This is one of the simplest roast chicken recipes you can find, inspired by chef Thomas Keller. The only small technical step is to truss the legs, but that is not crucial; one might even argue that the result can be better with no trussing. (But a trussed bird will look nicer.) Because the recipe is so simple, the quality of the chicken is important.
In roasting the potato slices, use a small to medium ovenproof dish that will not block the chicken from the heat. It will require stacking the potatoes, which will cook more slowly that way, so it's best to precook them (see NOTE).
Servings: 2 - 3
- For the chicken
- 2 1/2- to 3-pound chicken, gizzard packet removed (reserve for another use, if desired)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika or chopped thyme leaves (optional)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter , at room temperature
- For the potatoes
- 5 to 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices, then precooked (see NOTE)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Leaves from 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 tablespoon cold salted or unsalted butter , cut into very thin slices (optional; preferably using a mandoline or V-slicer)
For the chicken: If necessary, slightly lower the middle oven rack so the chicken will be situated in the middle of the oven as it roasts; preheat to 425 degrees.
Rinse the chicken and dry with paper towels inside and outside. Rub it with a generous amount of salt and pepper on the inside and outside, plus paprika, if using. Rub with the butter. If you want a more attractive result, use kitchen twine to truss (tie together) the legs.
Rub a little butter or canola oil on a roasting rack; place the bird on it.
Prepare the potatoes: Season the partially cooked potatoes lightly with salt and pepper and place them in a small or medium ovenproof baking dish, arranging the thyme leaves between the slices. Place the slices of butter over the potatoes, if desired.
When ready to roast, place the roasting rack with the chicken directly on the middle oven rack, with the potatoes positioned directly below to catch the chicken's juices, making sure there is enough headspace so the heat is not blocked from circulating under the bird.
Roast for 50 to 60 minutes, looking through the oven window to make sure the chicken does not burn. Test for doneness by piercing the bird where the leg is at its thickest. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done. If they are still pinkish, roast for 10 minutes and check again. If the potatoes are turning dry or becoming too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before serving. Carve the chicken and divide the pieces, along with the potatoes, among individual plates. If using the thyme, season just before serving. Serve hot.
NOTE: Precook the sliced potatoes by placing them in a large saute pan; cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook for 10 to 15 minutes; they will not be cooked through. Transfer to a small or medium ovenproof casserole dish.
From columnist Andreas Viestad.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.