Perfect Roast Chicken with Salsa Verde

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A perfectly roasted chicken makes a delicious meal and if you're lucky, leftovers plus bones for broth. There's no reason we home cooks shouldn't achieve perfection which is why I've adapted my roasted chicken from one of the best restaurants in America, Thomas Keller's ad hoc.

The chicken

  • One 4- to 4 1/2- pound chicken, more or less (Serves 4-6)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs, lemon or orange halves, garlic cloves, etc.
  • 4 large carrots, left whole
  • 4 celery stalks, left whole
  • 1 small yellow onion, trimmed, leaving root end intact, and cut into quarters
  • Kitchen twine
  • 1 Tbls. olive oil
  • 1 to 2 cups white wine, chicken or vegetable broth or water

Salsa Verde (below and optional)

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until it comes to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 475° F. 

Using a paring knife, cut out the wishbone from the chicken. This can be found by running your finger along the neck cavity. This step is not necessary but will make it easier to carve the chicken. Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper. Fill the cavity with the herbs, citrus halves, garlic cloves, etc., and massage the inside of the bird to infuse it with the flavors and plump the bird. Tie the legs together at the ankles with the twine.

Place the whole vegetables in the center of a roasting pan to act as a shelf that will lift the chicken up off the pan. This will help it to evenly brown and crisp. Place the chicken on the “vegetable shelf” and rub the skin with the olive oil. Season it generously with salt. Add 1 cup of water, wine or broth to the roasting pan. Put the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes or until the skin is beautifully browned.

Reduce the heat to 450°F and roast until done.

Chicken is done at 165˚ - 170˚ Roast the chicken for a total of 45 minutes plus 7 minutes per pound [e.g. a 4-pound chicken = 45 + 7 minutes X 4 lbs. = 73 minutes]

The temperature should register 165°F in the meatiest portions of the bird which are the thighs and under the breast where the thighs and breast meet. Check to make sure the juices run clear and are not pink. If necessary, return the bird to the oven and check every 5 minutes or so. Remove the chicken onto a platter or cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Let the chicken rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, squeeze the vegetables in the pan to remove the juices, then toss. Warm the remaining juices over medium heat. Add the second cup of white wine, chicken or vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and scrape all the bits from the pan. Serve with the chicken alone with the juices and lemon wedges or try the salsa verde below.

Adapted from ad hoc at home, Thomas Keller

Salsa Verde The herbs in this sauce add a lovely fresh taste to the bird along with umami from the anchovies.

  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed
  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped arugula
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped tarragon
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped sage

Note: use the herbs you have and leave out what you don’t. 

Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, blend or mash the capers with the anchovies and garlic until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the remaining 1 cup of olive oil. Stir in the herbs and season with salt to taste. The salsa verde can be refrigerated overnight and is best served at room temperature.