MY FAVORITE ROAST CHICKEN

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IN A NECESSARY IF NOT RELIGIOUS FINALE, YOU ARE GOING TO PICK THROUGH EVERY LAST SNIPPETS OF OFFERINGS ADHERING TO THE REMAINING CARCASS

Hello friends.  This is my favorite roast chicken.

If you were previously convinced that you know roast chicken, or how to do one right, well to that I say, I’m convinced that you don’t.  This is a recipe forged through years of corrections, beginning from the inspiration of Thomas Keller’s roast chicken doused in thyme and garlic butter, and manipulated by my own techniques through experience, then re-polished through a vinegar bath anew.  The chicken is not only accompanied by baby potatoes and garlics roasted inside its own grease, but – yes, I’m not done yet – but it has to, has to, be eaten with a runny sunny-side up.  That’s right.  Chicken and egg, I don’t know why you have to ask.   This is now a roast chicken recipe, with its entirety, a simple elegant yet unbeatably tasty form of perfection, worthy of the ones who are willing to receive it justly.

Because, equally important to the recipe, there’s only a single, correct way to eat this chicken, or any roast chicken for that matter.  One cannot claim to have had a proper roast chicken, if it wasn’t done this way.  That is, you have to devour it with your absolute bare hands.

Assisted with a kitchen-scissor if needed, or not, I command you to tear apart this chicken from limb to limb with at least 8 of your best-able fingers.  Undeterred by the occasional burns and shimmering under a coat of grease, your hands and your hands only, are the tool that’s going to snap the bones, tear through the flesh, pick up the crispy skin, pry the roasted garlics out from their husks, then sauce and mop everything up inside a puddle of thyme/garlic browned butter and runny yolks, and deliver them to the promised land.  Then with ferocious enthusiasm, in a necessary if not religious finale, you’re going to pick through every last snippets of offerings adhering to the remaining carcass, the untold secrets of muscles around the neck, the films of meat in between the ribs, the skins along the back-bone and the twin crown-jewels of oysters… oh God oh God the oysters…  Tell me you know where the fuck the oysters are, chicken-eaters!

Then at last, breath out, and let your rampant emotions settle.  Use your remaining clean pinkies to wipe the grease off of your cheeks then lick them. Take a sip of water, then bow out.

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MY FAVORITE ROAST CHICKEN

Serving Size: 2

The roast chicken and thyme/garlic browned butter is large based on Thomas Keller. The use of vinegar as marinate is from this month's issue of Bon Appetit.

Ingredients

  • One 3 lbs (1500 grams) good quality, free-range chicken
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) rice vinegar
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
  • 12 baby potatoes, or fingerling potatoes
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 sunny-side up eggs with runny yolks
  • Coarse sea salt to serve
  • THYME AND GARLIC BROWNED BUTTER:
  • 4 tbsp (57 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 grated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper (not black)

