For years, I've stuck to Jacques Pepin's method for roasting a chicken as my go-to technique.
Per Pepin, it basically involves roasting the whole chicken on one side, and then turning it twice more during the cooking process. The placement of the breast directly against the hot surface of the pan gives the skin awesome color. Not per Pepin, sometimes I slick the pan with olive oil and stuff the cavity with herbs, garlic, and lemon. The whole chicken gets a rub of salt and pepper at the start.
Now that I've tried Rozanne Gold's "Opinonated Way to Roast a Chicken," I'm rethinking my roast chicken ways.
Gold, who details the recipe in her new book, Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease, offers a stripped down method for roasting a chicken:
Even though people lament that "chicken has no taste," I have on occasion been inclined to leave it alone and cook it stark naked (the bird, that is). No salt, even. The result is something that tastes surprisingly like, well . . . chicken; golden and moist.
Think of it as the no-knead bread of roasted chicken: it's completely uncomplicated, yet completely works. There's no oil, no salt, no herbs, no lemon, and no pepper. Just the chicken, cooked at high temperature (475 degrees) for 70 minutes in a small pan.
Similar to Pepin's method, you do flip the bird, but only once, and there's no seasoning whatsoever. Gold recommends using a small pan, preferably a paella pan, which I don't own. Instead, I sued the same large skillet I ordinarily use when making roast chicken a la Pepin. The resulting chicken was moist and tender and perfectly browned all around. At 4.5 pounds, my chicken was a little larger than the one in the recipe, so it required a bit more time in the oven than was called for. Use a thermometer to check for doneness.
Now, I skipped Gold's next step, creating a sauce from the pan drippings (because I wanted to avoid a greasy, spattering mess). But, I did make the garlic chive butter in the recipe. As she indicates, with the addition of some water, the sauce foams up beautifully, and when poured over the chicken, adds the salty, garlicky flavor absent from the actual cooking process. I would definitely make this sauce again for other dishes like roasted or steamed fish.
AN OPINIONATED WAY TO ROAST A CHICKEN
From Rozanne Gold's Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease
Even though people lament that “chicken has no taste,” I have on occasion been inclined to leave it alone and cook it stark naked (the bird, that is). No salt, even. The result is something that tastes surprisingly like, well . . . chicken; golden and moist. Only at the end, after carving, do I simply add salt and pepper to the pan juices, or give it a keen sheen of water-enriched garlic chive butter, whisk until frothy. A small roasting pan, just large enough to hold the chicken is key: I use a small paella pan, but a metal-handled skillet will do.
4-pound roasting chicken
Preheat the oven to 475°F. Wash the chicken; discard the giblets. Dry well. Place breast side down in a small roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over and baste. Roast for 40 minutes longer, until cooked through. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt. Let rest for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to the pan juices and boil 2 minutes. Carve the chicken and serve with pan juices or butter sauce.
GARLIC-CHIVE BUTTER SAUCE
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh chives
1 small garlic clove, very finely minced
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the chives, garlic, 3 tablespoons water, and salt. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Pour over chicken.
Recipe reprinted with permission from the publisher.