Saturday, January 28, 2012

Easy Roast Chicken

Few things in life are as delicious as a roast chicken. I like it best in it's simplest form...just chicken, olive oil, salt and pepper. That such an incredibly rich flavor and such juicy meat can be created from such simple ingredients gives me great pleasure. It gives my family great pleasure as well...everyone loves this simple dish.

A short while ago, I posted a 1966 recipe by Ann Seranne for prime rib ( That recipe has proven to be one of the most popular postings of all-time. I believe the reason for that is the recipe's simplicity. Crank the oven to 500ยบ and put in the roast. Turn off the oven and let the roast sit. That's it. Done.

That very same methodology applies to this roast chicken recipe. Heat a skillet in the oven to 450 degrees. Drop the chicken on the skillet and close the oven. After 35 minutes, turn the oven off and let the chicken sit for another 35 minutes. That's it.

The reason for using a skillet is that the thighs are in direct contact with the heat of the metal. The thighs take the longest to cook and this method makes certain they are cooked all the way through. You must use a skillet...a roasting rack will not work for this recipe. While any skillet will do, I would recommend cast iron for its heat retaining properties. And using a skillet makes it easy to create a pan sauce, if you so desire (see bottom of page for recipe).

This recipe is from Cook's Illustrated and serves four. If you would like to subscribe to Cook's Illustrated, go here:

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position, place 12-inch ovensafe skillet on rack and heat oven to 450 degrees. 
  2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Rub entire surface with oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over chicken.
  3. Transfer chicken, breast side up, to preheated skillet in oven. Roast chicken for 35 minutes. Turn off oven and leave chicken in oven for 35 minutes more.
  4. Transfer chicken to carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Carve chicken and serve.

Wine pairing: If you prefer white wine, I would recommend an oaky Chardonnay. Red wine lovers should pair this with a Pinot Noir.

Simple Pan Sauce
Remove chicken from skillet. Put skillet on burner with heat turned to medium high. Add one cup of chicken stock. Scrape the pan with a spoon to dissolve all fond. Reduce stock by half. When the reduction becomes syrupy, remove from heat. Add one tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper to taste. 

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