3 or 4
Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into ⅛-rounds
large sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 to 3 pound farm-raised chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
teaspoons minced thyme (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. 2. Melt the butter in a large oven-proof frying pan or small roasting pan. Layer the potatoes all around the bottom of the pan, completely covering it. Scatter the onions over the potatoes. Set aside and prepare the chicken. 3. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better. Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it’s a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird. 4. Now, salt the chicken. Rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper. 5. Place the chicken on top of the potatoes and onions in the pan and put it in the oven. Leave it alone. Don’t baste it or add butter. This creates extra steam, which you don’t want. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are golden and a little crispy, about 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with any juices from the pan and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board. 6. Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be super-elegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with the potatoes, onions and mustard on the side. You’ll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it’s so good.