Roast chicken isn’t a recipe. It’s a method.Print
- One 3– to 5- pound pastured chicken
- 2 big handfuls of small potatoes, like fingerlings or baby new potatoes or 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 8 or 9 whole cloves of garlic
- 1 medium red or yellow onion, halved and sliced
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1/2 bunch fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup meat stock
- 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Make the chicken: Preheat a roasting pan in a 400 F oven, Let the chicken come to room temperature while the oven preheats. Make sure the cavity of the chicken is empty; reserve any bits and pieces inside for making stock later.
- Put the potatoes, 6 cloves of the garlic, the onion, carrot, and parsnip in the roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper.
- Rinse the chicken thoroughly, inside and out, then pat it dry inside and out. Rub 1 tablespoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper in the chicken’s cavity. Shove the lemon, 2 or 3 cloves garlic, and a few whole sprigs of thyme into the cavity.
- Truss the chicken by brining a length of kitchen twine from behind the chicken’s back, then cross it in a figure eight around the ends of the drumsticks. Pull the twine ends together to bring the drumsticks over the top of the cavity and cross the chicken’s ankles. Tie the twine tightlyt o hold the legs in place.
- Rub 1 to 2 tablespoons more salt onto the chicken’s skin — front and back, and be sure to get in the crevices at the hips and under the wings. Grind pepper all over the bird and sprinkle it with some thyme leaves. Tuck the chicken’s wingtips under its shulders, as if it had its “hands” behind its head.
- Lay the chicken breast-up on the vegetables. Roast for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and roast for another 15 minutes. Flip the brid over and roast for 20 minutes to cook the underside, then flip back to breast side up and roast for another 20 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Give the pan a toss every time you flip the bird to keep the vegetables from sticking.
- When the juices run clear, move the chicken to a cutting board and scoop the vegetables into a large serving bowl. Let the chicken rest, uncovered, while you make the jus.
- The vegetables will have soaked up most of the chicken’s drippings, so set the roasting pan over two burners over medium-low heat. Pour in 1/2 cup stock and deglaze the pan by scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom. Stir in the mustard and thyme. Taste, adjust the seasonings, and remove from heat.
- Carve the chicken: First, remove the trussing twine and separate the thighs and drumsticks from the body at the hip by carving smoothly through the hip joint. Then carve down either side of the breastbone, all the way to the rib cage. Carve along the arc of the rib cage and cut through the shoulder joint to detach the breast.
- Now take a minute for yourself. Flip the chicken over and pop the “oysters” out of the chicken’s back and eat them right away. The gamey, sweet, metachickeny oysters, by the way, are little meats globes positioned about where kidneys would be on a human on the chicken’s lower back, about parallel to the thigh joints. They will yield to your fingertip. After you’ve savored the oysters, follow suit with the pope’s nose, a lovely bit of mostly fat at the tail stump that should be one or two bites of perfectly salty crispy chicken-ness.
- Serve each person a quarter of the chicken with a healthy dose of the mustard jus, a good heap fo the chicken-roasted vegetables, and a side salad to make you feel virtuous.