A Thomas Keller Roast Chicken

This baked chicken was too easy. And this is why I did it, it was easy. Was it good? Does it look good? Der, it was superb. Moist, moist with a crisp chickenny skin and loads of yummy salt. Yes, it was good. Chef Thomas Keller strikes again.
Rarely do I roast a chicken I don’t like, I was not looking for the perfect roast chicken. I tried it because it was so simple, I was able to remember it and it’d take 20 minutes off my cook time. Saving time is a good thing, especially when it looks like this. Interested?

Git yourself a good natural chicken, wash it and pat dry. And when I mean pat dry, you gotta go through a load of paper towels inside and out. Chef T wants a dry heat, not moist heat. Oh, and preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
Once your bird is completely dry, sprinkle salt inside & outside. Truss the sucker up and that’s it. Yup, you’re nearly done. I told you it was easy.
Install the bird in to the 450 degree oven, I used a cast iron skillet with a trivet. Gotta have the trivet, we don’t want a boiled bird. Set your timer for 1 hour. I wish there was more to it, but that’s it.
Wash, thoroughly dry, salt, truss and roast.

I knew darned well I was going to need gravy, so I diced some mushrooms & a whole shallot. Sauteed in the fat from the chicken, see? This is that plus a few tablespoons of flour. Brown this a bit, then add yer chicken broff. YEAH BABY !!! Gravy time. Once it begins to thicken, strain in to a sauce pan. Warm up and add lump of butter with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Simmer a bit more & serve. This time, oddly enough, it needed salt. This gravy was not only smiling, but it was dancing. It was a gravy party and we were invited, how awesome is that?


26 thoughts on “A Thomas Keller Roast Chicken

  1. I am a roasted-chicken-o-holic and am always looking for new tips in the quest for the perfect bird. The process you used sounds very similar to one used by the guy who wrote “The Minimalist Cooks Dinner,” (can’t remember dude’s name) but I’m curious: what’s this about a trivet? Did you put the trivet *under* the cast iron skillet in the oven? If so, why? To reduce the heat on the bottom of the pan. I am corn-fused.

  2. Hey mang,
    Well, this is a pretty damned perfect bird. From the skin, to the juicy dark AND white meat, it’s all there. I can’t believe Mr. Keller came up with this one, I’ve been doing similar for 25 years, just not at 450 degrees. I think next time I’ll slide some smoky bacon under the skin, over the breast meat. Just for fun.
    You just GOTTA have a trivet for roasting meat. It goes between the meat and the roaster/skillet.
    Here is the one I use:
    But you can use any inexpensive chromed cooling rack used for baking. Many times you’ll use chopped carrots, celery and/or onions for the meat to sit on. You don’t want your meat boiling/roasting in liquid. It makes the meat tough and rubbery. Which is probably why you’re supposed to dry the bird so thoroughly. I seen Ming use a huge fan on a duck during Iron Chef. Now that’s badass, a meat fan. Less liquid in the skin equals crispier texture.

  3. OK – so he has adjusted it a little – but I GOT THERE FIRST!
    see http://www.tomatilla.com/2002_07_01_tomatilla_archive.html
    So – I cook at 425 and I cook a touch longer – and I mess about with things like lemon and herbs and apples
    But I’ll take his bird on any day. We make ours about once a week and I usually cut potatoes up and toss them with oil pepper, salt and herbs and roast them in the pan with the bird. Nowadays I put the apples with the potatoes along with a couple of onions cut up. Now you’ve got a crispy chicken (the oil helps that) with roast potatoes onion and apple and it takes about five minutes of work plus an hour and ten minutes of cooking

  4. Hi Dr. Biggles,
    I’ve been lurking on your luscious site for a while, meaning to comment…so here I am, finally. This chicken looks too good NOT to try, so I’m going to give this one a whirl pretty soon — as well as a lot of other recipes and suggestions you’ve got going on here. This is the place for unrepentant carnivores like me and mine! Thanks.

  5. Last time I roasted a bird, I insisted on doing the gravy thing too. Gotta have it. My gravy in the past is real simmilar to yours. But this time, on the advice of a friend, I got a little bit fancy and put white wine, a non-oaky savignon blanc, in the gravy. I made a butter/flour rioux separately, then deglazed the pan with the drippings with the vino and let it reduce way down before I added the “brof” and the riuox to thicken.
    I was skeptical about adding white wine to my gravy, cuz frankly my gravy wasn’t broke so I didn’t want to fix it. But I must say, it turned out real nice…
    I will try the Thomas Keller method. Prolly this week….

  6. Hey Owen,
    Damn man, that was like 2002 an junk. I believe we do at least a roasted chicken a week. Again, I like this one cause it’s done in an hour, that rocks.
    Hey Julie,
    Thank you for the kind words and for stopping by. Don’t forget to stuff under the skin some smoky bacon!
    Hey Henry,
    GO GRAVY MAN !!! White wine is good, you bet. What I used to do, but not lately, is to add a dollup or two of creme fraiche. That’ll send your eyes rolling back in yer head. I probably wouldn’t add the fresh lemon juice then.
    See all’yalls

  7. Dr B – I will be trying the keller method – that’s for sure – but I have to admit that I will add some of my extras – I like my extras – roast potatoes are a good thing.
    Hey – got proofs of the book back from the printer today – I’m finally convinced its happening (especially since they took multiple thousands of dollars out of my bank account – that really convinced me!)

  8. Hey Owen,
    HAHAHAHHAHHHAH. Yeah, “I’m broke, so it must be working.” At least it’s forward progress, eh?
    Hey man, you don’t have to convince me about the taters. My mother is from Kansas, I love my spuds. Don’t forget the smoky bacon under the skin, you won’t regret it.

