The Best Roast Chicken You'll Ever Have

Today, we’re continuing our month of food bloggers’ “famous recipes” with this incredible roast chicken. According to Mandy of Lady and Pups, this is the very best chicken recipe, and there is only ONE right way to eat it. Here’s how…

My Favorite Roast Chicken
by Mandy Lee of Lady and Pups

Hello friends. This is my favorite roast chicken.

If you were previously convinced that you know roast chicken, or how to do one right, well to that I say, I’m convinced that you don’t. This is a recipe forged through years of corrections, beginning from the inspiration of Thomas Keller’s roast chicken doused in thyme and garlic butter, and manipulated by my own techniques through experience, then re-polished through a vinegar bath anew. The chicken is not only accompanied by baby potatoes and garlic roasted inside its own grease, but – yes, I’m not done yet – but it has to, has to, be eaten with a runny egg, sunny-side up. That’s right. Chicken and egg. This is now a roast chicken recipe, in its entirety — a simple, elegant, yet unbeatably tasty form of perfection, worthy of those who are willing to receive it justly.

Because, equally important to the recipe, there’s only a single, correct way to eat this chicken, or any roast chicken for that matter. One cannot claim to have had a proper roast chicken unless it was done this way. That is, you have to devour it with your absolute bare hands.

I command you to tear apart this chicken from limb to limb with at least 8 of your best-able fingers. Then at last, breathe out, and let your rampant emotions settle. Take a sip of water, then bow out.

The Best Roast Chicken You'll Ever Have

The Best Roast Chicken You'll Ever Have

The Best Roast Chicken You'll Ever Have

The Best Roast Chicken You'll Ever Have

Recipe: Famous Roast Chicken With Potatoes and Eggs

You’ll need:

One 3 lbs (1500 grams) good quality, free-range chicken
1/4 cup (60 grams) rice vinegar
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
12 baby potatoes, or fingerling potatoes
1 head of garlic
2 sunny-side up eggs with runny yolks
Coarse sea salt to serve

For the Thyme and Garlic Browned Butter:

4 tbsp (57 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 grated garlic
1/4 tsp ground white pepper (not black)

Rinse/clean the chicken well and make sure the cavity is clean, then gently pat dry. Pour the rice vinegar evenly over the skin as well as the cavity of the chicken and distribute well with your hands. Let sit for 10 min, then discard any excess vinegar, but do not rinse the chicken. Set the chicken on a baking rack (to be placed over a baking sheet) then season it inside-out generously with good amount of fine sea salt and black pepper. Don’t be stingy. Let sit for another 20 min to marinate and air-dry slightly. Now preheat the oven to 465F/240C.

Use a toothpick to join and “sew” the skins around the opening of the cavity together, as well as the skins around the opening of the neck. This is important! It creates a sealed skin-suit that keeps the juice and moisture inside, and prevents the meat from drying out. I think this is more important than trussing/tying the chicken.

If you want a “classic roast chicken” look, you can twist/tuck the wing tip underneath itself, and tie the legs of the chicken together. I honestly find this unnecessary, as it actually prevents the skins of the inner thighs from crisping properly. But some people think this looks nicer, so it’s your call.

In the baking sheet (beneath the rack where the chicken will be baked), scatter baby potatoes and 1 head of garlic that’s cut across from the middle (place the cut-side facing down), and season with salt and pepper. Now place the baking-rack with the chicken on top, WITH THE BREAST-SIDE FACING DOWN.* Roast the chicken on the middle-lower rack for 15 min, then turn it over with the breast-side up, and roast for another 20 min until golden and crispy all around. If your chicken is bigger, say 4 lbs, you may need to roast it for 10 min more. In the last 10 min, if your chicken is browning too slowly or too quickly, turn the temperature up or down by 50F/10C to adjust.

(*NOTE* Roasting breast-side down first is not typical, but I find that in home ovens, the heat is usually the most intense from above, browning and drying the breasts that’s facing up, way too quickly than the legs that are facing the sides. By baking the chicken breast-side down first, it give the legs a head-start, as well as giving you a more evenly browned chicken all around.)

TO MAKE THE THYME/GARLIC BROWNED BUTTER: While the chicken’s roasting, heat unsalted butter in a sauce pot over medium-high heat until it’s about to brown, approx 3 min. Add the fresh thyme leaves, which should pop immediately in the hot butter. Once the popping starts to subside, turn off heat, then add the grated garlic and ground white pepper. Stir quickly to cook the garlic in the residual heat, then set aside.

Once the chicken is properly roasted, gently transfer it to a serving dish, and pour the thyme/garlic browned butter all over the chicken. Let rest for 10 min. Remove the roasted potatoes/garlic from the chicken-grease, and scatter around the chicken (save the grease! fantastic on vegetables!).

To serve, remove the toothpicks and kitchen-strings. The juice from the cavity should run out into the dish, and gets mixed with the thyme/garlic butter. With the help of a kitchen scissor, start dismembering the chicken with your bare hands. Drizzle the butter/juice all over the pieces and the runny eggs (*avoid the crispy skins so they stay crispy!*), then eat with your hands and mop everything up… the yolks, the butter and juice, the meat and crispy skins… with great enthusiasm. Then pick the bones clean.

The Best Roast Chicken You'll Ever Have

The Best Roast Chicken You'll Ever Have

Thank you so much, Mandy!

P.S. More recipes, including an insanely delicious Boursin pasta and chicken parm meatballs.

(Photos and recipe by Mandy Lee. This series is edited by Caroline Donofrio.)