Zuni Café Perfect Roast Chicken
Recipe from New York Times - Judy Rodgers
1 small chicken, 2¾ to 3½ pounds
4 sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage Sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Season the chicken 1 to 3 days before serving (for 3¼ to 3½ -pound chickens, at least 2 days): Remove and discard the lump of fat inside the chicken. Pat the chicken very dry (a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown).
Slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets, then use a fingertip to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Push an herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets.
Using about ¾ teaspoon sea salt per pound of chicken and pepper to taste, season the chicken liberally all over with salt and the pepper. Sprinkle a little of the salt just inside the cavity and on the backbone. Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders. Cover loosely and refrigerate.
When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat the oven to 475˚F. Depending on your oven and the size of your bird, you may need to adjust the heat to as high as 500˚F or as low as 450˚F during roasting to brown the chicken properly.
Use a large, heavy skillet that is oven safe. Preheat the pan over medium heat. Add the oil, swirl the pan. Wipe the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan. Shake the pan for a few minutes to ensure the chicken doesn’t stick.
Place in the center of the oven and watch for it to start sizzling and browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over (drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking). Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to re-crisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes. Total oven time will be 45 minutes to 1 hour. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 10-15 minutes on a rack or cutting board. Cut the chicken into pieces and pour the pan drippings over the chicken.