Food | French Roast Chicken

| December 9, 2014


Lisa Harp, Valdosta Today Food Contributor:

Our cooking club, Girls on the Grill, is having our annual Christmas party and the theme involves rustic French cooking.

I don’t know about rustic, but roast chicken is very French. In fact, in the homework I did to find this recipe, the French go as far as saying “only the French can roast chicken”. Wow, that’s quite a statement.

The French are fond of rotisseries to cook their chickens, letting the cooking juices of the bird drip down on roasting vegetables.

I don’t have a rotisserie, but I do have an oven. I wanted to see if it would be possible to re-create the magical poulet rôti from France. One of my heros, Julia Child, recommends an acrobatic workout with your chicken, flipping it every few minutes, basting it constantly and smothering it with butter throughout.

The famed French chef Joël Robuchon has a similar flipping technique but with fewer steps and just two ingredients—chicken and butter. He also recommends finishing the bird by putting it into handstand position to allow all the juices to flow to the breast, an area that often dries out during cooking.

Here, we’re going to try part of Robuchon’s rotating method, but we’ll add some herbs and spices. I also like the ease of one-pot meals, so I threw a bunch of vegetables underneath the chicken using a rack to catch its juices as well as to provide a nice side.

I believe you’ll agree, there is always room for a delicious roast chicken on everyone’s menu.


Roast Chicken

Serves 4.

  • 4-pound roasting chicken
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 4 rosemary sprigs
  • tarragon, salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place room-temperature bird on a work surface and rub butter under skin, on top of skin and inside cleaned-out cavity. Sprinkle the same areas with tarragon, salt and pepper.

3. Place rosemary and both lemon halves inside the chicken, then tie its legs together with kitchen twine.

4. If roasting vegetables underneath the chicken, place uniform cuts in a lipped roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

5. Put a rack in the pan, and start the chicken on its side with wing tucked underneath. Roast undisturbed for 25 minutes, then flip to its other side, pouring 3 tablespoons of water over the bird and giving the vegetables a stir. Roast another 25 minutes.

6. After the 50 minutes with the two turns, place the chicken on its back and baste with the liquid forming in the pan. Cook for 10 minutes.

7. Place the chicken breast down and cook for 5 more minutes. The chicken is done when the juices run clear from the thickest part of the thigh and it’s nicely browned.

8. Remove the chicken from oven and elevate the tail end so it’s nearly vertical. You may need to use stacked bowls on which to rest the chicken and keep it upright. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Recipe and Photos From the blog Girl’s Guide to Paris

1497774_10200335595231062_205163012_n (2)Lisa Harp owns Plat du Jour Gourmet Delivery, delivering delicious meals to businesses and individuals all over South Georgia and North Florida since 2003. She has been featured in Southern Living magazine, including the Best of the Year recipes and cookbook, as well as online and newspapers. You can learn more about her business by visiting her website at

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