It's a weeknight and after a long day of work, you need to eat but aren't always up for cooking a big meal. I frequently make brined whole roast chicken with lemon and thyme, but I'm always up for doing even less prep work when I'd rather be hanging out on the couch. Tonight, I'm turning to our friends at America's Test Kitchen to take care of the legwork for coming up with the simplest method for roasting the chicken, without sacrificing great flavor.
Preheat a 12" oven safe skillet in a 450 degree oven. Meanwhile, tie the legs of the chicken together with some kitchen twine to promote even cooking. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cover with 1 tablespoon kosher salt + some freshly ground pepper.
When the oven and skillet are heated, place the chicken in the pan. Be very careful, that skillet handle is HOT! I try to remember to leave a towel on the handle so I don't accidentally grab it (I don't want to admit how many times I've done that).
30 minutes at 450 degrees is up. We're halfway there and it's smelling amazing in here. Be sure to keep your oven door closed to trap the heat inside while you are checking the temp. The breast should register around 120. If it's too low, put it back in the oven for a few more minutes. If you are right around 120, turn the oven off and cook the chicken for another 30 minutes (without opening the door).
After another 30 minutes, the breasts should register 160. Rest the chicken on a dry cutting board for 20 minutes.
The sauce is optional, but making it will really enhance the flavors and help keep you busy for a few minutes while the chicken rests. I can get too tempted and start eating pieces of crispy skin (one of the best things ever).
Cook the shallot, garlic and tarragon until softened.
Reduce the sauce on low until ¾ cup remains. Still has a way to go here.
The chicken has rested for 20 minutes, and it's time to carve her up.
All parts cooked through perfectly. The breast meat is nice and juicy
- 1 3 ½ to 4lb whole chicken, giblets discarded and legs tied together
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Pan Sauce (optional):
- 1 shallot chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced tarragon or thyme
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Place an oven safe 12" skillet in the oven and pre-heat to 450 degrees.
- Thoroughly dry the chicken with paper towels. Rub the olive oil on the surfaces of the chicken, then sprinkle with salt and pepper, using your hands to coat evenly.
- Pull the hot skillet out of the oven (carefully) and place chicken in the pan (breast side up). The hot pan will jump start the cooking of the thighs so they finish at the same time as the breasts.
- After 30 minutes, check the temperature of the breasts. When the breasts register around 120 degrees, turn the oven off completely and cook the chicken for 30 minutes more.
- The chicken is finished cooking when the breasts register 160 degrees. Rest the chicken on a dry cutting board for 20 minutes before carving.
- Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan.
- Sauté the shallot, garlic and tarragon until softened.
- Add the dijon and chicken broth, whisking to free the flavor bits that might be stuck to the pan. Simmer on low until ¾ cup remains.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the butter to create an emulsion.
- Add the fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavor.