Poulet rôti, or French roast chicken, is a classic of the Franco culinary empire. And it’s so simple: just season a chicken with herbs, place it on top of root vegetables, and baste it with plenty of butter. C’est incroyable, non?
This approach to roast chicken is sorta like a French woman’s approach to tossing a scarf around her neck. With very little effort but just the right knowing, something incredibly simple and commonplace is suddenly made to seem sophisticated. That’s what happens when you slip some lemon, herbs, and root vegetables in with your plain old hen. No one else needs to know just how simple it is. Just nod and graciously accept the compliments.–Renee Schettler Rossi
French Roast Chicken | Poulet Rôti
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 H, 50 M
- Serves 4
- For the chicken
- 2 to 3 cups roughly chopped assorted root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, potatoes)
- 2 medium yellow onions, thickly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 small lemons, preferably organic, zest grated from 1
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- One (3-pound) whole chicken
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled but smashed
- A few sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 tablespoons salted butter (2 oz), at room temperature
- 1 to 2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence or dried thyme
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For basting
- 4 tablespoons salted butter (2 oz)
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled and smashed
- Make the chicken
- 1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
- 2. Scatter the chopped vegetables and onions in a roasting pan and drizzle with the oil. Add the lemon zest, thyme, salt, and pepper to the vegetables and, using your hands, mix until all the vegetables are coated and then spread into a single layer.
- 3. Using paper towels, pat the chicken completely dry, inside and out.
- 4. Cut both lemons in quarters and tuck 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 serve the chicken.
- 5. Cut about half the butter into small pieces and place the pieces 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.
- 6. 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.
- 7. Place the bird directly on the vegetables in the roasting pan and place in the oven on the bottom rack for 20 minutes, until the skin starts to brown nicely.
- Make the basting mixture
- 8. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the smashed garlic and place over very low heat. You will use this to baste the chicken while it’s roasting.
- 9. 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!
- 10. 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.
- To serve
- 11. 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 aluminum foil and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before you carve it.
- 12. 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 crisp 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.