Chef/author Melissa Clark tell us “The sophisticated, French flavors of brandy, butter and tarragon season this golden-skinned roast chicken, adding panache to what is otherwise an easy and straightforward recipe.”
Nothing like a fabulous meal using a limited number of ingredients. We decided to include about a dozen shallots to surround the poultry and add the beloved allium flavor. As they roast with the chicken, the shallots become all soft and jammy.
Serving the chicken with mashed potatoes or polenta, provide a soft bed to absorb all the heady, buttery juices. But we were jonesing to try the “Gunpowder Potatoes” in this case. If you choose the mashed potatoes idea, go ahead and make a flavorful pan sauce, especially if you add those shallots.
Oh, and if you’re not a tarragon fan, fresh thyme makes an excellent, milder substitute.
Roast Tarragon-Cognac Chicken
- 1 4-lb. whole chicken
- 10-12 shallots, trimmed and peeled
- 2 tsp. coarse gray sea salt or 2½ teaspoons kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 1 bunch fresh tarragon, leaves and tender stems coarsely chopped (about ¾ cup)
- 2 Tbsp.s Cognac
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Pat the chicken dry and salt the bird inside and out. Transfer to a plate or baking dish, preferably on a rack, and refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 hour or overnight. (Ours was in the fridge for 4 hours.)
- When ready to cook the chicken, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a small bowl, combine butter, tarragon, 1 tablespoon Cognac and the pepper. Rub mixture inside the chicken cavity and over and under the chicken skin.
- Place chicken on a rimmed sheet pan or in a large, ovenproof skillet. Roast, breast side up, until the skin is golden and crisp, and the juices run clear when you insert a fork in the thickest part of the thigh (165 degrees), about 1 hour.
- Turn off the oven — don’t skip this step, or the Cognac may overheat and catch fire — and transfer the pan with the chicken to the stovetop. Pour the remaining 1 tablespoon Cognac over the bird and baste with some of the buttery pan juices. Immediately return the chicken to the turned-off oven and let rest there for 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark for NYTimes Cooking