Everyone's got opinions when it comes to roasting a bird. We polled some of our favorite chefs for tips and rolled their collective advice together to create the ultimate, all-star roast chicken. (see the recipe).
Start with a good bird. All our chefs agree: buy the best chicken you can find, naturally raised, no antibiotics, never frozen, medium size (3.5lbs is ideal). "Four Story Hill Farm is the best," says Michael Tusk of Quince in SF.
Brine and stuff it like Ethan Stowell. Prolific Seattle restaurateur Stowell recommends a basic brine of 1 cup salt to 1 gallon water, 1 bulb of garlic cut in half, 4 bay leaves, 1 bunch of thyme and the peel of 1 lemon. Boil it all together and then cool, then submerge the chicken overnight.
"Stuffing the cavity is crucial, because it seasons the bird from the inside out," says Stowell. "I do a lemon and bulb of garlic, each cut in half, with some thyme and bay leaf."
Season it like Justin Smillie. Smillie, chef at NYC's Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria makes an herb paste with harissa spices, oregano, parsley and lemon zest, which he rubs all over the chicken and then lets dry on the skin.
Baste it like Waxman. "Baste it like hell every five to ten minutes!" says the king of roast chickens, Jonathan Waxman of NYC's Barbuto.
End it hot like Hugh Acheson. "Most people play the high to low temperature game," says the chef from Five & Ten in Athens, GA. "But I start at 325º then finish at 400º. My logic is I want the fat to render into the meat as slowly as possible."
Sauce it like Andrew Carmellini. Roast your chicken atop a bed of tomatoes, potatoes, onions, green olives and rosemary seasoned with salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Afterwards, make a sauce right in the pan; hit it with store-bought stock and "a little Banyuls vinegar to brighten it up," like the chef of NYC's The Dutch and Lafayette does.
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