One thing that really separates good cooks from not-so-good, is the ability to roast a chicken properly. You’d be surprised how many professional chefs and cooks can’t. It’s deceptively easy, but cooking the meat – especially the breast – so it’s tender and juicy while also creating a beautiful, crispy skin requires attention to detail and technique.
This is one of my favorite roast chicken recipes, based on the way New Orleans restaurateur/chef Donald Link (Herbsaint, Cochon, Pêche, Cochon Butcher, Calcasieu, La Boulangerie, Gianna) ) does it, which he in turn learned from San Francisco chef Traci des Jardin (Jardiniere). Give it a try; it might just become your go-to roast chicken recipe.
- 1 whole 3 ½ to 4 lb. chicken
- 1 small lemon
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 whole onion, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rounds
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
- Slice six very thin slices of lemon and put the rest inside the cavity of the chicken, along with the stems from the basil.
- Lay out the basil leaves. On each one put a slice of lemon and a slice of garlic.
- Season the chicken generously with the salt, pepper and paprika.
- Loosen the skin of the chicken by running your fingers under the skin of the breasts.
- Pick up the basil leaves one at a time and slide them, three on each side, under the skin: one toward the neck, one toward the rear on top of the breast, and one under the skin where the leg and breast meet.
- Arrange the sliced onions in one layer on a roasting pan.
- Place the chicken breast side up on top of the onions and drizzle the olive oil over the top of the chicken. Place the chicken in the oven and cook for 35 minutes. If the skin has not colored nicely after 35 minutes, raise the heat to 425 degrees and let it cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, transfer it to a plate, cover with foil, and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes; this will allow all the juices to settle.
- While the chicken is resting, make a jus from the roasting pan. Start by pouring the grease into a bowl. Place the roasting pan with the onions still in it over medium-high heat. Pour in the white wine and gently scrape the bits of the pan to deglaze. When the wine has reduced by half, pour the onion and wine mixture into a smaller saucepan and add the chicken stock. Let this simmer for 5 minutes or until it reduces by about one-third, and then pour the pan drippings back into the sauce with the butter. Stir and keep warm until serving with the carved chicken.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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