Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Salt-Roasted Chicken – Tastes Like Chicken

There's no mystery why “Chicken” is one of the most popular recipe searches ever. Everyone loves chicken, but it’s easy to get tired of, so we're always on the lookout for new things to try. 

The problem is we get so tied up in adding things, that we forget how amazing roast chicken can be when we take things away…like everything, except a very generous dusting of kosher salt. 

When you prep a chicken like this, and roast it in a very hot oven, the bird has no choice but to cook and crisp up in its own juices, which results in very moist, flavorful meat. Thomas Keller, who helped popularize this minimalist method, argues that cooking the thighs/legs as quickly as possible in a very hot oven prevents the breasts from drying out, and I tend to agree. 

Of course, no matter how juicy and chickeny your chicken tastes, it can only get better garnished with a little spoonful of thyme butter sauce. I wanted to remind everyone how simple it is to make these quick, butter-based pan sauces. If you know how to make one, you know how to make a thousand. 

The important thing to remember is that any time there’s a pan sitting around crusted with caramelized meat drippings, you’re always only three minutes away from a world-class sauce. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for four portions:
1 big chicken, about 3 1/2 to 4 pounds
lots of kosher salt (coat the entire surface of the bird, inside and out, with the salt, being extra generous on the breasts)
– Roast at 450 F. for 50-60 minutes
For the sauce:
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup chicken broth (plus all extra juices from rested chicken plate)
2 tbsp cold butter cut in 4 pieces
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne, to taste
(Note: I’m totally guessing at measurements here, since you kind of just splash stuff in. Use the force.)


Les Hilton said...

G'day CJ.
Snipping off the Parson's Nose would be considered Sacrilegious in the 50's,living in U.K.
I still remember fighting amongst siblings to see who got the Prized Morsel. [There was Food Rationing following WW2 which meant that all Edible Parts, of even A Humble Chicken, were never wasted.
Brilliant Recipe as usual, John. And I'll be preparing this exactly as portrayed....

Scott Barber said...

How about a link to the red pepper ragu? Yummie!

Jason Smith said...

Okay.... So, how do you make the ragu???

Bear said...

Looks great, and really simple. Sometimes, simple is just better.

May I assume that the recipe for the roasted red pepper and bean ragout will follow soon? ;-)

Robert Richmond said...

I suspect we can infer the bean and pepper ragu:

Sautee some onion and celery and peppers in a little butter

Add some cumin, salt, pepper, broth.

Add beans, simmer until tender. A little diced tomatos might work, or some quartered cherry tomatos.

Finish with some flat-leaf parsley.

Donald said...

I use the same method, but I put the bird and pan in the fridge for 4-5 hours. Skin gets even crispier and it's sort of a 'dry' brine.

Exercise Tracker said...

Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up: do you think the same technique would work with a similarly sized turkey breast?

BBQChick said...

My aunt made a thanksgiving turkey a few years back that was outstanding. I asked what she did to it, she said just buttered the skin and put on a "ton" of course sea salt. Its my go too way of roasting turkey and chicken now.

Sandra from Montreal said...

That sounds fantastic! And I, too, would love your recipe for the ragu. Thanks!

Vitamin Jay said...

Look fantastic as always. What adjustments might/may be needed if I only have a half chicken?

Had my crystal ball been working, I wouldn't have cut the bird in half... :D

Joe Owen said...

I agree with Les Hilton (we call it the Pope's Nose over here), that little nugget is the chef's treat prior to carving, love that little morsel! And while I did not go to culinary school, I did cook professionally for 15 years and can vouch there is no discernable (not saying your wrong, just not noticable) gland giving off flavors (as glands can do), try it some time John, you'll never go back (and it still gets cut off, just eaten by you!).

Chris K. said...

I use this method all the time. A couple notes:

1. No need to tie the legs! More crispy skin and faster cooking time.

2. Try stuffing the cavity with half a lemon and a few springs of thyme. There will be minimal steam and lots of added flavor.

3. Buy the highest-quality chicken you can. This is by far my favorite method for roasting pasture-raised birds.

4. Freeze the carcass and use it later for stock.

Ms Lemon of Make Mine Lemon said...

I love watching your videos, you make it look so easy. Even though I have roasted a hundred birds I always learn something from you. Thank you.

Mark Anderson said...

Great post, chef. Put me down for the ragu.

Julie said...

So glad you mentioned taking the bird out of the refrigerator so it's not super cold before the oven. That must be why I always struggle to get mine cooked properly. Thank you, Chef! Loved seeing how you made that pretty sauce, too. Look forward to trying this out soon. (A side note: Your videos always make me happy! Thank so much!)

