A Salt and Battery

Roast chicken with tomatillo salsa puts a new spin on an old bird

Chef Billy Allin's advice for flavorful roast chicken is pretty simple: Don't be afraid of a little salt.

Allin serves what he calls "refined rustic" cuisine at restaurant Cakes & Ale and its new sidekick bakery in Decatur, GA. Case in point: his simple-with-a-twist roast chicken (see the recipe).

Allin leaves 3½-pound birds uncovered in the fridge overnight in a light salt rub spiked with black pepper, clove and coriander. At the restaurant, the chicken is cooked in a wood-burning oven, then served with charred corn-and-potato salad, mild cotija cheese, and a salsa made from nearly overripe tomatillos grown in Allin's garden.

Because we don't have a wood-burning oven handy, we split and roasted the chicken in a high-temperature oven and drizzled it with the salsa and a sprinkle of cheese and cilantro. The salsa's sweet-tart kick, from jalapeño and lime, gave a nice lift to the bird's tender meat.

It's a dish that really takes flight.