!
    We miss you and pretended you were around our dinner table tonight!
    Love Kristie Mortimer and family

    1. Susan

      Kristie! What a beautiful image, thank you so much. And I’m honored that my blog was the first one you ever replied to!!! I miss you too, all of you.

  4. Cathy

    Nothing like a perfectly cooked chicken. My mouth is watering.

    1. Susan

      I think this is my favorite dish!

  5. Kameela

    Oh Susan you had me salivating 😀. Roast chicken is my favourite dish. And yes it has to be be a farm chicken I stuff some garlic cloves into the cavity as well as citrus l add the potatoes and shallots halfway through to get that fondant texture. My friend gave me a bottle of sel de vin rouge for Xmas and I use it on almost every dish. I sprinkle this 15 minutes before it’s done. Just a green salad and some crisp sauvignon. Heaven.

    1. Susan

      kameela, that sounds so good and yes, it’s thesimplest way to get to heaven!

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