Crisp and Juicy Roast Chicken

Preparation info

  • Makes


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Get in There and Cook: A Master Class for the Starter Chef

Get in There and Cook

By Richard Sax

Published 1997

  • About

A roast chicken is something every accomplished home cook should be able to turn out with ease. In fact, think of this as something you can throw into the oven when you don’t even want to think about dinner.


  • 1 chicken (about pounds), giblets removed, all possible fat removed, rinsed under cold water, patted very dry with paper towels
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed, with a thin layer of skin left on
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs or a pinch of dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Watercress sprigs, for garnish


    1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Choose a roasting pan in which the chicken fits compactly. (I use an oval enameled cast-iron gratin dish.)
    2. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper, inside and out, rubbing the seasonings into the flesh. (You can reach inside the cavity just to be sure the bird is seasoned.) Tuck the garlic, thyme, and bay leaf into the cavity of the chicken.
    3. To truss: Tie the wings together to hold in place or tuck under the back of the bird. With kitchen string, tie the ends of the legs and tail skin together. Place the chicken in the pan, scatter any giblets, including the neck, around the chicken, and brush or rub with olive oil (I usually do this with my fingers, which are moisturized by the oil). Place the trussed bird on its side, with a leg upward.
    4. Roast for 25 minutes, without touching the bird. Holding the chicken with 2 spatulas or paper towels, very carefully turn it over onto its other leg. Baste once with the pan juices and roast for 25 minutes longer. Carefully turn breast side up and continue to roast, using a large metal spoon to baste the bird with the pan juices every 5 minutes or so, until the breast is nicely golden. The bird is done when you poke the thigh with a paring knife and the juices run clear and golden with no trace of pink near the bone. This usually takes about 20 minutes from the time you rearrange the bird breast up.
    5. Remove the pan from the oven; place it on a stove-top burner. Carefully transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for about 15 minutes before carving.
    6. While the bird rests, carefully pour off and discard all possible fat from the roasting pan, leaving any browned pan juices in the pan. Add ⅔ cup water and cook over medium heat, scraping up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan (these bits have that great “roasted” flavor). Simmer the juices, uncovered, until reduced by not quite half. Carve the bird and arrange on a platter. Strain the juices over and serve hot, garnished with watercress sprigs.