Crispy Roast Chicken

Keep It Simple

One of the best things I've ever eaten is the fire roasted chicken at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco.  Its crispy skin and juicy meat had me at hello.  Since I crave this chicken so often, I decided to try my hand at recreating it on the East Coast.

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Crispy Roast Chicken

Recipe adapted from New York Times: Cooking

Cost: $12
Feeds: 4 humans and 2 cats  >^..^<


What You Need:

1 small Chicken
4 sprigs Fresh Oregano (or sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram)
1 Lemon
2 Tbsp Ras El Hanout (optional)
Kosher salt

What to do with it:

Remove and discard the lump of fat and the bag of organs inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry (a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown).

Slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making two little pockets, then use a fingertip to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Push an oregano sprig into each of the four pockets.

Using about 3/4 tsp kosher salt per pound of chicken and pepper to taste, season the chicken liberally all over with salt, pepper and ras el hanout. Sprinkle a little of the salt inside the cavity and on the backbone. Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders (I find it unnecessary to truss the legs). Cover loosely and refrigerate for an hour.

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat the oven to 500º. Depending on your oven and the size of your bird, you may need to adjust the heat to as high as 500º or as low as 450º during roasting to brown the chicken properly.

Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Pat the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle.

Place in the center of the oven and watch for it to start sizzling and browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over* (drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking) and reduce heat to 450º. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes (I did 13 minutes), depending on size, then flip back over to re-crisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes (seven minutes for me). Total oven time will be 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate. Pour the clear fat from the pan, leaving the drippings. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan and swirl. Slash the stretched skin between the thighs and breasts of the chicken, then tilt the bird and plate over the roasting pan to drain the juice into the drippings. As the chicken rests, tilt the roasting pan and skim the last of the fat. Place over medium-low heat, add any juice that has collected under the chicken, and bring to a simmer. Stir and scrape.

Cut the chicken into pieces and pour the pan drippings over the chicken. 

I served mine with roasted vegetables: zucchini, green pepper, yellow onion and carrots - tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast them in a baking dish during the last 20 minutes the chicken is cooking (just put them on the rack under the chicken). Continue to cook the veggies while the chicken rests (at least seven minutes) and serve when chicken is ready. Gobble!


*Hangry District Tip: Flipping the bird (ha) can be intimidating.  I just grabbed the wing on the right and the leg on the left and flipped that sucker over.  It's effing hot, so use some paper towels or a kitchen towel to grab the winged beast.