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Perfect Roasted Chicken, Thomas Keller Style

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A couple years back on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, there was an episode devoted to cooking techniques. A variety of famous chef’s demonstrated how to make some of the most simple, yet delicious dishes. Since then I’ve cooked omelets the way of Jacques Pepin, and now the perfectly roasted chicken, courtesy of Thomas Keller. One day I’ll make it to one of Keller’s two famous restaurants, Per Se and The French Laundry, but until then, I’ll make this roast chicken over and over.

What makes this roast chicken so delicious is the amazing crispy skin you achieve while still getting a perfectly moist meat underneath. The two basic skills that this dish taught me were how to remove the wish bone and how to properly truss a chicken. The former was slightly more difficult, while trussing the chicken just took a minute. The hardest part was making the slip knot at the end (though you can just as easily just tie a knot).

Since it is a lot easier to post the video from No Reservations than trying to describe all the techniques, take a look here [3]:

Another great thing about this chicken is that you can cook it by itself in a pan or roasting pan or with lots of root vegetables like they do at Keller’s other restaurant, Bouchon [4]. This is what I did, however, I only had potatoes handy. I tossed in some cloves of garlic too which added some great flavor to the potatoes.

Recipe based off Thomas Keller’s roast chicken from Ad Hoc at Home [5]

1 3-5 pound chicken – room temperature (very important)
butchers twine
kosher salt
black pepper
~2 pounds potatoes, cut into small chunks
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled

Preheat the oven to 475.

Once your chicken has come to room temperature, you want to remove the wish bone. The video above is a good demo on how to do this. You basically want to use a pairing knife to scrape the bit of flesh below the bone and the slide your knife along the top of the bone. Once you have loosened it, you can pull it out with your fingers. After this tuck the wings underneath the bottom of the bird.

Put the bird on its side and generously season the inside cavity with salt and pepper. If you think you used enough, use a little more.

Next you need to truss your chicken with a couple feet of butchers twine. Its best to have the chicken in front of you legs away from you. Starting by looping the string under the tail and then in a figure 8 on top of the legs and then dropping the string under the legs and pulling tightly. Then you want to pull the strings along the side and then carefully flip the chicken over. Put one end under the neck and tie with the other end in a slip knot or a regular knot.

You now want to season the bird on the outside with a lot of kosher salt. Spray the salt down with your fingers from 6-8 inches above to ensure the salt covers the entire outside.

Place the cut up potatoes into a large stainless steel pan or roasting pan and then place the chicken on top. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Depending on the size of the chicken, you may have to roast an additional 5 to 25 minutes. I had a 5.5 pound chicken which took closer to 1.5 hours. After the first 45 minutes, you can lower the temperature to 450 and continuously check the chicken every 5 minutes. The internal temp should read 160. Be sure to take the temp where the breast and thigh meet.

Serve with potatoes, salad, or other vegetable.