This recipe is truly effortless and involves a secret trick for making the perfect roast chicken every.single.time. You simply heat a cast iron skillet in the oven at a very high temperature before adding the chicken to the pan. This process helps cook the dark meat quickly and keeps the chicken crispy and moist. It’s a Mark Bittman technique that I’ve tweaked, this time using bay leaves, garlic, lemon, shallot, and spices.
You can use any seasoning combination, but I love to use big bunches of tarragon, thyme, or rosemary if I have them on hand. The measurements for the spices are also approximate – I generally use a heavy hand and don’t measure them out. The Bittman recipe says that the chicken cooks for only 30 minutes, but I find that when I stuff it with the herbs and lemon, the chicken takes closer to 45. The best way to know if the chicken’s done is to use a thermometer (165 degrees F means that bird is cooked).
- One 3-4 lb whole chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 5-6 bay leaves
- 1 shallot, cut in half
- 5-6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- Kosher salt
- Fresh pepper
- Put the cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, thoroughly rinse and dry the chicken inside and out. Rub the chicken all over with olive oil, and then generously salt the cavity.
- Stuff the chicken with the lemon, shallot, garlic, and bay leaves.
- Coat the chicken generously with salt and pepper, and sprinkle all over with spices (use a generous hand here).
- Carefully take the hot skillet out of the oven, and place the chicken in it.
- Cook the chicken for approximately 40 - 45 minutes; check with a thermometer to be sure that the chicken has reached 165 degrees F.