September 18, 2011

{Easy Recipes} Roast Chicken inspired by Thomas Keller

It's suddenly sweater-weather here in NYC.  And happily, our oven (that broke at the beginning of summer) was finally replaced - just in time for the Fall!  When we got this tasty new chicken, I knew just the right dish to christen our new oven: Roast Chicken - inspired by Thomas Keller.

I used a recipe found in his accessible cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home, as my dinner inspiration. I've made roast chicken before, but I found these Thomas Keller tips to be especially helpful (and you can apply them to your own favorite roast chicken recipe):
  • Dry your chicken before you cook it (1-2 days beforehand). This will help crisp up the skin. How do you dry the chicken? First leave the chicken in the refrigerator uncovered for 1-2 days. Then remove the chicken from the fridge and let stand for 1.5-2 hours so the chicken comes up to room temperature.  I also used paper towels to soak up as much moisture from the outside of the chicken as I could.
  • Learn how to truss a chicken. This helps the chicken to evenly cook. I have to admit, we still have trouble with this and have to keep practicing! (Luckily, that means more roast chicken in our future!)
  • Roasting the chicken on top of your favorite root vegetables makes for tasty, beautiful, easy one-pot meal. The chicken juices add a lovely flavor to the vegetables, which also slightly caramelize in the roasting pan.
  • Put a few pieces of butter on top of the chicken breast to further help to brown/crisp the skin
Here is the rough 'recipe' of our dinner last night. But if you follow the basic directions, you can substitute any of the vegetables and even herbs with ones that you have on hand. 
Roast Chicken with Vegetables (adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home)
Ingredients (serves 4):
 1 whole chicken (ours was this Pollo Buono that weighed 3.54 lbs, but any chicken around 4lbs will do)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
peeled cloves from 1 garlic
dried French thyme (use fresh thyme sprigs if you can)
12 oz baby carrots (sub with 4 peeled and chopped medium carrots)
1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into large chunks (any onion will do)
1 package Satur farms fingerling potatoes (sub with any small potatoes)
1/3 cup canola oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1. Prep chicken as mentioned above (dry it and let it come to room temperature). Preheat the oven to 475 F.
2. My chicken didn't have any innards in it, but if yours does, remove it.
3. Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt, pepper, thyme, and a about 4 large cloves of garlic. Massage the inside of the bird to infuse it with the flavors. Truss the chicken.
4.Fill the bottom of a roasting pan or large cast-iron skillet with the carrots, onions, garlic, and potatoes. Toss with 1/4 cup of the oil and season with salt, pepper, and thyme.

5. Rub the remaining oil over the chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper.
6. Make a nest in the center of the vegetables and nestle the chicken in it. Cut the butter into 4 or 5 pieces and place over the chicken breast.
7. Put the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 F and roast for an additional 45 minutes.  Take the pan out of the oven and let the chicken rest for 20 minutes.
8. If you'd like, reheat the vegetables right before serving and glaze them with the pan juices. I just placed the vegetables on a serving platter and left them in the shut-off oven (that was still warm).
9.Cut the chicken into serving pieces, arrange over the vegetables and serve.

Jeff suggests pairing this chicken dish with one of his favorite beers: Stillwater Artisnal Ale's herbal saison Of Love & Regret. You could also seek out food friendly beers like Stillwater's Stateside Saison, Captain Lawrence Saison or Brewery Ommegang BPA.  We find most saison or farmhouse style beers pair well with poultry. For wine drinkers, a (relatively) dry Riesling or light red (such as Beaujolais) would be a good choice.

As Thomas Keller has said (in a GQ UK interview), "It's very difficult to get the breast done at the same time as the legs - you have to have that tolerance to say, 'The great thing about roasted chicken is the whole thing.'"  I love this weekend dish! It's perfect for just my husband and myself (with tasty leftovers to enjoy the next day) or if we had a couple of guests over for dinner.


  1. christinefreshlocalandbestSeptember 19, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    It's these little steps that make all the difference in a meal. I've dried ducks in the refrigerator, but never chicken. I'm looking forward to trying this recipe!

  2. Great idea! We'll definitely try this technique with duck and turkey the next time we roast them.

  3. Great tips, I never thought of drying chicken before! I've definitely roasted on top of veggies though and sometimes even mixed in some sausage with the veggies for even more flavor.

  4. Thanks Bianca! I like your idea of mixing in sausage with the veggies. By the way, you have a great blog! Thanks for visiting mine!


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