A somewhat adapted version of Julia Child’s “Poulet Rôti” (Roast Chicken), this chicken tasted good but it smelled even better. Oh man did it smell good while it was roasting. I’m pretty sure the whole hallway was jealous of me the night I made it. This is the first and simplest chicken recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking: relatively simple, straightforward, and delicious. This is an adapted version (no trussing, no fussing) which purists may dislike but you know what? Life is compromise.
Julia Child’s Roast Chicken, Slightly Simplified
A 3 lb chicken
1/4 tsp salt, plus more for later
2 T butter, softened, plus more for later
An onion and a carrot, sliced
For basting: a saucepan with 2 T melted butter, 1 T good cooking oil (I used olive oil), and a basting brush
1 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with the salt and a little butter. Dry the outside of the chicken and rub it with the rest of the butter.
Place the chicken breast up in a shallow roasting pan and place the sliced veggies around it. Set it on a rack in the middle of the oven and let it brown for about 15 minutes, turning it to one side and then the other every 5 minutes and basting it with the butter and oil.
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees, leaving the chicken on its side.
Every 10 minutes, baste the chicken again. Eventually there should be enough fat in the roasting pan to use for basting (along with the butter/oil mixture).
After about 35-40 minutes, sprinkle the chicken with salt and turn it onto its other side.
After another 15 minutes, place the chicken breast up, salt again, and continue basting.
Now for the beauty part: Julia Child says that signs that the chicken is about done (a 3 lb chicken should take about 1 hour and 15 minutes, give or take) include:
“A sudden rain of sputters in the oven, a swelling of the breast and slight puff of the skin, the drumstick is tender when pressed and can be moved in its socket.”
It’s almost poetry.
Best test: when you prick the thickest part of the drumstick with a fork, juices run clear yellow.
Let it sit outside the oven for 5-10 minutes before carving (apparently this will let the juices “retreat back into the tissues.” Yum.).
Scoop out all the fat from the roasting pan along with some of the roasted onions and combine with stock in a saucepan. Let reduce to about a half cup then add a little more butter and salt and pepper.. drizzle over the chicken before serving and place the rest in a sauceboat on the table.