Anthony Bourdain’s perfect roast chicken

Everyone needs to know how to roast a chicken, with obligatory crispy skin and moist tender meat

Roast chicken. Photograph: iStock

Everyone should know how to roast a chicken. It’s a life skill that should be taught to small children at school. The ability to properly prepare a moist yet thoroughly cooked bird, with nicely crisp skin, should be a hallmark of good citizenry. An obligation to your fellow man.

Everyone walking down the street should be reasonably confident that the random person next to them is prepared, if called upon, to roast a chicken. It seems like a simple thing. Yet there’s a reason this task was a traditional test of a new cook’s basic skills when auditioning for the great kitchens of Europe. It’s as easy, if not easier, to fuck it up as to do it right.

Respect the chicken!




1 best-quality chicken (about 1 kg), preferably organic
Sea salt to taste
Crushed black peppercorns to taste
4 tbsp unsalted butter
10 sprigs fresh thyme
1 fresh bay leaf
Half a lemon, cut into 4 wedges
1 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tbsp)
1½ cups chicken stock
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat an oven to 230 degrees Celsius.

Rub the bird inside and out with salt and crushed peppercorns. Stuff a half tablespoon knob of butter under the skin of each side of the breast skin, and under the skin of each thigh. Stuff the thyme, bay leaf, and lemon wedges into the chicken’s cavity.

Use the tip of a paring knife to poke a small hole in the skin just below each of the chicken’s legs, and tuck each leg carefully into that hole. (You may also truss the chicken with butcher’s twine if you know how, but this is much simpler.)

Place the chicken in a flame-proof roasting pan and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan, moving it to different parts of the oven to account for hot spots, and basting the bird two or three times with a bulb-top baster or long-handled metal spoon.

Reduce the oven’s heat to 150 degrees Celsius and continue to roast, basting frequently, for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the bird is done: When you poke the fat part of the thigh with the paring knife, the juices should run clear.

Remove the bird from the oven, let it rest 15 minutes, then remove the breasts and legs from the carcass, reserving everything. Use a ladle to skim off and discard as much surface fat from the pan juices as possible. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over high heat and stir in the wine and lemon juice, scraping the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon to dislodge and dissolve the browned bits. Bring this mixture to a boil and cook until it is reduced by half.

Stir in the stock with a wooden spoon, bring to a boil, and reduce again by half. Remove from the heat and strain this sauce through a sieve into a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, a tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is thick and glossy. Fold in the parsley and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary.
Serve the chicken, half of the breast plus a drum stick or a thigh per person, with
the sauce ladled over.

Taken from Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain, published by Bloomsbury (£26), with photographs by Bobby Fisher