Remove the chicken from the oven, transfer it to a cutting board or plate, and allow it to rest for 10-20 minutes before cutting it into pieces
Perfect Roast Chicken
One of the quintessential dinners features a fantastic whole roast chicken. Perfect for a dinner party or a casual weeknight, a whole chicken feeds 4-6 people (or 2 with leftovers) and can go with virtually any vegetable side.
- One small chicken, about 3 to 3 ¾ pounds
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, rosemary, or sage, each about 3 inches long
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- Fine sea salt, about ¾ tsp per pound of chicken
- 2 teaspoons ground paprika
- About ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
One to two days before roasting, season the chicken. Rinse the chicken, and thoroughly pat it dry inside and out with paper towels. Place the chicken breast side up in an 8- or 9-inch square glass or ceramic dish.
Approaching from the edge of the cavity, slip a finger under the skin of each breast, making two small pockets. Slide an herb sprig into each pocket, and place the other two sprigs inside the cavity. Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper, using your hands to massage the spices into the skin, concentrating more on the meaty breasts and thighs than the bony wings and ankles. Sprinkle a bit of salt inside the cavity. Tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders, cover the chicken with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
To roast the chicken, preheat the oven to 475°F. Rub with butter and sprinkle with paprika. Choose a shallow, flameproof roasting pan or dish barely larger than the chicken; a 9- or 10-inch cast iron skillet is perfect.
Preheat the pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Wipe the chicken dry with paper towels, and set it breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle. Place the pan in the middle of the oven, and listen and watch for the chicken to sizzle and start browning within 20 minutes.
The skin should blister a bit, but it shouldn’t blacken or smoke; if it does, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees. Conversely, if the chicken isn’t browning, raise the temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, gently turn the bird over. Roast for another 15-20 minutes, depending on size, then flip it back breast side up for another 5-10 minutes. Total roasting time will be 50 minutes to an hour.
Remove the chicken from the oven, transfer it to a cutting board or plate, and allow it to rest for 10-20 minutes before cutting it into pieces.