There are four keys to a golden, crisp-skinned, juicy and flavorful chicken: start with a high-quality bird, season it correctly, cook it at a high temperature for the ideal amount of time for its weight and let it rest before you carve it. Save any leftovers for making potpie or chicken soup (see related recipes at left).
- 1 roasting chicken, 4 to 5 lb.
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, plus one 4-inch sprig
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 bushy sprigs
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh sage, plus 1 sprig
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
- 1/2 small yellow onion
- 3 large garlic cloves
Preheat an oven to 425°F. Cut off the chicken’s tail with kitchen scissors. Remove the giblets and reserve for another use or discard, and remove the excess skin and fat from the cavity and neck.
In a small bowl, stir together the chopped rosemary, thyme and sage and the 1/4 cup olive oil and season with pepper. Gently separate the chicken skin from the meat with your fingers, being careful not to tear the skin. Rotate the bird 180 degrees, and loosen the skin above the cavity the same way, reaching in as far as possible to loosen the skin on the tops of the thighs and legs. Slip the herb mixture between the skin and flesh, and rub it evenly over the exposed meat, covering it as much as possible. Pat the skin back into place and tuck the wing tips under.
Season the cavity with the 2 tsp. salt, then stuff with the herb sprigs, onion and garlic, pushing them in as far as they will go. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. (The chicken can be prepared up to this point a day in advance, wrapped well and refrigerated.)
Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt. Place, breast side up, in a roasting pan. Roast the chicken until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced, about 1 hour and 10 minutes (12 to 15 minutes per pound), or a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching bone) registers 165°F. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Family Meals, by Maria Helm Sinskey (Oxmoor House, 2008).