A whole roasted chicken is so romantic. Not Scottish laird in a kilt and open shirt romantic. Mom and apple pie romantic. It perfumes the house with homeyness. It makes people feel cared for and loved. Chefs, cookbooks, and cooking shows often make statements about roasted chicken being one of the easiest things to make. Some chefs even go so far as to say that if you can’t roast a chicken you can’t cook. I disagree. I consider myself to be pretty savvy in the kitchen, but roasted chicken is one of those dishes I still felt like I never got quite right. UNTIL NOW. I am so excited to tell you about my new favorite method for roasting chicken and the last one you will ever need. It comes from the Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. I don’t have their famed wood fired oven, but using their three principles for roasting chicken I have finally perfected the practice! What are the three principles? 1. Use a small chicken, no bigger than 3 1/2 lbs. 2. Salt the chicken the night before. 3. Cook it at a high temperature. Follow these three rules and you’ll have a perfectly roasted, juicy and succulent chicken every time.
- 1 small chicken
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
Prepare the chicken the night before. Rinse it and pat it with paper towels until it’s completely dry. Slide your finger under the skin on the breasts and thighs to create a pocket. Insert a sprig of thyme into each pocket, one for each breast and one for each thigh. Sprinkle salt all over the chicken inside and out. Place it into a dish, cover it loosely and refrigerate over night. When you’re ready to roast it, remove it from the fridge and pat it dry again, the salt will have drawn the moisture out of the skin so there will be liquid in the pan. Place a shallow roasting pan that’s not too big into the oven and heat it in the oven to 475 degrees. When the oven is good and hot, carefully place the chicken, breast side up into the heated pan. Roast for 20 minutes. Flip the chicken over and roast another 20 minutes. If the fat starts to smoke, lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Roast for a final 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. Enjoy your crisp skin and succulent chicken!