If you're going to trust anyone with a roast chicken recipe, Julia Child is a wise choice. In this adaptation of her classic recipe, Child rubs the bird with butter and salt before roasting it in the oven, rotating it often to get golden skin all around. If you're ever afraid of roasting poultry, this recipe is simply foolproof.
As Child explains in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, basting is crucial to a golden bird. However, speed is also crucial to ensure you aren't letting out all of the heat from the oven every time you baste. (If you do, your bird will take longer to cook and will never get as crispy.) And while Child goes all out with a pan sauce of shallots cooked in chicken fat, we also love sopping up this chicken in its juices, making sure to scoop up the caramelized onions in the pan.
To learn more, read "Just Julia."
Recipe adapted from 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1,' by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Penguin Random House)
Yield: 2 to 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus resting time
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes, plus resting time
One 3½-to-4-pound chicken, patted dry with paper towels
1 tablespoon salt, divided
4 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons softened and 2 tablespoons melted
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with 1 teaspoon of the salt and smear on 1 tablespoon of the softened butter. Truss the bird with kitchen twine, then rub it with the other tablespoon of softened butter.
2. Scatter the carrot and onion slices in a roasting pan and place the chicken on top, breast up. Stir the oil into the melted butter to use for basting.
3. Roast the chicken to brown lightly for 15 minutes, rotating it onto its left side after 5 minutes and onto its right side for the last 5 minutes, basting with every rotation.
4. Keep the chicken on its right side and lower the oven to 350°. Baste and season with another teaspoon of salt. Roast for 15 minutes, then rotate back to its left side, baste and season with the remaining teaspoon of salt. Roast another 15 minutes.
5. Rotate the chicken back onto its back, breast up. Baste and continue to roast until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165° when inserted into the thigh with an instant-read thermometer, 20 to 25 minutes more.
6. Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer to a hot platter. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving, serving with its juices and roast vegetables.