There is something so simple and satisfying about roasted chicken. It’s such a versatile dish too. It can be a weeknight dinner for 4, a special occasion dat night broken down into courses, or a hands-off entree for entertaining. You can use the leftovers for salads and the bones for stocks and soups.
This recipe has a few different techniques in it, all of which are simple but take some time. Feel free to omit whichever you’d like, but know that it won’t be nearly as good if you do.
Since this recipe is so unbelievably simple, the quality of the chicken matters immensely. Buy the best one you can afford. In LA, we have a butcher shop called Belcampo. They pasture-raise all of their own animals. When they have chickens available, I always go for one. If you are intent on getting one, they offer their products online.
To learn how to truss the bird, click here (there’s a link to a video in that post that I highly recommend, if you don’t want to read the post and would rather skip to the video, here’s the video link).
To learn how to dry-brine the bird, check out my previous blog post.
To see a step-by-step guide on how to roast this chicken from start to finish, here’s the video tutorial.
1 3-3.5 lb chicken
1-2 lbs small waxy potatoes (fingerling or red are best)
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 ea lemon, quartered
2 c chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 Tbl whole grain mustard
1 Tbl unsalted butter
2 Tbl Italian parsley, finely chopped
(Optional) 2 Tbl honey
(Optional) 2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
Step 1: Dry-Brine the chicken (up to 3 days ahead)
Want to make a quick weeknight meal? Do this step on Sunday and it will be ready for Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. If you are going to hold off until hump day, place some cheesecloth over the bird. For those of you who don’t actually read my post and skip straight to the recipe, click here to learn how to easily dry-brine the chicken.
Step 2: Truss the chicken
You can do it like a traditional snob and end up with mushy skin over the dark meat and over-cooked white meat, or you can do it my way (my totally un-biased way). Click here for the written tutorial or, even better, here for the video.
Step 3: Preheat oven to 425 F, prep potatoes and chicken for roasting
Get your oven preheated while you prep the bird.
Add 2 two-finger pinches of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and about 1 Tbl of EVOO to the potatoes. Toss them thoroughly. Really get in there!
Stuff the 4 wedges of lemon into the bird. This will give the meat a delicate citrus aroma. These lemons aren’t for eating (side note: never stuff your bird with stuffing that you plan on eating, it can cause a lot of issues*). Coat every nook and cranny of the bird with EVOO, this should also be about 1 Tbl and will promote browning during cooking.
Get the bird on the center of a sheet tray. Scatter the potatoes around it. If you are using very small potatoes, do this step 15 minutes after the bird has roasted.
Pop the whole thing into the oven and cook initially for 45 minutes.
Step 4 (optional): Make honey glaze
I like to do this step when I have both of the ingredients in my pantry. It adds a very slight tough of sweetness to the dish and promotes browning. You can add as much or as little of this as you like. I usually do it once towards the end of the cooking.
Mix the honey and balsamic with a whisk.
After the bird has cooked for 45 minutes, take it out of the oven and use a pastry brush to gently coat the skin of the bird with the glaze. You should have plenty left over, and a lot of the glaze should not stick to the bird. The glaze that gets onto the pan will add flavor to the potatoes and the fond (the what? stay tuned). Cook for an additional 20-30 minutes.
Step 5: Rest the bird and make the sauce
Belcampo chickens are so clean and pure, I would be comfortable eating them medium-rare. However, we live in America where chickens are infested with bacteria, so I can’t tell you to do that. Most chicken in the States has a ton of salmonella in it. This bacteria is nasty and can make you extremely ill, but also dies in the presence of heat. If you cook the internal temperature of the bird to 165 F for at least 15 seconds, any trace of salmonella should be safely wiped out.
To take the temperature, use a calibrated digital thermometer to measure the thickest part of the breast (make sure you don’t hit the bones on the ribcage or you might get an inaccurate reading).
But Jackson, what if I don’t have a thermometer?? No problem. Here are a few ways to check:
- (Highly Recommended) Cook the bird until it is a deep golden brown. tick a fork into the part of the bird where the thigh meets the ribcage. If the juices run clear, it’s probably done.
- (Recommended) Cook a lot of chicken until you understand what it should look like fully cooked in your oven at the same temperature.
- (Not Recommended but effective) Slice the breast or thigh in half. If it is well done, it’s good to go.
Place the bird on a cutting board and let it rest. If you don’t do this step, when you go to carve the meat, a lot of the natural juices in the chicken will run all over your cutting board, meaning it won’t be in the chicken any longer. DON’T SKIP THIS!
Next, reserve the potatoes and scrape the pan with a flat-bottomed utensil.
All that stuff on the bottom is called the
fonz (aaaaay!) fond. It’s all of the little brown bits on the bottom of the pan after cooking protein, and it’s extremely delicious. Since the bird was dry-brined, there is a lot less juice at the bottom of the pan than you would normally see in a roasted chicken. That means this stuff is very concentrated. Don’t let any of it go to waste.
Place it into a small pot, then add your chicken stock. If you can’t use homemade, store-bought will do, but know that I will be judging you. Bring it to a simmer, then let it reduce for a bout 10 minutes.
Whisk in your mustard, then bring to a simmer. Add the butter. Maintain this simmer and whisk constantly while the butter is melting. Add the parsley, give it a stir, then turn off the heat.
Step 6: Carve the bird and plate
If you don’t know how to carve the bird, I can show you how to do it in a different post or tutorial. I like large slices of breast so there is ample skin on each piece. Plate it however you would like. Don’t be skimpy with the jus.
* #nerdalert: A classic bread stuffing should never be put inside the cavity of a bird (turkey, chicken, duck, turducken, etc). If you’d like to make stuffing, make dressing. It’s the same stuff, just cooked in a separate pan. If you place all that stuffing inside the bird, you’re getting raw poultry all over the bread. As it cooks, that salmonella-laden juice goes throughout the stuffing. So not, instead of cooking the breast to 165 F, you need to cook the stuffing to 165 F. This takes way more time, resulting in a completely overcooked bird.