I have tried many techniques for roasting a chicken over the years, most of which have been pretty good, but not really anything special. But then a couple weeks ago, very much by accident, I discovered this Thomas Keller recipe. I had been doing it all wrong. You can dispense with the butter and the basting and all the other things you think you need to do to make a delicious roast chicken. All you really need is some salt and a very hot oven.
At least a couple hours before you plan to cook the chicken, unwrap it and pat it dry really well. You don’t need to rinse it. Sprinkle it all over with a lot of salt. Way more salt than you think you should use. Then put it back in the fridge on a plate or a pan uncovered. This will help dry out the skin so that comes out nice and crispy.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When the oven is nice and hot, take the chicken out of the fridge and pat it dry again. Set it on a rack in a roasting pan and sprinkle it with a little more salt and some pepper. If you happen to have any preserved lemons, you can put a wedge inside the cavity if you want. A wedge of fresh lemon might be good too. Or you can put nothing at all inside. It will still be delicious.
Put it in the oven and leave it alone. Don’t baste it. Don’t peek. You’ll let all the hot air out of the oven. A three to four pound chicken will be perfectly cooked in about 50 to 60 minutes. You want an internal temperature of 165 degrees. When the chicken is done you can sprinkle it with some chopped herbs if you like. Then cover it with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes or so before carving.