I hope the weather is splendid where you are–we’ve got a low of twelve Fahrenheit in the forecast this weekend, and that calls for perfect roast chicken. I didn’t think there was such a thing. Roast chicken is roast chicken, right? I’ve tried loads of different methods. I’ve trussed and left unbound; I’ve shoved a lemon up the bottom; washed, buttered, herbed, and brined. And they all tasted vaguely the same.
Until THIS recipe from Thomas Keller via BuzzFeed. The virtues are many. First, it’s simple. The only real ingredient you need besides a good chicken is salt. The only prep is remembering to haul the chicken out of the fridge about 45 minutes before you want it to go in–not a terrible hardship because you have to preheat that sucker to 450 degrees anyway. Not only are you not supposed to wash this chicken, you must pat it dry. No more spewing chicken juice all over the kitchen! With so little other prep, it seems churlish to complain about having to tie up the legs. If you’re fancy, by all means, truss it properly. I just bind the legs together and fold the wings under the back like the chicken is doing a yoga pose. Then it’s packed in salt, bunged into a very hot oven, and left strictly alone. No basting, no turning, no fussing.
When it’s finished, the resulting chicken is a revelation. The skin is crisp and golden and so tempting, I’ve been known to sneak pieces from under my husband’s carving knife–and I don’t even like chicken skin. The bird itself is moist and flavorful, two things that are difficult to surprisingly difficult to achieve. One last note: the better the chicken you start with, the better the end result. I’ve done this with nasty supermarket chickens and it’s good; I’ve done it with hand-fed organic chickens carried around on little velvet cushions and it’s sublime. Very little effort for maximum payoff–my favorite kind of math.