Herb Roasted Chicken has perfectly crisped skin and is always juicy and deeply flavorful. Even on the busiest weeks, I still do my best to cook our meals instead of eating out or picking up food to-go. This is almost always part of the plan – it takes 5 minutes of prep and a little bit of forethought.
This Herb Roasted Chicken recipe is an extra-speedy version of the famed Zuni Chicken. (Deb, of Smitten Kitchen, does a lovely job of the full fledged version and you can see the original recipe in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook.) The key elements that I’ve copied are seasoning a day early and allowing the skin to dry out, uncovered in the refrigerator and flipping the chicken as it roasts to evenly crisp the skin. As a bonus, you can open the fridge every so often and crack corny jokes like, “There’s a fowl smell in here.” (I’m looking at you, Gary. 😉 )
What I love about this herb roasted chicken is that we’ll eat on it, in one way or another, for nearly a week. With just two of us, we’ll eat the legs and thighs on the first evening. And maybe some (or all) of the crispy skin if no one is looking. Then the breast will last us for two more meals on sandwiches, sliced on salad, tossed into pasta with vegetables or stirred into soup or chili.
And I always make stock. It’s the simplest thing and tastes nothing like what you pour from a can or box – so much better! I add the carcass and the contents of the little bag of treasures that I’ve pulled from the chicken before roasting (neck, etc.) to a large pot, cover it with water, then add a quartered onion, a handful of fresh parsley, some chopped celery, several peppercorns and maybe a bay leaf. I let this mixture simmer away for a few hours, until the liquid has reduced by about half and has a rich, golden color. Once it’s cool, I strain it and either use it that week for soup or freeze it in a canning jar.
You may have noticed what I call the ‘natural truss?’ I don’t always bother to truss, but here’s my preferred method: I make about a 1-inch slice through the skin and flesh of the lower thighs, then press the tip of each leg bone through the slices in a crisscross.
Looking for dinner tonight? Check out this super simple recipe for Crispy Chicken Thighs – they’re delicious, easy and you don’t need to begin the night before! 😉
- 1 4-1/2 pound to 5 whole chicken patted dry
- 2 tablespoons herb salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- The evening before you plan to roast the chicken, place a flat baking or cooling rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet.
- Place chicken on rack, breast-side up. Sprinkle herb salt all over chicken and lightly rub it into the breast and onto the legs and thighs. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
- Refrigerate uncovered for 12 to 24 hours (this will make the skin extra crispy!)
- One hour before you're ready to roast the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator.
- When you're ready to bake, place a 10-inch cast iron skillet on the center rack of the oven. Preheat oven to 450°F.
- When oven has reached temperature, the cast iron pan will be very hot. Carefully place the chicken, breast-side up into the hot pan. It should really sizzle!
- After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 425°F. Flip chicken so it is back-side up.
- After 20 minutes, flip the chicken once more, so that it's breast-side up and roast 20 minutes more.
- Remove chicken from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
- Carve and Serve.