This recipe is adapted slightly from Michael Ruhlman's From Scratch, the cookbook that taught me how to cook meat. I'd suggest adapting it to your skill level. If you're a beginner cook - or if you've never made a whole roast chicken - I'd suggest skipping the au jus at first. If you're comfortable with your roasting skills, try your hand at this basic sauce.
Make sure that you take advantage of what Ruhlman calls the "generosity" of whole chicken - the leftovers and the bones. Save the bones and make a hearty stock (or freeze them and add more bones later to make bone broth); shred or dice the leftover chicken to make pot pie, chicken salad, or add to stir fry or tacos.
- 1 3-4 lb. chicken, thawed and at room temperature
- 1 lemon (or onion or head of garlic)
- 1 tablespoon salt (more if needed)
- 1 carrot, sliced thinly or peeled into ribbons
- 1 small onion or 1/2 large onion, sliced thinly
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups hot water
- Preheat the oven to 425° F.
- Pat chicken dry.
- If using the lemon, place the whole lemon inside the chicken cavity. Otherwise, place a whole onion or head of garlic inside the cavity.
- Sprinkle or rub salt generously across the kitchen. You're aiming for a thick, "crusty" layer across the whole bird.
- Place the bird, breast-side up, in an oven-safe cast iron skillet, dutch oven, or glass roasting plan and insert into the hot oven for 1 hour.
- After the hour has passed, pull the chicken from the oven. Insert a meat thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh to ensure that the internal temperature has reached 165°F.
- Pull the chicken from the pan (leave any skin stuck in the pan in there), and place it on top of a cutting board or plate to rest.
- Put the pan, with the leftover chicken juice, over high heat on the stove, and allow the juice to reduce in the fat for a minute or so.
- Add the carrot and onion to the pan. Stir them to coat with the chicken fat and cook until tender, another minute or two.
- Add the to the pan and bring it to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged spoon. Stir until all the wine has cooked off and the fat has begun to crackle again.
- Add the cup of hot water. Cook this off just like the wine, until virtually all the liquid is gone, then add the remaining cup of hot water, bring it to a boil, and then turn off the heat.
- Cut the chicken into pieces. Start by cutting off the wings, and then cut the thighs and legs at the place where the thighs connect to the back. Then, slice the breasts off along the breastbone.
- Strain the sauce into a bowl and spoon over the chicken.