Serve up a simple, juicy masterpiece crusted with herbs.
There is, quite simply, no more perfect dinner than roast chicken, especially one with lots of chicken-friendly herbs like thyme, sage, parsley, and rosemary. Warm and homey, impressive yet uncomplicated, roast chicken works as Sunday dinner with guests, or as a make-ahead midweek meal.
Yet something about making a whole roast chicken can intimidate people. But that is only because it looks like a big deal; not because it is actually hard. In fact, it is downright easy. Herbes de Provence may sound, well, foreign (because it is), but it is simply a widely-available dried herb blend featuring some combination of thyme, marjoram, rosemary, fennel seed, lavender, and savory available at almost any grocery store.
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This recipe — like all good roast chicken recipes — should be prepared between eight and (ideally) 24 to 48 hours in advance. This preparation is almost entirely about the brine: allowing salt to penetrate deep into the meat. This dries out the skin, which will make it nice and crispy brown. Meanwhile, brining makes the meat tender and flavorful. It also means that your work is already finished by the time you’re ready to put it in the oven.
Salt, pepper, olive oil, and a liberal sprinkling of fresh herbs and herbes de Provence are all you need. The herbs are optional; salt and pepper alone makes a great roast chicken. But the herbes de Provence create something woodsy and well-rounded.
How do you make roast chicken? Tell us in the comments, below.
Roast Chicken With Lots of Herbs
- 1 5 lb. whole roasting chicken, preferably air chilled, giblets and neck removed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 rounded tablespoon Kosher salt
- 12 turns freshly-ground pepper (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
- 1/2 bunch fresh, flat-leaf parsley, bottom half of the stems removed
- Remove any giblets and the neck from inside the chicken, if included, and pat the chicken nice and dry with a few paper towels, inside and out.
- Place the chicken in a greased or parchment-lined casserole pan, and drizzle with olive oil. Spread the olive oil over the entire chicken using your fingers or pastry brush.
- Generously sprinkle the salt over the entire chicken, top and bottom -- especially the breast and legs. Nestle the chicken breast-side up in the casserole. Add the pepper and herbes de Provence. NOTE: This may seem like an egregious amount of salt. It is not. By brining over eight to 48 hours time, the salt will soak into and distribute throughout the entire bird, and not just stay on the surface. Put the entire casserole into the refrigerator, uncovered, and let brine for a minimum of eight hours, preferably between 24 and 48 hours. (Make sure the chicken doesn't come into contact with any other food.)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. You have the option here to put the chicken directly on a bed of root vegetables, such as thick-sliced onions, carrots, potatoes, and so on. They will cook along with the chicken perfectly.When the oven is fully heated, roast the chicken, uncovered, on the center rack for approximately 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the dense meat on the side of the breast next to the thigh tests 162°F and the juices are clear.PRO TIP: Poultry should be cooked to 165°F. I remove the chicken at 162°; the temperature will continue to rise a few degrees even once the chicken is removed from the oven because of carryover cooking. Cook's Illustrated has a great article on carryover cooking.
- Remove from the oven, loosely tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes so the juices settle into the meat. Spoon some of the pan juices over the chicken. Serve immediately, adding more pan juices as desired.