Friday, January 25, 2013

Best Roast Chicken Ever

Barbara is a wizard! Magical roast chicken.
This is not hyperbole. I have this cookbook and have been cooking this roast chicken for probably about 15 years. Barbara Kafka is a genius. Her recipe for roast chicken is the most fabulous-no-holds-barred-get-out-of-the-way-Katie-bar-the-door amazing thing you've ever had. (That isn't even me.) If you think you have the best roast chicken recipe and it's not this one - you don't.

Roast potatoes along side to serve with the sauce. Divine!

UPDATE!!! I should have written "cooking roast chicken this way" instead of "cooking this roast chicken". My inattentive writing has already been noted. Damn! I have smart readers. Thanks, FrankC, for keeping me on my toes! HAHAHAA!

Barbara Kafka's Simplest Roast Chicken
Adapted from Roasting: A Simple Art (William Morrow, 1995)
Serves 2 to 4

Photo by Nicole Franzen
5- to 6-pound chicken at room temperature, wing tips removed
1 lemon, halved
4 whole garlic cloves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup chicken stock, water, fruit juice, or wine for optional deglazing

1. Place rack on second level from bottom of oven. Heat oven to 500°F (or for convection, reduce to 450°F).
2. Remove the fat from the tail and crop end of the chicken. Freeze the neck and giblets for stock. Reserve chicken livers for another use.
3. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemon, garlic, and butter, if using. Season the cavity and skin with salt and pepper.
4. Place the chicken in a 12 x 8 x 1 1/2-inch roasting pan breast side up. Put in the oven legs first and roast 50 to 60 minutes, or until the juices run clear. After the first 10 minutes, move the chicken with a wooden spoon or spatula to keep it from sticking.
5. Remove the chicken to a platter by placing a large wooden spoon into the tail end and balancing the chicken with a kitchen spoon pressed against the crop end. As you lift the chicken, carefully tilt it over the roasting pan so that all the juices run out and into the pan.
6. Optional: Pour off or spoon out excess fat from the roasting pan and put the roasting pan on top of the stove. Add the stock or other liquid and bring the contents of the pan to a boil, while scraping the bottom vigorously with a wooden spoon. Let reduce by half. Serve the sauce over the chicken or, for crisp skin, in a sauceboat. I've made a few changes over the years. Jacques Pepin makes a roast chicken that he serves with a sauce that is heavenly.

Do. This.

About halfway through cooking, add more garlic cloves (3 to 4 - skins and all. This is simple, folks. Don't make it hard.) in the pan with the chicken. When the chicken is done and you've removed it to a platter, saving all the juices in the pan, deglaze with liquid to scrape up the lovely lovely crusty drippings. Then transfer the drippings WITH the roasted garlic cloves to a blender and blend into a creamy, garlic sauce. Strain well into a gravy boat. OMG! This is good.

To make the roast potatoes:

Peel and cut in half, then cut each half in quarters lengthwise, as many potatoes as you want. I typically use two for a family of four. Put them all in a glass roasting pan and add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil, making sure it covers all the potatoes well. Add a couple of tablespoons of butter in small dabs over the top of the potatoes and then salt and pepper well. Add to oven alongside the chicken about 10 minutes into the cooking time of the chicken. The potatoes need to roast about 45 to 50 minutes, so adjust time accordingly. Don't mess with them AT ALL as they roast. When they are sufficiently crusted with roasted deliciousness, they will come out of the pan easily. If you mess with them before they have roasted to perfection, they will stick.

Serve the carved chicken and roasted potatoes with the sauce.

Die and go to heaven.


  1. "I . . . have been cooking this roast chicken for probably about 15 years."
    Should be ready by now.

    1. Maybe that's the reason for all that smoke....hmmm.....

      Your literal interpretation reminds me of this joke:

      A woman asks a male friend ....

      "Could you please go shopping for me and buy one carton of milk, and if they have eggs, get six?"

      A short time later he comes back with six cartons of milk.

      She asks him, "Why did you buy six cartons of milk?"

      He replied, "They had eggs."

  2. Oh, another J. Pepin' fan! Love the man, not snobbish and very, very good cook.

    A question: you get two potatoes for a family of four? Your family must be very strong-willed...

    1. I ADORE Jacques Pepin. A true lover of good food. And you're absolutely correct. No attitude at ALL. Lovely man.

      HAHA! No...we're just huge meat eaters. Unapologetic carnivores.

  3. I like Franz Kafka chicken. You stick it in the oven overnight and a giant cockroach comes out in the morning.

    1. and a giant cockroach comes out in the morning.

      And that's what you eat. heh...It's soooo Kafka.