Herbed Roast Chicken

For a roast chicken recipe that gets the entire bird—not just the breast—seasoned throughout, we butterflied the chicken and made shallow cuts in the dark meat. A thick herb paste not only adhered to the now flat chicken but also penetrated the pockets created by the cuts, giving us the flavorful and aromatic chicken recipe we were looking for

Herbed Roast Chicken
Herbed Roast Chicken

PREP TIME

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minutes

TOTAL TIME

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minutes

SERVINGS

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servings

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

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servings

Ingredients

  • Chicken

  • 1

    whole chicken (about 5 pounds), trimmed of excess fat, giblets discarded (see note)

  • 1/2

    cup table salt plus 1/4 teaspoon

  • 1/4

    cup fresh tarragon leaves, lightly packed

  • 1

    tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (see note)

  • 6

    medium scallions, green parts sliced thin (about 2/3 cup), whites reserved for another use

  • 1

    medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)

  • Ground black pepper

  • 6

    tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 1

    tablespoon vegetable oil

  • Sauce

  • 1 - 1 1/2

    cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • 2

    teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1

    teaspoon fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon

Directions

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Following illustrations below, butterfly chicken and flatten breastbone. Tuck wings behind back. Using sharp knife, lightly score skin of thighs and legs, making 2 shallow cuts on each part about 1/8 inch into meat and about 3/4 inch apart. Dissolve 1/2 cup salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge chicken in brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour. 2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Place tarragon, thyme, scallions, garlic, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on cutting board; mince to fine paste. Transfer herb paste to medium bowl and add butter. Using fork or stiff rubber spatula, mix until combined. Transfer 2 tablespoons herb butter to small bowl and refrigerate; set aside remainder at room temperature. 3. Remove chicken from brine and rinse under cold running water; pat dry with paper towels. Following illustrations below and using fingers, carefully separate skin from each side of breast to form pocket. Place 1 tablespoon softened herb butterin each pocket. Using spoon or fingers, spread butter over breast meat. Season skin with pepper. 4. Heat oil in ovensafe 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place chicken skin-side down in skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and roast chicken 25 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken so skin-side is facing up. Using spoon or spatula, evenly coat chicken skin with remaining softened herb butter and return to oven. Roast chicken until skin is golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to carving board and let rest, uncovered, 20 minutes. 5. FOR THE SAUCE: While chicken rests, pour pan juices into fat separator; allow liquid to settle 5 minutes. Pour juices into 2-cup measuring cup and add enough chicken broth to measure 1 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons fat from fat separator to skillet and place over medium heat. When fat is shimmering, add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 60 seconds. Add broth and bring to simmer, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Simmer rapidly until reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in any accumulated chicken juices from carving board; return to simmer and cook 30 seconds. Remove panfrom heat, whisk in cold herb butter and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Carve chicken and serve, passing sauce separately. Recipe Testing Secret Ingredient: Scallions Though unusual for an herb paste, we liked the robust, grassy flavor that scallion tops brought to our herb butter, preferring them to more delicate chives. Technique Butter Up Your Bird Many chicken and turkey recipes, including our Herbed Roast Chicken, call for loosening the skin and applying butter directly on the meat before roasting. We find that the easiest way to do this is with your fingers and a spoon. 1. Slip fingers between the skin and the breast, loosening the membrane. 2. Scoop some butter onto the spoon, slide it under the breast skin, and push it off with your fingers as you pull the spoon out. 3. Use the back of the spoon to spread the butter evenly over the meat of each breast. Step-by-Step Prepping Chicken for an Herbal Infusion 1. Butterfly: Herbs rolled right off whole chicken. To help herbs stay put, flatten bird, first removing backbone. 2. Press: Use heel of your hand to press firmly on breastbone so chicken will lie flat, helping herbs stay on top. 3. Score: Make shallow cuts on legs and thighs to create pockets that can trap herbs. Recipe Testing Herbs Three Ways To ensure herbs in every bite, we made a paste of tarragon, thyme, scallions, and butter and deployed it three ways. 1. Under Skin: Before roasting, spread herb butter evenly under loosened skin of breast meat. 2. Over Skin: Midway through cooking, coat skin of entire bird with herb butter. 3. On the Side: Serve chicken with pan sauce enriched with herb butter. Herbed Roast Chicken Brining Chicken Carving a Butterflied Chicken Butterflying a Chicken Herbed Roast Chicken Most herbed roast chicken has so little herb flavor it's hardly worthy of the name. We set out to roast a chicken with herbs in every bite. Add to My Favorites Shopping List Print Email Start a FREE TRIAL online membership Videos Brining Chicken Carving a Butterflied Chicken Butterflying a Chicken Herbed Roast Chicken Serve With Roasted Root Vegetables Roasted Broccoli with Olives, Garlic, Oregano, and Lemon Taste Tests Chicken Broth Whole Chickens How to Cook Cutting Scallions Browse All Issues Digital Edition Free Newsletter Connect with Cook's Illustrated on Facebook Connect with Cook's Illustrated on Twitter Connect with Cook's Illustrated on Youtube Cooking School Give the Gift of Cook's Illustrated

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