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Roasted chicken is probably the number one ‘meal’ staple in our house. We use it for many different things and finally found the absolute best way to make it. This recipe is from Always Home: A Daughter’s Recipes & Stories by Fanny Singer. We make an adjustment on the length of time we cook the chicken, but other than that, full disclaimer that this is Fanny’s recipe. By the way, if you are a fan of Alice Waters, you will enjoy her daughters book just as much. It is full of simple recipes, and written with a lot of charm. So many of the timeless recipes and techniques I use now I have learned from both of them.
We use the chicken, shredded, to make soups, enchiladas, quesadillas, salads, stir-fry’s, and of course just picking it straight off the bone. We then use the bones to make a homemade chicken broth which will definitely bring your cooking to a whole new level. It was something that we always looked past, but now do because it just adds so much flavor to whatever you are cooking!
I think as Ziba and I have continued on in our culinary journey and our exploration of hospitality, this seems to be the go-to meal for hosting. Everyone, and I mean everyone, absolutely loves this chicken. It is perfectly salted, juicy and tender, yet has a wonderful crisp and tear to it. The bold flavors of thyme, garlic, and lemon just make this chicken absolutely wonderful.
Do not be afraid of the salt. It is going to help remove water that is in the meat, and will diffuse all throughout the day while it rests for a perfectly seasoned chicken.
When I pull this chicken apart, or as our close friend, Miss Sydney, would say, “pick my chicken”, I seriously have to taste test it at least 14 or 15 times. I think I could just eat the whole chicken in one sitting and ruin whatever meal planning I was working on because it is that good! This recipe is the perfect hosting meal and I would recommend that you serve it with our Vibrant Oven Roasted Beets and Carrots with Feta and Thyme, and a big salad using our Rich and Creamy Caesar Dressing with Apple Cider Vinegar.
Here is a small teaching moment; Salt the chicken to where it feels ‘sandy or gritty’ all over. Then you can wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. Then, osmosis and diffusion will take place and create a perfectly seasoned chicken. However, you can also leave it uncovered in the fridge, the same seasoning process will take place, but it will dry out a bit more from the cold air and will lead to an even crispier skin for those that cannot resist!
Lastly, this chicken is just plain awesome, but to add to its supreme deliciousness, it cooks on a bed of leeks, which are like an onion as they come from the same family. The chicken does not burn or rip apart because the leeks confit underneath during the oven roasting process creating something that is absolutely fabulous! We encourage you to do what we do, once a week, cook a whole chicken, make some broth, and make a delicious meal to enjoy with your friends and family back around your table!
Family Table Talk
Here is some fun information about this recipe that can be used to spur on loving and open conversations between family and friends!
What Is Happening?
Osmosis – Salt will draw water out of the chicken to create an even amount on either side of the membrane.
Diffusion – Salt causes osmosis which in turns makes the salt diffuse (evenly transfer or spread out), allowing it to season the meat of the chicken perfectly!
1. What is your favorite part of the chicken to eat?
2. If you were salt, what would you help to draw out and diffuse in this life?
3. If you were a chicken, what would be the best part of your day?
4. When carving a chicken, how many pieces should you get? And what are the chicken oysters?
Oven Roasted Whole Chicken on a Bed of Leeks
To better understand how this chicken always turns out perfectly, try ordering Salt, Fat, Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. It is an amazing resource to have in your kitchen when it comes to next level cooking and flavors!
4 to 5 lb whole chicken, (choose organic when you can)
2 leeks, tops removed, cut into 4 inch pieces*
3 garlic cloves
- 24-48 Prep: Clean your chicken and place it on a plate. Cover the exterior and cavity with salt. This is not the time to be reserved about your salt, You want to make sure there is a good amount of salt on your bird. Wrap with clear wrap and place in the fridge for 24-48 hrs (for a juicer bird you want it to sit for the allotted time but if you only have a few hours to spare that is okay, too).
- Bring your chicken to room temperature before preparing to cook. Preheat your oven to 500F. Cut the green tops off leeks (freeze for use in broth another time), then cut length wise, and into 2-4in pieces. Rinse to remove dirt.
- Place leeks on your oven proof pan with thyme, toss in a bit of grapeseed oil and create a pile in the center. Place your lemon, some fresh thyme and garlic cloves in the cavity of your chicken. Crack black pepper all over the exterior and place it on your pan.
- Roasting: 500F for 30 minutes, then drop to 450F for 20 minutes. Flip your bird onto its breasts and roast for another 20 minutes, flip it back on its back and roast for another 30 minutes. Your chicken should have an internal temp, at its thickest part, of 165F.
- Let your chicken rest for up to an hour. The longer I let it rest, the better tasting it becomes!
*Freeze your green leek tops for use in your broth.
*I love to eat the roasted leeks just like that or spread it like butter on a piece of garlic toast.