I have always loved roast chicken. Whether its surrounded with root veggies on a cold winter night or shredded and made into chicken salad. It is incredibly versatile and relatively easy to do at home. So when I was creating the first menu for a series of dinner parties Will and I are hosting, I knew roast chicken would be a great place to start. It is a traditional main dish that many can identify with. Instead of winging it as I normally do, I decided to do some research on how to more precisely roast a chicken. As a result I stumbled upon the most dead simple way of roasting a chicken. Enter Thomas Keller’s roast chicken.
No aromatics, no bed of veggies, no stuffing, no butter, no oil, no herbs. No brining or drying in the fridge for several days. Just chicken and salt. Trussing optional. This is not to say that other methods don’t have their place, they do given your preference and situation. But for the sake of getting food on the table, time and saving money (from making, not buying a roast chicken and using/saving the bones for stock), Keller’s method wins hands down.
His method revolves around a hot oven, salt, and a room temp dry whole chicken. You can just as well start with a cold chicken, it will just add 5 or so minutes to your cooking. Keller is an advocate for trussing and as you can see below I did go ahead and truss, but from the research I’ve done I am going to call it optional. I think it is an okay step to omit if time is an issue. Regardless in about 50-60 mins you have a perfect roast chicken. There is a great video of Keller preparing this chicken over on youtube that shows you how to truss and do a few other optional things to prep the chicken.
I also learned that you can roast multiple chickens at the same time and still end up with the same great result. You can find lots of people talking of great success with roasting two chickens at the same time. But what about three? I was preparing a meal for 12 people and didn’t feel like two chickens would cut it. So with a reasonable amount of confidence, I roasted 3 (~5lb each) chickens using Keller’s method, and cooked them for an extra 20 minutes which subsequently ended up over cooking them just a bit. In the end, I ended up with some of the prettiest and tastiest chickens I have ever roasted. You can see the three over on instagram. While most don’t regularly need multiple chickens roasted at the same time, it is nice to have a technique that can produce the same result no matter the number of chickens. This is also great if you do weekly batch cooking or make meals for others.
Normally I would be happy to end the blog post there. You have your roast chicken and can enjoy. But if you are up for getting a little more out of your roast chicken, once carved (or shredded) save the carcass (and any leftover bones if you are so inclined). Now you can do one of two things with it. Either throw it in a medium sized pot, fill it with cold water, add a carrot, onion, and bay leaf (whatever is on hand), bring it to a simmer and simmer for 4-6 hours. Or save the carcass in a gallon plastic bag and throw it in the freezer. I like to stockpile my bones and make a big batch of chicken stock every couple of months. It produces some of the best chicken stock you will ever taste and would make Grandma or Great Grandma proud.
Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken
- 1 whole chicken
- Kosher salt
- Butcher’s twine for trussing (optional)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. The dryer the chicken, the crispier the skin. Salt the cavity of the chicken. Then tuck wings under and truss, if trussing. Watch this video for instructions on how to truss. Liberally salt every inch of the chicken. Pepper as well if you like.
Place in an oven safe skillet/cast iron pan/or roasting pan. For a ~5lb chicken, roast for 50 – 60 minutes. Till the breast reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees. Chickens that are in the smaller 3-4lb range will probably only need 45-50 minutes.
Makes: 1 whole roast chicken.