1Bigg_ER said...

Salt-roasted chicken, here I was thinking that the salt will supply the energy to roast the bird.
LOL! Ok, you will do the jokes

Abduallatif said...

I don't know why this recipe is this good.
So today i tired to make two chickens with 2 different recipe to compare the results because "I was little skeptical".
the first recipe was chicken with yoghurt an spices and the other one was as described above and the results was surprising everyone enjoyed Chef John recipe more the other one"as expected".
maybe next time i will try to add Saffron to the recipe and see\the results.
Thank you so much Chef john for the amazing recipe and for work.

Hugo Taljaard said...

Hi Chef, I made this, it was amazing, Im gana make this for my family on X-mas. I made some recipe videos before, and its lots of work. Thank you for the time and research you put in, I think Im your biggest fan, 1st thing I do every day when I open youtube is go and look for a new video on Foodwishes. Wish you could post a video everyday, but i do understand that's not possible. Keep up the great work. Ps: You should sell T-Shirts and stuff, You'll sell plenty.

Marcus May said...

At first I thought it was like the video where you cooked shrimp on a big hunk of salt. I guess it would be hard to find some chicken-sized salt.

Sonja Lund said...

Since I live alone and have smaller kitchen gear, how might I adjust this recipe for a Cornish hen?

Chef John said...

It will work, just cook less time! I'd have to test to give you a time, so use a thermometer to check internal temp!

Shawn Donovan said...

I'm cooking it tonight along with Fall vegetables mixed with organic Cannelloni beans. It looked great on the video so I'm serving to my daughter and her mother for dinner. Love Chef John (and I don't even know him)! Thanks.
Shawn Donovan
Lebanon, NH, US

RatherCynical said...

Chef John, what do your breasts end up at (internal temp) when you do it this method? Last time I tried it, went ridiculously dry so I decided to stick with the ol' butterflying technique which gets the breast to a perfect 145-150F whilst the legs are a good 170

Chef John said...

Not sure, I don't test the breast temp, but I've never had dry white meat using this method.

Gerry Granatowski said...

Hi John,

Your videos are great! I made the Salt-Roasted Chicken using coarse sea salt and as you said it was juicy and delicious with a crispy golden brown skin. However, as you mentioned in the video "it seems like too much salt, but trust you..." I think it was too much salt, at least mine had too much left over on the skin,

The Incredible Sulk said...

How about a video about that ragu?

The Incredible Sulk said...

How about a video about that ragu?

Jangsaverem said...

Chef John,

I made this chicken last night and the internal temp came out correct but the skin was not crisp as I expected it to be. Rather, it was like rubber/tough leather (though tasted good). The breats were moist though a bit chewy (but not bad), however, the dark meat was more rubbery and it took a great deal of strength to pull the legg from the whole. The skin all around was golden but stuck to the dark meat like glue and was inedable. Breast tasted good as well

Chicken was 4.5lbs cook time of 63mins
Thigh temp of 163ish

What could I have done wrong?

Jangsaverem said...

Chef john,

I made this chicken last night and though the breast came out fine and the flavors were great I ended up with issues. The skin was like shoe leather and the breast was a bit rubbery but by no means problematic. What was, however, was the dark meat which was rubbery and next to impossible to dislodge from the whole. The skin on the dark meat felt like it was glued down to it and took force to remove and the meat itself (though tasty) was tough and chewy. I'm not sure what went wrong

4.5lb chicken
63mins 450
Rest for 15mins

Ide like to attempt this again as the flavor was perfect chicken flavor but I'm afraid of messing up again.

Chef John said...

Sounds undercooked to me! Maybe it was colder, and it was bigger, so it would need longer than mine.

Heather Plant said...

I tried this and it came out really good I was really afraid it was gona be to salty but u were right it wasn't I have made this twice already and plain to make it many more

Foodflurries.com said...

Chef John, with all this leftover chicken, how come I have never seen you make chicken salad before? Can you make a chicken salad post soon?

genesis said...

Chef John. Is the temperature the same if Im gonna use chicken parts like thighs, wings and ribs?

How much should I reduce the amount of the sauce? Thank you.

genesis said...

Chef John, how much will I reduce the Oven Temp and the Baking time if I'm only using chicken parts like breast, thigh, wings etc.?

Also how much should I reduce the quantity of the sauce?

I want to make this for christmas, but I want to make a test run first.

Chef John said...

