Keller's Roast Chicken
This recipe is from Thomas Keller of The French Laundry, and is Richard Turner’s favourite.
The chicken must be at room temperature before it goes in the oven, or the chicken will not cook evenly. What Keller recommends is leave the chicken in the refrigerator, uncovered (on a plate and not touching anything else in the fridge), for 1-2 days after buying it, so that the skin gets a bit dried out. It will roast up crispier this way. Then 1.5 to 2 hours before it goes in the oven, put it on a plate on the kitchen counter to come to room temp. Remove the giblets from the cavity of the chicken before you set it out to come to room temp. (Save for stock.)
1 x 1.8-2kg Slow Maturing Ross Chicken
Kosher (or Maldon) salt & freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves
smashed and peeled
6 thyme sprigs
3 medium swedes and 2 medium turnips – peeled, ends cut and any outer tough layer discarded, then cut into 3/4-inch wedges
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut in 2-inch segments
1 small yellow onion, peeled, roots cut off but core kept intact and cut into quarters
8 small red-skinned new potatoes
approx 1/3 cup olive oil, grapeseed or canola oil
4 Tbsp butter at room temp
Serves 3-4 or 7-8
1. Preheat oven to 246°C/Gas mark 9.
2. Use a paring knife, cut away the wishbone from the breast. You may have to use your fingers to feel around for it. This will make the chicken easier to carve after it is cooked but not essential.
3. Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt & pepper. Add three of the garlic cloves and 5 sprigs of thyme, using your hands to rub the thyme and garlic all around the cavity.
4. Truss the chicken with kitchen string. Start with a 3-foot section of string. With the breast up, and legs toward you, tuck the wing tips under the chicken. Wrap the string under the neck end, pulling the string ends up under the breast plumping it up. Then cross the string under the breast (above the cavity and wrap each end around the closest leg end, tying the legs tightly together.
5. Place the vegetables, onions, garlic, and thyme into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of oil and toss with your hands until well coated. Season generously.
6. Slather the chicken with oil and season well.
7. Create a bed of the root vegetables in a large cast iron pan (or roasting pan) leaving the potatoes to arrange at the top around chicken. Place the chicken on the bed of vegetables and place spuds. Slather the breasts with butter.
8. Place the pan/tray in the oven and roast for 25 mins at 246C. Reduce to 204C and roast for an additional 45 mins, or until the thickest part of the thigh registers 71C on a meat thermometer and the juices run clear.
9. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, cover with foil and rest for 20 mins before carving. Keep the veg warm in the now-turned-off oven while the chicken is resting. Stir to coat the vegetables with the cooking juices before serving.