When my wife Pam and I were in Paris, we met up with her parents. We had been traveling through Europe and rented an apartment during our stay in Paris. Eager to make a great first impression, I decided to make everyone dinner. No other dish can win over people's hearts and minds as well as a good roasted chicken — and I wanted, very badly, to win them over. By the end of the night, plates, as well as wine bottles, were empty, and Pam's mother was pronouncing the roasted chicken to be the best she'd ever had. I wasn't going to argue with her — I was in love with her daughter, and I desperately wanted her to like me. The chicken, clearly, sealed the deal. So next time, when you're trying to win someone over, make them this chicken-and watch the magic happen.
One of the best things about this chicken (besides its amazing taste), is how hands-off the process is. The thing that will make the most difference in the outcome of your dish is the chicken itself, so seek out the highest quality you can find. Once the chicken is in the oven, you can relax, have a glass of wine, and catch up with your family and friends. And while you relax, the vegetables and potatoes bathe in rendered chicken fat — it doesn't get much better than that.
- 1 (3- to 3½-pound) chicken
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small onion
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 head garlic
- 1/2 lemon, halved
- Olive oil
- 6 small Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and halved
- 2 carrots, cut on an angle into 2-inch pieces
- 6 shallots
- 1 head escarole, cut into 1½-inch pieces (14 cups)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, plus more as needed
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Thoroughly pat dry the chicken. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavity and then place the onion, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and lemon inside. Truss the chicken with kitchen twine and set it in a 9-by-13-inch roasting pan. Rub some olive oil over the chicken skin and generously sprinkle the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until the skin begins to brown and crisp.
3. Place the potatoes, carrots, and shallots in the pan around the chicken and return to the oven. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes more, or until the skin is crisp and golden brown and the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the chicken to a carving board. Let rest for about 10 minutes before carving.
4. Meanwhile, using a slotted spoon and leaving as much of the cooking fat as possible in the pan, transfer the roasted vegetables to a large bowl. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat, add the escarole to the pan, and cook, stirring, until halfway wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the wilted escarole to the bowl with the roasted vegetables. Add the mustard and toss until the vegetables and escarole are evenly coated. Divide the vegetables between two plates. Carve the chicken and serve it with the vegetables while still hot.