Provençal Roast Chicken

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 65 minutes
Servings: 4

Simple, honest cooking is the hallmark of French bistros, and a roast chicken with deeply browned skin and tender, juicy meat is a wonderful example. Here we put a Provençal spin on the bird by seasoning it with favorite ingredients of the region, including garlic, lemon and lots of fresh thyme. Accompany with a bowl of crispy frites, just like you’d enjoy in a cozy neighborhood bistro.


  • 1 chicken, about 4 lb. (2 kg)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 lemons, halved lengthwise
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 garlic heads, top 1/2 inch (12 mm) cut off
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt for sprinkling


Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C).

Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken generously with kosher salt and pepper. Place the chicken on your work surface, breast side up, and place a long piece of kitchen twine under the wings. Bring the twine together across the breasts, then cross to form an X. Carefully turn the chicken over and tie the twine into a tight bow. Fill the cavity with the thyme, 2 of the lemon halves and 2 of the bay leaves. Tie the legs together with another piece of twine.

Put the chicken, breast side up, in a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish. Surround with the garlic heads and the remaining lemon halves and bay leaves. Drizzle the chicken and garlic with the olive oil.

Roast the chicken for 40 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C). Continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, away from the bone, registers 165°F (74°C), about 25 minutes more.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve the chicken and arrange the pieces on a serving platter. Sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt. Serve with the garlic heads, lemons and the juices from the baking dish. Serves 4.

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