It takes a lot for me to say something is perfect. Perfection isn’t really worth striving for but for us this chicken is as close as it gets.
There are endless variations. Sometimes there’s a mustard laced butter studded with herbs that I nudge under the skin. Other times there are a few lemons and shallots tucked into the cavity. More often than not there is a bed of potatoes roasting alongside But this version, in its most basic form is the one I turn to again and again. And as the first sign of cooler weather is making its appearance I have this simple roast chicken to look forward to on repeat.
While the herbs are still abundant in the market make this vibrant sauce to accompany. Later in the season I recommend switching to a seedy mustard aioli with perhaps a few pickled peppers finely minced and thrown in there as well.
1 bunch scallions (about 5 to 7), white and light green parts thinly sliced
2 cups herbs (mint, dill, chives) finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Zest and juice from a medium lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
This step is absolutely key. Thoroughly salt and pepper the chicken 12 - 24 hours in advance.
We were once taught that salt should be applied just before cooking meat as it draws water out leaving the meat dry and tough BUT when you salt well in advance some water is drawn out and then reabsorbed. The salt not only flavors the skin but makes its way deeper into the flesh seasoning throughout. Each bite is perfectly seasoned - not tasting salty but rather more of chicken. Salting 1-3 days in advance actually makes the meat more moist and tender. I do this for virtually all meat, with the exception of tender fish.
Place the chicken on a tray or large bowl and let it sit uncovered in the bottom of the fridge away from foods that will be consumed raw. Left uncovered the skin dries out and gets even more delightfully crisp in the oven.
Having said all that there are times when I've not planned ahead and simply salted even as little as 30 minutes in advance and still enjoyed the results.
To Truss or Not to Truss
I don’t bother tying the chicken into some sort of position fit for a contortionist. I like the hot oven to reach as much of the skin as possible.
Preheat the oven to 450°F for at least 30 minutes prior to roasting. The hot oven is what makes the skin blister and turn deep golden.
Take the chicken out of the fridge an hour before roasting so it has a chance to come to take the chill off which will allow the meat to cook more evenly.
Over high-heat add a bit of olive oil and butter to a 12-inch cast iron skillet (you can also use a small roasting pan or skillet). When the skillet is smoking carefully add the chicken breast side down. Sear the chicken for 3 minutes and then carefully transfer the entire skillet into the pre-heated oven. This is a method I developed out common sense and a bit of laziness, I admit. Searing first on the stove sets the skin and keeps the breast moist. I don’t bother basting, flipping, poking or prodding the chicken until it’s been in the oven for 45 minutes. At that point I plunge a thermometer deep into the thigh and remove it from the oven when the temperature reaches 160°F. I then let the chicken rest in the pan for 20 minutes before I serve or cut into it. During the resting time the meat will continue to cook and come up to the safe 165°F. It will also allow the meat to relax and the juices to distribute.
My favorite part of this process, besides eating dinner, is flipping over the chicken after its roasted to reveal a dark, crusty chicken speckled with pepper and covered in a salty, crunchy skin. Always serve the chicken breast side up.
Prepare the green sauce.
In a bowl stir together the scallions, herbs, garlic, lemon (zest and juice), olive oil, salt, pepper, and mustard seeds. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. It should be quite pungent.
We painted the walls Origami White by Sherwin Williams. The concrete floor will get a clear varnish over the top.
The exterior was painted to resemble a Pendelton blanket now it’s a very dark gray/blue (really, it’s nearly black) with white trim. Deck stain TBD. Wedding day, birth of my children, pub day, hanging that sign in the window. Memorable life moments.
My absence from the blog as of late is not solely indicative of pure summer fun although there has been plenty of that. Lately there’s been more manual labor than desk time as we are working so hard to build our dream; the first ever Not Without Salt Shop!
As I type splatters of black and white paint dot my fingernails and a big grin that just won’t quit covers my face as I attempt to find the words that will sufficiently illustrate my excitement. This space, located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle (which is a must visit according to me and TheKitchn), will primarily be the place for me to take photos, develop recipes, write and for Gabe to continue to create the videos that we’ve been sharing the last few months. We’ll also have all of our retail products plus a few of my favorite things (I feel like Oprah) to sell and we’ll host intimate lifestyle workshops (the space is just shy of 500 square feet) and private dinners so I can pretend that I still work in restaurants. It’s a place for us to interact with you all beyond the computer screen and that is what I’m most excited about. My goal from day one with this space is that when people walk in they will feel like they are stepping into my home. Most likely there will be fresh baked cookies available upon entering.
Two weeks ago this place was a hair salon appropriately named the Hairstream. It’s 10 x 40 simple structure that does indeed resemble a trailer. There were walls in various shades of yellow and green with antiques and artwork filling every bit of its diminutive size. We purchased a shop vac to rid the space of the hair although a few stray strands may be providing a nice texture to the freshly painted white walls. My friend Chloe has stepped in to help us with the design and I am currently stressing about finding the perfect table and which stove is best and what color should I stain the deck and will people actually come?!
Those of you who follow me on Instagram and are kind enough to humor me by watching me fret about all these decisions on Insta-story have been incredibly helpful. I’ll be sharing the entire process over there and here I’ll step in every now and again to give an update. But don’t worry I have my absolute favorite roast chicken to share with you real soon. In the meantime, back to painting.
Left: Paint, cleaning wipes, sand paper and watching Friends on the computer while I paint for hours on end. Right: Thank goodness for all the delivery options in Seattle. This is from Billy Beach – do not live your life without enjoying the Ballard Crunch Roll. Speaking of delicious things – when you come visit me in the shop do yourself a favor and enjoy the best iced mocha or your life from Chocolate Vitale.