The Humble Roast Chicken

There are fewer food items I will get more passionate about than a roast chicken. When I stroll the grocery store and pass the shriveled up rotisserie chickens I ramble to my husband about the ease and money savings of a simple roast chicken at home. When I have a bland or dry piece of chicken (prepared by someone other than yours truly, obviously >eyeroll<) my inner monologue screams about the juiciness of a roast chicken breast. And yet, no one makes it.

I was taught the basics of a roast chicken while stumbling through culinary school, but the true value of the bird resonated with me the first time I prepared it for a dinner party. I was strapped for cash and strapped for time, yet I had somehow volunteered to host 4 people for dinner. I scraped together a roast chicken and some spaetzle with mushrooms and gravy. I think the whole meal cost me $15, and I was able to feed 5 people. Unbeknownst to me, one of my guests had grown up in Alsace, France, but had been living in America for well over 30 years. I set out my humble roast chicken and spaetzle and tears began rolling down my guest’s face. “It’s just like home! No one has ever roasted me a chicken here!” he cried. That was enough for me, if a roast chicken could bring a grown man to tears then I was going to keep right on serving it.

And so I have.

Over the years I’ve tweaked my roast chicken. I used to bind the legs in twine in fancy BDSM reminiscent knots that I learned while at school. As I’ve aged, I’ve sought the easy way out, and for me that means hanging up the twine and whipping out the kitchen shears. I use the kitchen shears to cut out the spine of the back of the chicken (known as spatchcocking). This allows the bird to sit beautifully in my 100 year old cast iron skillet, which makes for a lovely presentation and even better dinner party conversation.

The bird can be flavored a variety of ways. I’ll include my favorite below. It is loosely based on an old Jacques Pepin (the king of roast chicken) standby, and includes mustard, soy and herbs de Provence.

There is one other tip I’d like to give you before setting about to instruct you on the intricacies of roast chicken. Invest in a probe thermometer. I bought the one linked here and it works just fine. Is it the best of the best? No, but it does what I need it to, and that’s good enough for me. The probe thermometer allows you to monitor the temperature of the chicken (and any other meat you cook) without opening and closing the oven door. It’s particularly excellent in a dinner party environment because you can set it to the specific temperature you need and it will beep at you when it’s ready. This allows you to float around the room, telling delightful stories and refreshing your guest’s beverages (or sit on your porch and smoke cigarettes and do keg stands, whatever you’re into).

All I ask of you is that you not let the “burden” of a roast chicken scare you away. It takes about 15 minutes of active prep time before you close it in the oven and walk away. That’s it, 15 minutes and you too could bring a grown man to tears.


The Humble Roast Chicken

Spatchcocking makes this recipe quick and simple. Invest in a good pair of kitchen shears and get to snipping.

  • Author: ljacksnacks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 45
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Category: Meat
  • Method: Roasting
  • Cuisine: French


  • 1 Roasting Chicken
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon or Whole Grain Mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Suace
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Cut the spine out of your chicken. Do so by placing the bird breast side down and positioning the shears at the bottom of the carcass on one side of the fatty chicken tail (base of the spine). Cut through the skin and bones all the way up to the opening at the top of the bird. Repeat on the other side.
  3. If you intend to carve the bird, it’s best to remove the wishbone as well. If this seems a daunting task to you, forget about it. It’s not going to have any true impact on the flavor of your bird.
  4. Pat your chicken dry and position it in your roasting vessel. I use my cast iron skillet, but you could use a sheet tray or really any shallow oven safe pan that will fit the bird.
  5. Generously salt the skin of the chicken
  6. In a medium bowl mix the mustard, garlic, soy, lemon, herbs, olive oil and worchestershire. Stir to combine.
  7. Pour the sauce mixture over the bird and massage into the skin and into any cavities where the skin pulls away from the muscle.
  8. Insert the pointy part of probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast meat. Rest the temperature screen on top of the stove and put the chicken into the preheated oven.
  9. Set the temperature to 160 on your probe thermometer. The thermometer will beep when the chicken has reached 160 F.
  10. Remove the chicken from the oven when it has reached 160 F and tent it with aluminum foil so that the temperature continues to rise to a safe 165 F.
  11. Allow the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. You may now carve your bird, or refrigerate it for later use.

Keywords: Roast Chicken, Spatchcock Chicken, French Chicken, Classic Chicken, Roasting, Soy Roasted Chicken, Mustard Chicken, The Humble Chicken, The Best Roast Chicken



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