I discovered that making a really good roast chicken is actually incredibly easy. A roast chicken suggests some sort of a special event, like Thanksgiving or a family Sunday supper, and so you think that this type of dish requires a lot of time and preparation. I came across a Thomas Keller roast chicken recipe on Epicurious–the title “My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken” caught my eye–and I was impressed by how little work was involved. Basically you salt and pepper the bird everywhere, stick it in the oven for about an hour, let it rest in its own juices for 15 minutes, and you’re done. I thought a Thomas Keller recipe would involve a lot of complicated steps, but it really is very easy to execute, as demonstrated by my ability to successfully execute it multiple times.
The recipe recommends that you use a 2-3 pound bird, rinse it and dry it out well. My fear of salmonella and chicken juice on the sink and counter led me to cut out the rinsing part. I took my heritage bird out of its packaging, patted it dry with paper towels and sprinkled salt everywhere. Lots of salt, on the skin outside and plenty in the cavity. I also sprinkled black pepper on the skin. Then I nestled my chicken into a foil-lined oven pan. The recipe also calls on you to truss the chicken, which involves tying up the legs with twine, and again, I skipped this part, because my chicken had already arrived pre-trussed.
After roasting the chicken at 450 degrees for 55 minutes (the recipe suggests between 50-60 minutes), I took the chicken out and sprinkled minced thyme over the skin. I also used a spoon to ladle out the golden chicken fat juices that were lying at the bottom of the pan and poured it all over the skin. I let it rest for 15 minutes and served it to everyone. It was met with universal approval. I do think that using a smaller bird yields better results. The time I made this with a 2.5 lb bird was marginally tastier then when I used a 3.5 lb bird. But again, this is splitting hairs. The point is, this chicken is super simple to make, and all you really need is salt, pepper and an oven.