There are a few dishes that everyone should know how to make well. Roasting a chicken to juicy tender perfection is a skill every carnivore should have. I’ve always used Simon Hopkinson’s recipe. Not only is he one of my favorite food writers but I figured a man who calls his book “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” has to feel pretty good about his method. And so he should. It’s downright perfect. I like it carved and laid atop a fresh spring salad with a dressing made of the chicken’s cooking juices which are soaked up by the croutons.
Roast Chicken and Bread Salad
Adapted from Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken and Other Stories
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 chicken (approx. 4lbs), try to get farm raised if you can
A few branches of fresh thyme
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1/2 cup of dry white wine
Salt and pepper
4 cups of fresh white bread, torn or cut into 2″-3″ chunks
6 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cups of mixed salad leaves
4 radishes, thinly sliced with a potato peeler
1 cup fresh peas, if you can find them (otherwise use defrosted frozen ones)
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Roughly chop the onion and put in a roasting pan large enough to fit the chicken as well as hold the juices.
3. Rub the chicken all over with the butter then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
4. Squeeze the juice of the lemon all over the chicken and then put the two lemon halves inside the bird’s cavity along with the thyme and garlic.
5. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes, then baste with the juices from the pan. Next add the wine to the pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and roast for a further 45 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices.
6. Meanwhile as your chicken is roasting, lay the bread on a cookie tray and mix well with the olive oil. Season with salt and add to the oven for the last 10-15 minutes that the chicken is roasting.
7. Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly open and let the chicken rest for 15 minutes.
8. In a large bowl, mix the leaves, radishes, peas and croutons with some of the pan juices from the roast chicken.
9. Arrange the salad on a platter. Carve the bird and lay on top of the salad. If you want to save some of the breast meat for later, you can start by serving the wings, drumsticks and thighs. Drizzle some of the remaining juices over the chicken pieces, just enough to moisten and add flavor, and serve immediately.