Thomas Keller's Favorite Simple Roast Chicken
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Bastille Day: Thomas Keller’s Favorite Simple Roast Chicken

Thomas Keller's Favorite Simple Roast Chicken

This is another recipe that I’ve been wanting to try out for a while now. Boy oh boy did this turn out perfectly! Of course, having a convection oven really helps me out (I don’t have to worry if I overcook it a bit – it stays nice and juicy anyway). The skin was golden and crispy, and the chicken was insanely moist. The flavors are simple and just go to show that less can really be more. The addition of Dijon was beautiful with this – Dino and I were both a little skeptical about it, but it was the perfect accompaniment to the chicken. This was awesome, and very easy to prepare. And let’s just say that I have a photo of Dino gnawing every last bit of meat off of the chicken carcass as proof of how good it was (but I’ll be nice and keep it to myself…for now!).

Thomas Keller's Favorite Simple Roast Chicken

My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken
Epicurious October 2004
Thomas Keller

yield: Makes 2 to 4 servings

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 superelegant. 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.

Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.


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