This recipe is a variation of the great Thomas Keller, who owns the renowned “French Laundry” restaurant, in the Napa Valley wine region. Olive oil has been substituted for butter to give the recipe a healthier flair.
One 4- to 4 ½ -pound chicken
12 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and finely chopped
12 sprigs of thyme
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt (or sea salt)
Freshly ground black pepper
Butchers twine (you can ask your butcher for a 3 foot piece when you buy the chicken)
Remove chicken from the package and remove the innards. It’s recommended to leave the chicken in the refrigerator for a day or two uncovered. This dries the skin and thus helps it become crispier during roasting. Make sure to turn the chicken over every few hours to make sure both sides become dry.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 ½ to 2 hours before cooking. The chicken will cook more evenly at room temperature.
Liberally apply olive oil to the inner cavity of the chicken and the outside. Rub half the garlic inside the chicken, and apply salt and pepper liberally. Make sure to massage all the ingredients inside the bird to infuse all the flavors. Insert 6 sprigs of thyme into the cavity of the chicken.
Next you will do something called trussing a chicken. This entails tying up the legs and the wings with butchers twine, to ensure even cooking. Just Google “trussing a chicken” and there will be numerous videos to show you how to do this. It’s actually a really easy process.
Take the remaining thyme sprigs, strip them from their stems, and finely chop. Add chopped thyme, garlic, salt and pepper to both sides of the outer chicken.
Place in a roasting pan with a wire rack. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Note: Oven cooking times will vary so check chicken often to make sure the oven temperature is correct. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes turning once after 15 minutes. You can use tongs; just try not to pierce the skin when turning. You should see the skin to slightly brown during this first phase of cooking.
Turn down oven to 400 degrees, and cook another 45 to 55 minutes. Make sure to turn the chicken every 15 minutes while cooking. You can insert a meat thermometer into the breast section of the chicken to check for doneness. If the thermometer reads 160 degrees, it should be ready to go. Just remember, ovens and cooking times vary, so with practice, you’ll be able to cook a perfect, delicious chicken on a regular basis!