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THE BIRD IS THE WORD. Sorry, that was intense. I just really get passionate about chicken. A good roast chicken can do everything from make you feel better after a rough day to help woo a potential suitor with some schmaltzy seduction and everything in between. I’m not going to lie, the number one kitchen question I get asked about from concerned cooks is how to master this classic dish. So I’m here to tell you that a perfectly golden chicken is easier than you think! Crack out the butter and let’s break down this bird.
Before I wax poetic about my compound butter that I would gladly use in my skin routine, let’s chat about the chicken. I know spatchcocking is all the rage, but a good trussed chicken always takes the cake for me. A 3½-pound beauty is the ideal size making it acceptable to be devoured by two people or stretched to four with some sides. Once you’ve whipped up this herby-garlicky-lemony butter, rub it under the skin of the breasts and over the skin of the legs—this helps ensure even browning in the oven!
Now comes my three crucial commandments for success. First, don’t overcook it! Temp the chicken with a thermometer inserted into the center of thigh and pull it out of the oven the second it hits 165°F. Then, let it rest! If you carve right away, all the juices will spill out rather than redistributing into the meat. Finally, don’t waste the pan drippings! They’re a literal pool of gold, so use them to wilt greens like in this recipe or stir them into mashed potatoes or save them for future roasting endeavors.
Get ready to become of master of poultry, this recipe is definitely the roast valuable player!
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 teaspoons minced sage
- 2 teaspoons minced rosemary
- 2 teaspoons minced thyme
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/ 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
- 1 (3 1/2 pound) chicken, patted dry with paper towels and sitting at room temperature for about 30 minutes
- 1 small head escarole, roughly torn
- 1 small head radicchio, cored, halved and thinly sliced
- Mashed potatoes, for serving
Preheat oven to 400ºF. In a small bowl, stir butter with sage, rosemary, thyme, lemon zest, salt, pepper and garlic until smooth.
Place chicken on a large cast iron skillet or wide heavy-bottomed braiser. Rub butter liberally under the skin of the breasts and over the skin of the legs and wings. Using a piece of butcher’s twine, tie together legs to truss; tuck wings underneath the breasts. Roast, rotating pan halfway through, until golden brown and an instant read thermometer reads 165ºF when inserted into center of thigh about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and transfer to a cutting board set over a sheet pan to rest for 10 minutes (the sheet pan will keep your counter clean as you carve!). Transfer roasting pan to the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add escarole and radicchio and cook, stirring often, until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt.
Carve chicken, then serve with wilted greens and mashed potatoes, drizzling with juices collected from carving.