One of the favourite “fast food” options in France is the rotisserie chicken and roasted potatoes that you can find in any neighborhood market. You can usually just follow your nose to find the chicken seller. Back home, it’s sometimes hard to recreate the flavour of both the chicken and the potatoes… The trick is to use a lot of butter, says cook Mardi Michels.
Serves 4; Prep time: 25 minutes Cook time: about 11/2 hours
Ingredients for roast chicken French style
2–3 cups roughly chopped assorted root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, potatoes)
2 medium (12 oz/350 g total) yellow onions, thickly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small lemons, grate the zest of one and use both for the chicken
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 whole chicken (3 lb/1.5 kg)
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled but smashed
A few sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup (57 g) salted butter, at room temperature
1–2 teaspoons dried Herbes de Provence or dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (57 g) salted butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled but smashed
How to make classic French roast chicken
Preheat the oven to 425˚F (220˚C).
- Scatter the chopped vegetables in a roasting pan with the olive oil.Add the lemon zest, thyme, salt and pepper to the vegetables and, using your hands, mix until all the vegetables are coated. Make sure the vegetables are sitting evenly on the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Pat the cavity of the bird dry using a paper towel.
- Cut both the lemons in quarters and place them in the cavity of the bird with the smashed garlic and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. If all the lemon quarters don’t fit, you can pop them in the pan with the vegetables—just don’t forget to take them out when you are serving the chicken.Cut about half of the butter into small pieces and place them under the skin of the bird. To do this, start at the cavity end of the chicken and slide one or two fingers between the meat and the skin. Work slowly, separating the skin from the meat as far as you can reach. Squish the butter pieces slightly and fit them under the skin as best you can.
- Spread the remainder of the butter over the outside of the skin. The easiest way to do this is with your hands. Season the bird with the Herbes de Provence or dried thyme and a touch of pepper.
- Place the bird directly on the vegetables in the roasting pan and place in the oven for 20 minutes, until the skin starts to brown nicely.
- Add the smashed garlic to the melted butter and place this over very low heat on the stovetop. You will use this to baste the chicken while it’s roasting.
- Turn down the oven to 400˚F (200˚C) and roast the chicken for 60 to 70 minutes more, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the high part of the thigh registers 165˚F (74˚C). Normally you can count on about 20 minutes’ cook time per pound (454 g) of chicken but to be absolutely sure, a meat thermometer is the way to go!
- While the bird is cooking, baste it every 20 minutes or so with the melted butter and smashed garlic. This will season the bird even more.
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven (leave the vegetables in the roasting pan), place it on a cutting board (preferably one that has a drain ridge to catch any juices), cover it loosely with aluminium foil and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before you carve it.
- Give the vegetables a good stir and place the roasting pan back in the oven until you are ready to serve the meal. If the vegetables are not crispy enough, you can set the broiler to high (around 400˚F/200˚C, if your broiler has a temperature display) and broil them for about 5 minutes but do keep an eye on them as they might burn.
TIP: To smash a garlic clove, place it on a cutting board and place a large knife that’s wider than the garlic clove flat on top of the garlic with the blade facing away from you. Use all your strength to press down until the garlic clove splits. voilà! You’ve just smashed it! This is also an easy way to peel garlic
Recipe from: In the French Kitchen with Kids: Easy, Everyday Dishes for the Whole Family to Make and Enjoy by Mardi Michels, the prolific blogger behind eat. live. travel. Write.