No fuss, no muss—perfect dinner for us. Every now and again (or perhaps all of the time), you want a quick, simple, yet satisfying meal. If that meal is a golden-brown, juicy, and tender roast chicken, then this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (CI) is the ticket.
In a different twist, CI instructs to trim off excess skin and fat from the cavity and cut small slits in the skin above and below the thigh. Cutting these slits allows the juices to drain from the chicken into the skillet, where they brown, concentrate, and develop more flavor. Prior to roasting, the skin is brushed with melted butter instead of oil to facilitate browning.
Roasting the chicken breast side up in a preheated skillet set in a 400-degree oven helps the legs finish cooking at the same time as the breast. When the breast registers 150 to 155 degrees, remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest, tented with foil, for 15 minutes on a moated cutting board so that it can gently rise to the serving temperature of 160 degrees.
Even though our chicken weighed in at 5 pounds, it took only an additional 5 minutes to come to temp. While the bird rests, use the umami-rich jus as a base for cooking an ultra-flavorful side dish of couscous with roasted red peppers.
NOTE: This recipe was developed with Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt; if using Morton Kosher Salt, which is denser, decrease the amount for the chicken to 1¾ teaspoons and the amount for the couscous to ¼ teaspoon.
Roast Chicken with Couscous, Roasted Red Peppers and Basil
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt, divided
- ½ tsp. pepper1 (4-lb.) whole chicken, giblets discarded
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- ¾ cup couscous
- ½ cup water, more or less*
- 5 tsp. red wine vinegar
- ¾ cup jarred roasted red peppers, chopped fine
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Stir 2½ teaspoons salt and pepper together in small bowl. Place chicken breast side up on cutting board. Using kitchen shears, thoroughly trim excess fat and skin from cavity. Lift 1 drumstick and use paring knife to cut ½-inch slit in skin where drumstick and thigh meet. Turn chicken on side so breast faces edge of counter. Cut ½-inch slit in skin where top of thigh meets breast. Repeat both cuts on opposite side of chicken. Tuck wingtips behind back. Sprinkle about one-third of salt mixture into cavity.
- Brush top and sides of chicken with melted butter. Sprinkle remaining salt mixture evenly over all sides of chicken.
- Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place chicken breast side up in skillet; transfer to oven; and roast until thickest part of breast registers 150 to 155 degrees, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, rotating skillet halfway through roasting.
- Lift the chicken cavity side down to drain the juices from the bird into the skillet. Transfer chicken to a moated carving board and let rest, tented with foil, for 15 minutes (chicken temperature will continue to rise as it rests).
- Meanwhile, pour pan juices into fat separator. Add 1 tablespoon fat to now-empty skillet. Add garlic and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is pale golden brown, about 3 minutes.
- Add couscous and stir until well combined. Stir in all defatted pan juices with *enough water to equal one cup, vinegar, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and bring to simmer. Spread red peppers in even layer over couscous; turn off heat; cover; and let sit until couscous is just tender and all liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
- Carve chicken and transfer to platter. Pour any accumulated juices over the poultry pieces.
- Fluff couscous, stir in basil, season with salt to taste, and transfer to bowl. Serve chicken with couscous.
Adapted from a recipe by Cooks Illustrated