Not sure this recipe translates to cut up chicken. It's really for a whole bird. Same temp, and sauce, but would cook faster. Nut sure how much, so use a thermometer!

Kaleinani said...

The parson's nose has the uropygial gland. It produces a preening oil that chickens use. So, no worries Chef John, you remembered correctly! ^_^

Steve Kennedy said...

I am thinking uropygial gland is not going to show up on my menu.
I am old fashioned that way.

Aaron said...

I have used this technique a bunch of times for cooking bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and it works perfectly! You can throw in some vegetation (brussel sprouts are my favorite) in the last 20 minutes of cooking and you have a 1-dish meal!

I think you would have problems using white-meat chicken pieces as they aren't as forgiving as thighs. That of course should not stop you from trying and reporting back to us.

Missy Boulton said...

I tried this a couple of weeks ago and it was very very tasty, even though I over salted it.. I really didn't think that would be possible but.. I was! AND my sauce didn't turn out right!! I used a different kind of lemon.. HOWEVER.. I am making this again right right now.. I think I got the quirks out and this time I am sure it is going to be DELICIOUS!! Thanks Chef, I love your videos!! xoxo Missy

Chef John said...

That's how we learn! Enjoy! :)

Darcy Thomas said...

I tried this last week and scorched my hand grabbing the handle of the frying pan right after placing on the stove (stupid, stupid, rookie mistake!!). Turns out it is difficult to eat chicken dinner with one hand in a bucket of ice water. But I tried it again this weekend and it was OUT STANDING!! My guests raved and raved. And I didn't burn my hand. Outta the park on this one Chef John. May never make roast chicken any other way ever again. Mine was 4.25lb and I cooked it 70 minutes. Perfect! Thanks so much.

Unknown said...

My dad, who was a chef, made it this way from my earliest memories. I was pressed into service from an early age. My brother never had to. Now my brother cooks chicken this way and even though we learned the same way mine is better than his. We are Senior Citizens now and we still try to outdo each other in the cooking department. We both, however, tear into our chicken with our fingers grossing out the more fastidious family members. Oh well, there's nothing like roasted chicken juice dripping off your elbows to show appreciation to the cook. Yvonne

Dan Parent said...

Outstanding recipe Chef John. I wanted a good easy roast chicken recipe after my girlfriend brought home a whole bird. I've impressed everyone with several of your recipes but this simple chicken dish wowwed em all. Thanks again.

YoJoLo said...

PLEASE, PLEASE Chef John. Post the recipe for the red pepper, trout bean ragu. I looked all over the internet for it but it was not to be found. Would love to serve the chicken just the way you served it-on the Ragu.

I brine my Thanksgiving turkey for 4 hours the night before I cook it. I get rave reviews. The meat is ALWAYS extremely moist-even the white meat. I was going to brine the small chicken that is my refrigerator right now but I'm trying it your way. I'll get back to you about how it turns out.

Bob Waters said...

Dear Chef,

Re. Chicken baked in Salt. Your recipe worked out really well. I know that because I was abusive with the salt and it still came out delicious.
Before starting out with wine that you don't use for cooking, use Chef John's measurements for salt. I think it is pretty accurate. I'm probably going to use this recipe again, especially if I can find more Bell and Evans chickens. Worth the price.

Accolades to you, Chef, Cheers to you from Bob in Vermont

Mike said...

I made this tonight and the chicken was perfect. Used a cast iron skillet at 450 debrees and was over temp at 50 minutrs but moist and delicious nonetheless. I wiped excess salt from the pan prior to the oven but the skin was still overly salty. Perhaps I over did it? There was a bit of salt crust when finished, ehich I tried to wipe away. I want to do this again but need to reduce the over saltiness. Suggestions? (Other than the obvious :)

Unknown said...

Chef John -

I prepared this dish when you first published it a year ago and it was superb! Similar to Costco Rotisserie Chicken (which most people think is the best), but yours is much better! Very, very juicy, and so easy to prepare.

I bought a 5 1/2 pounder this afternoon with this recipe in mind. I think I'll slow the oven down a little bit to 435 degrees and increase the time some. If it doesn't crisp up, I'll broil it for a minute or two.

Instead of the Red Pepper Ragu, I'll nest it on a bed of sauteed onions, jalapenos, pasillas, mushrooms, garlic and tomatoes, for a Mexican twist....I can't wait!

The nice thing is that while very tasty, this recipe is neutral and lends itself to being served with many different kinds of food. A summer backyard picnic or spaghetti dinner would work with this.

Just Great!