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roast chicken, Jacques Pepin style…

October 29, 2011


Would we expect anything less from Chef Pepin? I am the proud owner of Pepin’s new book, “Essential Pepin,” which I highly highly highly recommend. It’s great to read before bed, since each recipe comes with a little paragraph explanation or hint or memory associated with it. It’s great for technique, since it really describes the basics and comes with a DVD. And it’s great for eating good food because he actually wrote and edited each recipe (over 700 of them), and he’s a master. Check a cool article at by the NYTs.

Where better to start, then, but with the classic roast chicken? I’ll admit, I had never roasted a chicken before. I’ve made beer-can chicken in the oven, which ensures really juicy tender meat, but never the classic roast chicken. And I’ve definitely never seen anyone do it quite like this.

Pepin’s recipe tells you to brown the bird (after seasoning it with salt and pepper) for a little over 2 minutes on each side in a skillet with olive oil on the stove. After two minutes on the second side the bird goes in the oven cooking for 20 minutes on that side, 20 minutes back on the other, and 20 minutes on its back, basting only before this last turn. And that’s it.  G and I were pretty skeptical or at least didn’t quite know what to expect but we shouldn’t have thought twice about it. The chicken really was perfect. Moist, melt in your mouth chicken with great crispy skin. It was heaven. We served it with some rainbow kale and fingerling potatoes roasted with olive oil and rosemary. Pepin suggests watercress on top as garnish, so of course we did that too.

roast chicken

adapted from Jacques Pepin’s “Essential Pepin”


1 chicken (I prefer organic. They just look better. Pepin recommends 3.5lbs but ours was almost 4lbs)



olive oil

watercress or other green garnish you might like


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse the chicken, undoing any ties it might have. Dry it and then season inside and out with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet that can go in the oven heat the olive oil (about 1 tablespoon — we might have used a little more) until it’s hot. You don’t want it to smoke, though. When hot, set the chicken in the pan on one side (see photo above of what that looks like…it’s kind of awkward). After 2.5 minutes flip to other side (should have some browning on the first side). Let it sit on the second side for 2.5 minutes and the put it in the oven still on that second side for 20 minutes. Don’t cover it or anything. Once 20 minutes are up flip back to the first side for another 20 minutes. Then turn it onto its back and baste it with the fat it has released (we just use a spoon when we baste instead of one of those squeezey things). Cook a final 20 minutes on its back.

Now it should be done but you can test with a thermometer in the thick part of the joint between the thigh and drumstick and it should be between 150-160 degrees and the juices should run clear (this is Pepin’s tip).

Take out of the pan and put it breast side down on a cutting board or plate to keep it moist and pour the drippings in a bowl. Add a little bit of water to the pan and stir to deglaze it and add to the bowl with drippings.

Serve the carved chicken with some of the drippings on top.







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