Like many people, I love a good roast chicken. The gold standard of roast chickens can be found at Palena Cafe in Northwest Washington, D.C. I have never attempted to recreate Frank Ruta’s masterpiece. There are many ways to make a good roast chicken and each person has his or her preference as to how it should be done. For several years, I made various recipes for roast chicken and they were all good, none of them captured what I was looking for in a roast chicken. Two years ago, I found a recipe for Roasted Herb Chicken with Morels and and Watercress Salad in Food and Wine Magazine. The chicken was the absolute best roast chicken I have ever made and from that day forward, I never made roast chicken differently (although I have stopped making the morel and watercress salad and opted for roasted vegetables and a simple salad instead).
Roasted Herb Chicken adapted from Food & Wine Magazine
One 3 1/2 lb. chicken
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
3/4 cup chopped mixed herbs such as rosemary, parsley, oregano, and thyme
1 or 2 heads garlic separated into unpeeled cloves
1 cup dry white wine
Preheat oven to 450°. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper and set it in a roasting pan. Scatter garlic in the pan. Roast for 15 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Slowly pour 1/2 cup of the white wine over the top of the chicken, being careful not to disturb the herb crust. Roast for an additional 15 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300° and roast for 30 minutes.
Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of the white wine over the chicken. Roast for an additional 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the bird’s inner thigh registers 165°.
Carve the chicken and serve with roasted garlic cloves.
The chicken came out perfectly and was delicious. By roasting the chicken for 450° for the first 15 minutes, the herbs were able to form a nice crust on the chicken. Pouring a half cup of wine at two points during the roasting time ensured a moist and juicy chicken as well as a delightful sauce. My favorite part may actually be the roasted garlic. Take the peel off of one of these babies and pop it in your mouth with a bite of chicken and you may never try another roast chicken again.