1 x 2 to 3-lb / 1 1/3-kg farm-raised chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp minced thyme (optional)
Unsalted butter to taste
Dijon mustard to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 450F / 230C. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird.
2. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it’s a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs are tied close to the body, and the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.
Next, salt the chicken with about 1 tbsp of salt – I like to rain the salt over the bird so it has a nice, uniform coating that will results in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin. When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.
3. Place the chicken i na saute pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone – I don’t baste it, I don’t add butter, you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don’t want. Roast for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the juices run clear. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if desired, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.
4. Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oyster, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded there, and give the other to the person I’m cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip – until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook’s reward.
5. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each half. The preparation is not meat to be super elegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You’ll start using a knife and fork, but you’ll finish with your fingers because it’s so good.
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