Instructions

  1. Rinse/Clean well and make sure the cavity of the chicken is clean from any organs or blood clogs, then gently pat dry. Pour the rice vinegar evenly over the skin as well as the cavity of the chicken and distribute well with your hands. Let sit for 10 min, then discard any excess vinegar but do not rinse the chicken. Set the chicken on a baking-rack over a baking-sheet, then season it inside-out generously with good amount of fine sea salt and black pepper. Don't be stingy. Let sit for another 20 min to marinate and air-dry slightly. Now preheat the oven at 465F/240C.
  2. Use a toothpick to sew the skins around the opening of the cavity together, as well as the skins around the opening of the neck. This is important! It creates a sealed skin-suit that keeps the juice and moisture inside, and prevents the meat from drying out. I think this is more important than trussing/tying the chicken. Now twist/tuck the wing tip underneath itself, and tie the legs of the chicken together. Do this if you want a "classic roast chicken" look, but honestly I don't find it necessary. It actually prevents the skins of the inner thighs from crisping properly. So your call.
  3. In the baking-sheet where the chicken is going to be baked on, scatter baby potatoes (cut large ones in 1/2) and 1 head of garlic that's cut across from the middle (cut-side facing down), and season with salt'n pepper. Place the baking-rack with the chicken on top, WITH THE BREAST-SIDE FACING DOWN first. Roast the chicken on the middle-lower rack for 15 min, then turn it over with the breast-side up, and roast for another 20 min until golden and crispy all around. If your chicken is bigger, say 4 lbs, you may need 10 min more. In the last 10 min, if your chicken is browning too slowly or too quickly, turn the temperature up or down by 50F/10C to adjust.
  4. (*NOTE* Roasting breast-side down first is not typical, but I find that in home-ovens, the heat is usually the most intense from above, browning and drying the breasts that's facing up, way too quickly than the legs that are facing the sides. By baking the chicken breast-side down first, it give the legs a head-start, as well as giving you a more evenly browned chicken all around.)
  5. TO MAKE THE THYME/GARLIC BROWNED BUTTER: While the chicken's roasting, heat unsalted butter in a sauce pot over medium-high heat until it's about to brown, approx 3 min. Add the fresh thyme leaves, which should pop immediately in the hot butter. Once the popping starts to subside, turn off heat, then add the grated garlic and ground white pepper. Stir quickly to cook the garlic in the residual heat, then set aside.
  6. Once chicken's properly roasted, gently transfer it to a serving dish, and pour the thyme/garlic browned butter all over the chicken. Let rest for 10 min. Remove the roasted potatoes/garlic from the chicken-grease, and scatter around the chicken (save the grease! fantastic on vegetables!). To serve, remove the toothpicks and kitchen-strings. The juice from the cavity should run out into the dish, and gets mixed with the thyme/garlic butter. Assisted with a kitchen-scissor, start dismembering the chicken with your bare hands. Drizzle the butter/juice all over the pieces and the runny eggs (*avoid the crispy skins so they stay crispy!*), then eat with your hands and mop everything up... the yolks, the butter and juice, the meat and crispy skins... with great enthusiasm. Then pick the bones clean.

Notes

If you are willing to spend the time, you can brine the chicken with a pure-salt brine, then skip the salt in the first step.

http://ladyandpups.com/2015/05/02/my-favorite-roast-chicken/

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29 Comments

  • No, not water at the end of such a feast. White wine, nothing fancy, just plain white wine. Cuts through the grease and lets all those lovely lingering tastes dance around for a while longer.

  • Looks amazing… will definitely make. Sunday roast (or bbq in summer) is a go-to most times for the delicious leftovers that go into lunches for the week (and carcasses get saved for stock).

    And, oh, the oysters are the first thing I pluck off of my chicken or turkey… never make it to the table… most succulent part of the bird!

    Stumbled across your excellent site a short while ago :)

  • Even at those high temps, I have a hard time believing that a 3-lb chicken would roast that quickly. I’ll follow the technique and ingredients, but I’ll also have my handy-dandy food thermometer at the ready. Good rule of thumb is 20 min per pound.

    • Hi Mom2two, my chicken was 2.9 lbs (weighted when it was frozen though) and it was cooked through in 35 min. Surprised me as well… I do think most roast chickens are actually overcooked, but of course, it doesn’t hurt to be careful. Be careful with a thermometer in a roasting chicken, because it may cause the juice to run unstoppably through the hole!

  • I love your blog and your writing. FANTASTIC photos and just awesome descriptions. Can’t wait until I get all my kitchen stuff back after this transitory year in Baltimore so I can actually have an arsenal to cook with. Excited to read more!

  • Really good roast chicken is just as good as any dry aged steak. Especially if you factor in chicken grease potatoes. I’m still working on my ideal recipe but starting off with Jean George’s perfect roast chicken – it uses kombu! And ahhh tell me you’ve had the roast chicken at Nomad in NY. Entirely too expensive but it has truffle and foie under the super crispy skin and then tear the dark meat into a creamy confit. Amazing.

  • Eating it with a runny egg is genius (and oh so poetic). I’ll mirror Jess’ comment regarding my own dinner plan inferiority – tonight will likely be a very classy meal of pickles, half a PB&J, boiled egg, and raw bell pepper (unsliced, because that takes effort – so I just eat them like an apple), with a handful of chocolate chips for dessert. I’m also aware that armed with those same ingredients, you’d likely make something freaking delicious (and fully expect that next week I’ll see a post to that effect) :p

  • Well another remarkable meal you have given to all! Not a bit leftover and the sauce , well let’s just say I drank it and my fingers cleaned the pan pretty damn good!

