A very basic, tasty way to roast chicken.


  • 1 fresh 3-1/2 pound chicken
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 fresh sage leaves (or 4 sprigs of fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence)
  • 1 large lemon, cut in 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
  • cup mixed roughly chopped carrots and onions
  • Sauce:
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons minced shallots
    • cup dry (white) vermouth or dry white wine
    • cup chicken stock
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 tbsp unsalted butter (optional)


Set the rack on the lower middle level and preheat the oven to 425°F.

Rinse the chicken thoroughly, inside and out, under hot water, then dry it with paper towels. Remove any lumps of fat from inside the cavity near the tail opening.

To make carving easier, remove the wishbone. Lift the flap of neck skin and insert a thin, sharp knife into each end of the breast; then slice diagonally along both sides of the wishbone. Use your finger and thumb to loose the bone, pry it out at the top, and pull it down. If it breaks, carefully wiggle out the pieces.

Trim the small bony protrusions, or "nubbins," from the wing tip joint. Then fold the wings up against the breast, where they will be held in place by the V-rack.

Salt and pepper the cavity and stuff it with the sage leaves and 3 or 4 thick slices of lemon; give the slices a squeeze as you put them in. Massage the butter over the entire chicken skin, including undersides, then salt generously.

Tie the ends of the drumsticks together with twine. Arrange the chicken breast-up on the rack in the roasting pan and tuck the flap of neck skin underneath. Squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon pieces over the top.

Set the roasting pan in the oven. After 15 minutes, lower heat to 350°F. When the chicken is beginning to brown rapidly, baste with accumulated pan juices. Roast for an hour, adding the onions and carrots after 30 minutes and basting several times. Very carefully test for doneness, checking for easy movement in the leg joint and clear color in the juices. Return it to the oven if there is any sign of pinkness. (A small chicken will roast in about 1-1/4 hours, a larger one may take 1-1/2 hours or more.) When done, remove the chicken from the rack and set it on a board to rest for 15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to retreat back into the flesh.

Remove the chicken to rest; have ready a strainer set over a small saucepan. Tilt the roasting pan so the remaining fat and juices accumulate in one corner. Carefully spoon off most of the fat (reserve for vinaigrette or other uses).

Place the roasting pan on a stove burner over medium heat; add the shallots and stir for a moment until sizzling. Pour in the wine or vermouth and the stock and heat rapidly to a simmer, scraping up all the glazed bits in the pan. Cook briefly until the glaze is melted and the liquid is slightly syrupy. Strain into the saucepan, pressing the strained bits to release their juice. (If you like the bits, don’t strain.)

Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning; you may add more wine or stock and boil it down a bit to thicken. Whisk in the butter just before serving, if you wish, for a richer finish.

Basic, Chicken
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