Even with no added fat, this bird is moist, juicy and flavorful. It's not the prettiest chicken you'll ever pull out of your oven -- the basting of balsamic vinegar bakes into a blackish crust -- but it's one of the tastiest. The garam masala seasoning is assertive without being overpowering.
You can add butter to the spice rub if you like, and you can baste with unsalted butter during roasting, but with a chicken this good, it seems pointless to bother.
- 3 tablespoons garam masala
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 1/2- to 4-pound whole chicken
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire roasting rack on the sheet. Spray the rack with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Combine the garam masala and salt in a small bowl. Place the chicken on a work surface and slide your fingers under the skin and over the breast meat on both sides, opening up a pocket between skin and meat. At the area where the leg connects to the body, work your fingers down around the thigh and leg, creating a pocket between skin and meat. Rub 2 teaspoons of the garam masala mixture under each breast half and under the skin of each thigh, rubbing it all along the meat. Rub the remaining mixture all over the skin of the chicken and inside the cavity. Tie the legs together with twine, and tuck the wings behind the back.
Place the chicken breast side down on the roasting rack and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush the back of the chicken with half of the vinegar; turn the chicken breast side up, brush the top with the remaining vinegar and roast for about 30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (away from the bone) registers 180 degrees.
Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest on the rack for 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Adapted from "Masala Farm," by Suvir Saran (Chronicle, 2011).
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.