There is absolutely nothing I like to eat better than a perfectly roasted chicken. And yet, I’m constantly amazed at how many chefs and restaurants fail in the mission to roast a chicken right. Granted, there’s no single method or recipe. I use three or four different recipes and techniques for roasting chickens, depending on my mood.
However, this method is the simplest I know of and provides terrific results in about an hour: A moist, flavorful chicken with an easy-to-make natural sauce. Give it a try!
1 3 ½ to 4 lb. chicken, giblets removed
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 lemon, quartered
1 shallot, peeled and minced
1 cup chicken broth (canned is fine)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
Place a 12-inch cast iron skillet on the middle rack of your oven.
Heat the oven to 450 F. with the skillet in the oven.
Tuck the wing tips under the back of the chicken and tie the legs together.
Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper.
When the oven temperature reaches 450 F., place the chicken breast-side up into the hot skillet. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the breast temperature reaches 120 F.
Place the lemon quarters around the chicken in the skillet. Turn off the oven and leave the chicken in it to continue cooking, until the breast reaches 160 F. and the thighs are 175 F. This should take an additional 15 to 20 minutes – possibly more if your chicken is larger than 4 pounds.
Using oven-proof mitts or potholders, carefully remove the skillet from the oven.
Place the chicken onto a carving board, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, let’s make the sauce: Squeeze the lemon quarters over the skillet to collect the juice.
Over medium heat, add the minced shallot to the skillet and cook until softened, a minute or so.
Whisk in the broth and mustard, scraping up any brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the sauce is reduced to about ¾ cup.
Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in the butter and thyme. Taste for salt and pepper and season, if necessary.
Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce.
Photos by Ted Scheffler