  9. Nice looking bird! I’ve been guilty of non-trivet use for many years, I’m going to give it a try, I’ll let you know! ….love the gravy…but gravy needs mashed potato.
    Great site!

  10. Hey Melissa,
    Trivet love, it’s the way to be.
    I understand about the mashed potato situation. The deal is this; my older son LOVES mashed potato and we have it several times a week. Thusly, we haven’t had rice in MONTHS, because the same child doesn’t enjoy the rice action. I just had to do rice, had to. Needed an influx of the rice.

  11. So….I tried the dry heat/trivet chicken…not as beautiful as your bird, you have a real nice color on yours, but, I’m a convert! Read all about it….

  12. Hey Melissa,
    How could your chicken not come out all browned and lovely? How was the juicy taste?
    Where can I read all about it?

  13. Tried roasting a chicken twice, and both times have filled the house with smoke. The oven is scrupulously clean, but the chicken “spits” grease, which hits the walls and the floor of the oven, which then burns. How do you avoid this problem?

  14. Hey Brody,
    Some chickens will spit more than others, but you are correct. It gets fat EVERYWHERE. Heck, if you use your oven for meat it’ll spit fat at anything above 375 or so. I think you’re going to have to get over having a clean oven. The walls of my oven are thick with smooth fat shellac.
    I’ve also got the vent of my oven directed in to my exhaust fan for the stovetop. This is easy for me considering my gas range and set up. Surely not everyone will be as lucky.
    Dirty ovens and smoky homes are the prices we pay for the best chicken you’ll ever have!

  15. I’m sure that’s a good chicken, but you can do better. So can Mr. Keller, obviously … this is his formula for the easiest possible bird.
    Here are some tips for a supremely good bird, that only takes a bit more effort:
    -450 degrees is good, but 500 is better. Those who don’t like smoke can stop reading now 🙂
    -you can dispense with a trivet. use a bed of finely chopped onions and trimmings (the neck, clipped wingtips, etc.). this will elevate the chicken, as well as help keep the fond (pan drippings) from burning. you need those for a good sauce.
    -a dry bird is indeed good. i’m just restating this because it can’t be overemphasized. you’ll do well to avoid washing the outside, or brining the bird. in fact, spending a few extra bucks for a high end chicken, which will have been air dried rather than packed in plastic after the (wet) feather removal process, will get you started with skin that has about 5% less water content.
    -you can also air dry yourself in the fridge. this is a method that has been recommended by chefs like Keller, alice waters, and the zuni cafe people. salt the bird inside and out, with roughly 1/2 tsp salt per pound, and leave uncovered in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. do not skimp on time. if you can’t go at least 12 hours, then do not pre-salt (it will have the opposite effect and give you damp skin … either salt shortly before roasting or a long time before. not in between).
    -here’s the kicker: cover the breast meat of the bird with doubled piece of foil for the first fifteen minutes of cooking. or do what was done in france traditionally, and use bacon (this is called barding). the reason is that breast meat (white muscle fiber) reaches perfection about 10 degrees lower than leg meat (red muscle fiber). Yet the breast is actually closer to the roof of the oven. It needs protection, otherwise you’re going to be compromising juiciness and tenderness to get the dark meat cooked all the way. there are other ways of dealing with this (constantly turning the bird) but they’re a nuissance, and offer no advantages that I can see, besides not needing some foil.
    -it’s also a good idea to clip off the wing tips, and to cover the ends of the drumsticks with a strip of foil. this will keep the high heat from charring them.
    -depending on the evenness of your oven, you might find it helpful to rotate the bird 180 degrees about 2/3 of the way through cooking
    -total time is about 10 mintues a pound.
    -allow the bird to rest for 10 minutes out of the oven. this is very important for any roasted meat.

  16. Hey Paul R,
    Holy crap! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this down for us all. While I’m sure many are tired of the chicken, I’m not. I wonder what my old wedgewood will do at 500? This should be interesting to say the least.
    I agree with the brining, just buy a good bird dangit.

    Acually, i’ve been doing this for quite a while. One thing I add though, is cut up, (in chunks), a few potatos, and carrots, maybe onions if you like. Put it all in the pan, I like to put a few potatos on the bottom, and some on top. The top ones protect the bird, and get crunchy, while the bottom ones soak up all the yummy juices! The last step, after all is in the pan, is cut a lemon in half. Squeeze the juice over everything, then shove the pieces in the cavity! gives everything a light, sweet lemon touch! My kids fight for seconds!

  18. Hey Steve,
    Yeah, I do tha tfrom time to time. But I found that the veggies & tubers released enough moisture to weaken the crispy skin. I take a lot of time to make sure the skin and cavity are more than fully dry.
    That being said, a good roasted chicken in nearly any form is a delight.

  19. I want to know more about the History and the meaning of the roast chicken. May you help me?

  20. Hey Bloodwolfkiller,
    You’d have to be more specific in your question.
    Humans have been roasting meat since they invented fire. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

  21. I have prepared this recipe before, and I know how easy and delicious it is … but your website was great. The picture of the chicken was luscious, and your gravy hints were great. Sweet potatoes go great with this also … whenever I hear Thomas Keller, I am very interested. I had lunch at Bouchon in Vegas, and it was very nice, but I would love to go to his FRENCH LAUNDRY IN NAPPA, OR PER SE IN NEW YORK … maybe some day. Thanks for the great article … it will motivate many folks to give this recipe a try, and they will love it.
    Mary Carney

  22. Hi Mary,
    I still haven’t been to any of them, the cost keeps me away. Too bad because I’m only maybe 30 minutes from downtown Napa, ah well.
    That being said, since this post, it’s pretty much the only way I roast chickens. It’s way to fast and easy, plus the results make me very glad to be alive.