The moment I pulled my first whole roasted bird out of the oven was one of the most empowering culinary moments of my life.
Scratch that. I’d say it was one of the most empowering moments of my life, period.
Realizing that I could take a beautiful, whole animal (just about) straight from the farm and transform it into nourishing, delicious food was truly paradigm-shifting.
I’d done plenty of home cooking up to that point, even a lot of cooking from scratch. But like most of us, I was used to peeling my perfectly pre-cut meat out of tidy, cellophane-wrapped packages. Buying and cooking a whole animal was a totally different…animal.
For most of us in America, the gap between the source of our food and what we see on our plates is large. Preparing that chicken brought me one big step closer to bridging the gap. I felt so proud of my ability to feed myself and grateful for the precious chicken life that had ended for my sake.
Sounds a little dramatic and woo woo, I know. But it’s an experience I think few of us (especially in my generation) have. If you ask me, they should teach this stuff in high school. Forget long division, what could be more important than learning how to feed yourself?
To commemorate that paradigm-shifting chicken and to encourage you to roast one yourself, today I’m sharing the ingenious and incredibly simple recipe that taught me it was possible.
Because of its elegant reveal, people assume this recipe is expensive and difficult, but chicken is just about the most affordable animal protein there is. And believe it or not it’s incredibly simple to prepare. Seriously, YOU CAN DO IT. (If you’re skeptical, check out my article on How to Roast the Perfect Chicken Every Time.)
Written by Thomas Keller, the world-famous chef and owner of The French Laundry, this recipe cooks the bird quickly and at a very high temperature. Doing so creates a forcefield of golden brown skin that locks in the moisture and, of course, tastes delicious.
No stuffing, butter, herbs, or basting liquid here. Keller calls for just three ingredients. And trust me, that’s all you need. Keeping extras to a minimum prevents excess steam from building in the oven and creates the most tender, crispy-skinned chicken you’ve ever had.
So, the next time you’re in need of a confidence boost, pick up a little roaster at Trader Joe’s and go to town. I’m telling you, pulling it out of the oven is better than therapy.
This recipe is only slightly adapted from Thomas Keller’s original recipe.
- 1 3-5 lb. organic, free-range chicken at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp (or more) sea salt or kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
- 3 ft. kitchen twine
- Remove chicken from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, about 45 minutes.
- Measure your salt and pepper into small pinch bowls and set aside. (This way you can season the chicken without sliming up your salt and pepper shakers.)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Reach inside the chicken cavity and remove the bag of giblets (if there is one). The giblets can be discarded or frozen to be used for broth.
- Rinse the chicken inside and out and thoroughly pat it dry with paper towels.
- Generously season with salt and pepper inside and out.
- Truss the chicken with twine. (*See note below if you’re not sure how to do this.)
- Place chicken on a 9 x 12 in. roasting pan or medium-sized oven-proof skillet with the breast and legs pointing upward. Roast on the center rack for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the juices run clear and/or the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
- Remove chicken from oven and let the bird rest for 15 minutes before carving. While you wait, Instagram the heck out of it.
- Once rested, carve the chicken into the breasts, thighs, wings and drumsticks and serve family-style on a platter. Pick any remaining meat off the bones and save it for other meals. Save the carcass in the freezer to use for broth.
- Pat yourself on the back and dig in.
*Trussing might seem like a waste of time if you’ve never done it, but it’s worth the effort. (Trusssssst me.) If you skip this step, hot air will circulate in the chicken cavity and cook the breast meat before the legs and thighs are done. Trussing keeps the cavity closed, holds the wings and legs in tight, and ensures everything will cook evenly.
If you’re not sure how to do it, check out my tips on roasting the perfect chicken. And don’t worry about being perfect!
Never underestimate the power of roast chicken.
What’s your favorite roast chicken method/recipe? I’d love to hear!