I love this recipe not just because it’s wickedly garlicky but because it breaks all the rules — it works best with pressed garlic, has you almost burn the garlic and herbs, and requires pressing the chicken down. These are all cooking no-nos that actually work here, once again proving that you can totally break the rules so long as you understand why.
This chicken is the ultimate in garlicky herby savory goodness, and using the best quality chicken you can get is important because it’s such a straightforward dish. Look for a smaller bird that’s free-range, hormone- and antibiotic-free, and vegetarian fed. As great as the garlic-crusted chicken is, the herb sauce is just as good. All of the herbs listed can be substituted for absolutely anything else, but the chives are a must. Yields 4 servings.
Garlic Roast Chicken Ingredients:
- 3 to 5 pound chicken
- 6 large cloves garlic
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- Two big, heavy, oven-safe skillets, one preferably cast iron
- A sheet of aluminum foil big enough to cover the bottom of the smaller skillet
Herb Sauce Ingredients:
- 10 to 12 stalks tarragon
- 8 to 10 stalks thyme
- 2 to 3 stalks rosemary
- Big bunch of chives
- Handful of parsley
- ½ lemon, plus more for garnish
- Preheat an oven to 350°F and place the smaller of the two skillets (or whichever is not cast iron) in to heat.
- Using a sharp pair of kitchen shears, cut the backbone from the chicken; keep in the freezer for stock. Cut off any fat deposits or large bits of skin and discard. Press or very finely mince the garlic.
- Sprinkle the chicken very liberally with a couple big pinches of salt all over both sides, making sure to get into the creases and crevices. Sprinkling from a height will help the salt spread more evenly. Then rub the garlic all over the chicken, three quarters of it on the skin side and one quarter on the cut side.
- Heat the larger skillet, preferably the cast iron one, over medium heat. Add the oil and butter and once the butter is mostly melted, add the chicken cut side down. Cook about 8 minutes, until deeply browned but not burnt. Flip and cook another 5 minutes on the skin side. It should be a bit darker than golden brown and very fragrant.
- Slide a middle oven rack out and place the skillet on it. Cover with the foil sheet, and carefully place the (very hot!) smaller skillet on top. Carefully press down to ensure it’s making full contact. Slide the rack back in and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until the thickest part of the thigh registers 160°F.
- While the chicken is roasting, prepare the herb sauce. Strip the leaves from the woody herbs and mince all the herbs finely. Combine and set aside. Squeeze the lemon into a strainer to catch the seeds and set the juice aside.
- Once the chicken is done, carefully remove to a plate. I find it easiest to grip the exposed drumstick bones and transfer it very quickly with a spatula underneath for support. Tent with the foil and let rest at least 10 minutes. Once rested, carve chicken as desired. I like to cut it into six pieces: breasts with wing, thighs, and drumsticks. Arrange neatly skin side up on a serving dish.
- Place the skillet with the chicken fat and juices back onto medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. Shut off the heat then stir in the herbs and lemon juice to make a sauce. Immediately pour all over the chicken and serve with extra lemon quarters. You will want crusty bread to sop up the sauce, trust me.