When I got my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, this is the first recipe I tried and I’ve been making roast chicken this way ever since. What Julia Child says in the introduction is true: “You can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by roast chicken.” No worries about being judged after following this recipe: the result is a foolproof, flavourful, juicy, crisp-skinned chicken.
Cooking the bird this way does require you to hang around the kitchen, but what better place is there to be? Enjoy the process, then enjoy a fabulous roast chicken!
Here’s what happened:
Got the onion and carrots.
And the chicken.
Butter for smearing.
Chicken, smeared and ready for the oven.
Poulet Rôti (Roast Chicken)
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck.
A 3-lb., ready-to-cook roasting or frying chicken
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. softened butter
A shallow roasting pan just large enough to hold the chicken easily
To flavour the sauce: a small sliced carrot and onion
For basting: a small saucepan containing 2 Tbsp. melted butter, 1 Tbsp good cooking oil; a basting brush
Estimated roasting time for a 3-pound chicken: 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with the salt and smear in half the butter. Truss the chicken. Dry it thoroughly, and rub the skin with the rest of the butter.
Place the chicken breast up in the roasting pan. Strew the vegetables around it and set it on a rack in the middle the preheated oven. Allow the chicken to brown lightly for 15 minutes, turning it on the left side after 5 minutes, on the right side for the last 5 minutes and basting it, with the butter and oil after each turn. Baste rapidly, so the oven does not cool off. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Leave the chicken on its side, and baste every 8 to 10 minutes, using the fat in the roasting pan when the butter and oil are exhausted. Regulate oven heat so chicken is making cooking noises, but fat is not burning.
Halfway through estimated roasting time, salt the chicken and turn it on its other side. Continue basting.
Fifteen minutes before end of estimated roasting time, salt again and turn the chicken breast up. Continue basting.
Indications that the chicken is almost done are: a sudden rain of splutters in the oven, a swelling of the breast and slight puff of the skin, the drumstick is tender when pressed and can be moved in its socket. To check further, prick the thickest part of the drumstick with a fork. Its juices should run clear yellow. As a final check, lift the chicken and drain the juices from its vent. If the last drops are clear yellow, the chicken is definitely done. If not, roast another 5 minutes, then test again.
When done, discard trussing strings and set the chicken on a hot platter. It should sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before being carved, so its juices will retreat back into the tissues.