Classic Roast Chicken with Croutons
There are few foods more comforting than a roast chicken. It’s one of those simple dishes that we’re always trying to perfect, to put a unique spin on, or find the best method of making. My recipe is pretty uncomplicated -- salt and pepper the heck out of it, stuff it with some garlic, onion and herbs, and roast it on top of sliced baguette in an iron skillet.
The baguette soaks up all of the delicious chicken drippings and gets crispy crunchy toasted, like croutons, from the skillet. I always make a salad with tangy vinaigrette to go alongside to give an acidic moment to balance out the fat.
Something about roast chicken makes me long for Paris, maybe because the French do it better than anyone. Whenever we have it for dinner, I put on an album of classic French café music and I serve it with a side of Dijon mustard, just like they do in a bistro.
For wine, try a French chardonnay or a pinot noir.
For the Chicken
One 4- to 5-pound roaster chicken
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 head garlic, sliced in half
1/2 medium yellow onion
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Bistro Salad
1 head Bibb lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Handful of chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as chives, tarragon and parsley (about 1/4 cup)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. When hot, put a cast-iron skillet in the oven to preheat, about 5 minutes.
Dry the chicken with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Generously season the chicken inside and out with the salt mixture. Stuff the chicken cavity with the thyme, rosemary, garlic and onion.
Slice the baguette on the bias into five 2-inch-thick slices. Spread some butter on one side of each slice. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and arrange the baguette slices buttered-side down in the center of the skillet. Place the chicken on the baguette slices, making sure all of the bread is covered by the chicken. Roast until the chicken is golden brown, an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F and the juices run clear, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Remove the baguette slices from the skillet and reserve.
Carve the chicken and serve with the baguette slices, Dijon mustard and Bistro Salad.
Combine the lettuce and herbs in a medium bowl. In a glass jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, shallots, mustard, salt and pepper. Shake to combine. Pour over the salad and toss. Serve immediately.