  • Hi Mandy,
    I made this the other night – wow! I’m not sure I can ever eat roasted chicken again without a fried egg. There is just something so great about browned butter and fresh herbs. I have used sage and rosemary before and it makes any dish magical. My chicken was closer to five lbs. so I had leftovers. I made a chicken salad and stuffed it in tomatoes and heated up the leftover potatoes on the side. Two great dinners. This is a keeper, fo sho!

  • I made this today because I saw the recipe on Friday (!!!!!!!!!!) and I went slightly insane over the sheer genius of it. RUNNY YOLKS? ON CHICKEN? Both absurd and genius! The Dada elements to it angered and intrigued me.

    Now I have gained about five inches of girth as I ate half a three pound chicken and two runny eggs by my lonesome, and I still occasionally waddle over to the kitchen, a full hour later, stomach whimpering “no more” while I pick chicken off the sad leftovers.

    This has ruined me.

    Thank you.

  • Hmmm. I’m going to make this tomorrow, but instead of potatoes I’m going to serve it (and the egg) on top of a pile of crispy pan-fried white beans & greens. It may be a bit much for bare hands so I’ll probably use a shov…spoon.

  • Made this yesterday as a going away dinner for my boyfriend who is leaving tow for a couple of weeks. We both found it absolutely lovely! (He is unfortunately one of those weird garlic haters, so I left it out, but it still turned out amazing.)

    Becoming absolutely addicted to this blog, by the way.

  • 读到背部向上和这么高的烤制温度时,我当真心跳快了好几拍——我也是这么干的!!!虽然觉得自己根本够不上能够写作食谱的资格,但烤鸡的确是我非常在意而又略有心得的一道菜。唯一在网上写过的一篇食谱就是烤鸡。http://www.douban.com/note/485854173/
    现在很好奇这个刷醋水的方子,下次烤了再来汇报。

  • Mandy, do you think this recipe/technique would also work for a Thanksgiving turkey (with stuffing)? If there are changes to be made, what would you recommend?

    • Andrea, the cooking temperature and time will change considerably. But if you are referring to the vinegar, sewing up the skins and garlic/thyme butter, then I don’t see why not :)

  • no matter how many times i reread this i dont understand if the chicken is roasting on sheet itself with the potatoes, on the rack above the sheet with the potatoes on the sheet getting the drippings, or the chicken and potatoes and garlic all on the wrack on top of the backing sheet. does this make sense?

    • Joy, haha ok ok, place the chicken on a baking-rack, then place the potatoes and garlics in a sheet-pan that fits the baking-rack (the rack and pan usually come in a set), then place the backing-rack WITH the chicken on top OVER/ON TOP the sheet-pan. The chicken doesn’t touch the potatoes underneath, but the dripping will drip through the baking-rack, down into the potatoes. does this help?

  • YUM. I am a huge fan of Thomas Keller’s roast chicken and your changes seem like they could only be improvements. The eggs are new to me though it does seem like a great idea, perhaps in lieu of the gravy I usually make. The fat sputtering inside the oven is always a bit of an issue for me but I feel that the potatoes might absorb some of that? In any case, a must-try. Thanks!

  • So I used to stand by Zuni Cafe’s 3-day salted roast chicken that’s also roasted with the thighs up first and now I’m only going to roast my chickens your way. As great as Zuni Cafe’s chicken was, it was more time consuming and troublesome but no better than yours–even. . . dare I say, not as good as yours? I mean, Zuni’s chicken is still respectable but it’s only almost as good as a TK + Mandy Lee chicken.
    I’m feeling a little glum because I’m suffering a mild food coma but also because I keep commenting to tell you how great your recipes are and it seems very fangirly and ridiculous and (I hope only) borderline creepy. But, Mandy, you NEED to know how much awesomeness your work brings to kitchens all over the world!
    Roast chicken is one of my favorite things to cook and your straightforward recipe takes any anxiety out while making sure it’s still sock-rockingly delicious. The breast meat was succulent and the thyme and garlic butter complemented the chicken and potatoes without distracting.
    My parents laughed when I brought the fried eggs out to the table because it seemed so unusual to eat with roast chicken but cut to 15 minutes later and my father was reaching for the only bread-y carb we had in the house, which ended up being a blueberry bagel, to wipe the last of the buttery, chickeny egg yolk from his plate. Who’s laughing NOW, Dad???????
    Uh. . . I’m fine. . . And full and happy. Great chicken!

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