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Perfect Roast Chicken
Perfect Roast Chicken Photo courtesy of Parker Fitzgerald and Leo Patrone

Anyone can make roast chicken. It’s one of those stunners that are secretly simple. But we recently noticed that we were cooking up some fairly dry birds. That was, until we stumbled upon this little recipe from the new cookbook The Kinfolk Table. And good God, we just made our best-ever roast chicken. Here’s what we did differently: We cooked it in a cast-iron skillet. It was juicy. The skin cracked and gleamed. Sure, Kinfolk’s paprika-spiced rub made a difference, but we firmly believe that the end result is only as good as the tool that makes it.

Makes 4 servings

One 3½- to 4-pound chicken

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ lemon

½ pear

3 garlic cloves

1 small bunch fresh mixed herbs, such as sage, rosemary and tarragon

1½ teaspoons sweet paprika

3 medium russet potatoes (about 2 pounds), scrubbed and cut into 1½-inch pieces

2 large yellow onions, quartered

1 pound seasonal vegetables, such as parsnips and carrots, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400° and position a rack in the center of the oven.

2. Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water, then thoroughly pat it dry with paper towels. Rub the cavity with 1 tablespoon of the butter, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper, then insert the lemon, pear, garlic and herbs.

3. In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt with ½ teaspoon black pepper and the paprika. Rub the mixture all over the chicken. Tuck the wings behind the chicken. Tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine. In a cast-iron skillet, arrange the chicken, breast side up. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons butter into small pieces and scatter them over the chicken.

4. Arrange the potatoes, onions and vegetables in the skillet around the chicken. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables and season them with salt and pepper.

5. Roast the chicken for 1½ hours, or until a thermometer inserted in the breast registers 150°.

6. Transfer the chicken to a carving board to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, skim off any excess fat from the juices in the skillet. Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables and pan juices.


Excerpted from The Kinfolk Table by Nathan Williams (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Parker Fitzgerald and Leo Patrone.

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