September 7, 2015

Pulet Rôti (Roast Chicken)

One of my cooking projects these past few months has been trying to find my favorite roast chicken recipe.  Truth be told, I never roasted a chicken until now.

There are so many popular recipes out there, but I knew if I was going to roast a chicken, I should start with Julia Child's recipe.  After all, Julia Child once said that you could judge the quality of a restaurant by their roast chicken.  While many of her recipes are complex and involve several ingredients, her techniques and tips for roasting a chicken are very simple and straightforward.

Of course, I had to set the mood for cooking with a glass of wine and Edith Piaf playing in the background.  :)

This recipe involves only a few ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen: butter, salt, oil, onions, and carrots.   For the sauce, you need shallots or green onions, chicken stock, butter, salt, and pepper.  In trade for the few ingredients, you need to stay in the kitchen closely because you need to baste and turn the chicken continuously--every eight to ten minutes.  The continuous turning and basting ensures that the chicken is evenly browned  and tender.

Well, all of the work with basting and turning the chicken paid off.  This chicken came out with very crispy skin and juicy meat.  It was delicious and savory.  I was worried if there would be enough flavor since it did not involve any aromatics.  Silly me.  I was reminded that you can never underestimate the power of butter.  It added so much flavor and richness to the chicken.  It was a "winner winner chicken dinner." :)

Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some other roast chicken recipes that I've been trying.  It's a great dinner to make for a Sunday night because you can use the leftovers for salads and other meals during the week!

Happy Fall, everyone!

Pulet Rôti (Roast Chicken)
Yields 4-6 servings

For the chicken:
3 lb. roasting or frying chicken, trussed
4 tbsp. butter, at room temperature and softened
1 tbsp. oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
3/4 tsp. salt
1 large carrot, sliced
1 medium sized onion, sliced

For the sauce:
1/2 tbsp. shallot or green onion
1 cup brown chicken stock, canned chicken broth, or beef bouillon
2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature and softened
Salt and pepper, to taste

Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven, and preheat oven to 425ºF.  Prepare a roasting pan, place the vegetables at the bottom of the roasting pan, and set aside.

Prepare the basting liquid.  In a small saucepan, melt 2 tbsp. butter and then add 1 tbsp. cooking oil.  Set aside with a basting brush.

Dry the chicken thoroughly with paper towels.  Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with 1/4 tsp. of salt, and smear in 1 tbsp. of butter inside the chicken.  Rub the skin with the rest of the butter.

The first step in cooking is to brown the chicken, which takes a total of 15 minutes.  Place the chicken breast side up in the roasting pan. Allow the chicken to brown lightly for five minutes, and then remove it from the oven, turn the chicken onto the left side, and baste quickly with the basting liquid. Return to oven for another five minutes.  Remove the chicken from the oven, turn the chicken onto its right side, and baste quickly.  Return to oven for final five minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF.

The chicken will now need to roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Leave the chicken on its side, and remove the chicken from the oven to quickly baste it every 8 to 10 minutes, using the fat in the roasting pan when the basting liquid is exhausted.   After 45 minutes have elapsed (or after the 4th time you have basted the chicken), remove the chicken from the oven,  use 1/4 tsp. of salt to salt the chicken, and turn it onto its other side.  Continue basting every 8 to 10 minutes.

Fifteen minutes before the end of the roasting time, salt the chicken again using another 1/4 tsp. of salt, and then turn the chicken breast up.  Continue basting.

When the chicken is done, discard the trussing strings, and set the chicken onto a platter.  It should sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before being carved.

For the sauce:
Remove all but two tablespoons of fat from the pan.  Add to a small saucepan, and stir in the minced shallot or onion.  Cook over medium heat for about two minutes.  Add the stock and increase to medium high heat until it reaches boiling point, allow the liquid to reduce to about 1/2 cup.  Add salt and pepper, and whisk in the butter.  Serve with the chicken.

Source: Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking


  1. Ah, the power of butter! I haven't roasted a chicken in ages but it sounds pretty easy, and delicious!

  2. The chicken looks great and the color is so nice. My problem of roasting chicken is some parts of the chicken always burn, but the other parts is uncooked or inside is not cooked. Guess like what you mentioned, need to turn it and do basting very often to prevent this. I am not sure is my browser display problem or some other reasons. It seems that the description of sauce making is not finished. :)

    1. That should be fixed now, thanks for letting me know!

  3. I'm glad your first attempt at roast chicken turned out well. You don't see the technique very often of turning and basting the chicken in the pan, but it does work. Good stuff!

    1. The French know their you know all too well!


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