I once heard that you can tell a great chef by how well he or she can prepare a simple roast chicken. It’s always fun to play around with haute ingredients, global influences, and esoteric spices, but if you can’t master the simplicity of a crisp-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside roast, then you’re toast.
You guys, I think I’ve done it.
To be fair, I had some help from this NYT recipe for “Garlic and Thyme Chicken,” but after a few attempts, many edits, and a little bit of imagination, I’ve come up with the quintessential blueprint for a rich, aromatic, melt-in-your mouth roast chicken.
- 1 5-pound chicken
- Olive oil as needed
- Salt as needed
- Black pepper as needed
- 1 head of garlic (you can remove some layers of papery skin, but keep it mostly intact)
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- A few leaves of fresh sage
- 1 lime, halved
- 1 grocery store loaf of garlic bread, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove any innards from the cavity and thoroughly pat your chicken dry with paper towels, making sure to dab inside hidden nooks and crannies. (This is key to getting a crispy, browned skin.) Rub 1 TSP salt and about 1/4 TSP pepper inside the cavity and then stuff it with your head of garlic, sage, thyme, and both halves of the lime. Massage the entire chicken with some drizzles of olive oil, then rub it with 1 TB of salt and a few sprinkles of pepper. Place it on a rack and roast for 45 minutes.
At the 45-minute mark, lift the rack and lay your bread slices, garlic spread side up, at the bottom of the pan and drizzle lightly with olive oil. (You may need help with this part; chickens are heavy!) Set the rack down again over the bread and remove the limes, squeezing their juice over the chicken and the bread.Also remove the garlic and place it at the bottom of the pan. Roast for another 45 minutes.
When you take it out, the roast should be beautifully crispy and browned, juicy on the inside, and smelling heavenly. The garlic cloves will be so soft you could spread them on the toasted bread! Let rest for 10 minutes before carving so the juices have a chance to settle.
Goes very well with a medley of roasted cauliflower, carrots, and onions!