From Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home


I confess to a love-hate relationship with roasted chicken: Love to eat it, hate to make it, because some recipes that promised “the best roast chicken you’ll ever eat” gave me only grievance instead.   Here are two examples.  One famous recipe calls for blasting the bird in a 500F  oven, which made an unbelievable mess, set off every smoke alarm in the house, and left a lingering smell of roast chicken for days.   I also fell for a recipe that insisted the best way to roast a chicken is to first sear it in a frying pan, and then move  it into a hot oven.  That method resulted in both the stove AND the oven covered in oily splatter.  I dealt with it in the hope of  “… the best ever“, but… it wasn’t.

Every recipe in Keller’s book makes me want to jump to the kitchen to start working on it, so I couldn’t resist his take on roast chicken.   I’m glad that I didn’t, it was simple to prepare and finished with a happy ending.  This recipe is a full  meal in itself:  you’ll have a nice roast chicken, crispy and moist, with a bonus side dish accompanying it.  It was satisfying home-cooking at its best.

(para receita em portugues, clique aqui)

(adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc)

1 whole chicken, preferably organic (4 – 4.5 pounds)
2 cloves garlic, mashed
fresh thyme sprigs
salt and pepper
3 rutabagas
2 turnips
6 carrots
12 small yellow or red new potatoes
1/3  cup canola oil
4 T butter at room temperature or 2 T duck fat
1/2 lemon

If you are particularly fond of crispy skin, leave the bird uncovered  in the fridge for a couple of days.  Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 1.5 hours before roasting (important step, don’t skip it).

Heat the oven to 475F.

Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper, add the garlic, 4 thyme sprigs, and the lemon half in the cavity.  For a nicer presentation, truss the chicken (see how to do it here, but you may omit this step if you prefer – read my comments).

Cut the rutabagas and turnips in similar sized pieces, about 3/4 inch wedges. Cut the carrots in half crosswise and again lengthwise. Keep the young potatoes whole, or, if they are a bit too big cut them in half.  Place all veggies in a large bowl, add  1/4 cup of canola oil,  2-3 thyme sprigs, salt, pepper, and toss well.  Transfer them to a roasting pan, make a small space in the center to place the chicken.  Rub the remaining canola oil all over the skin of the chicken, seasoning it again with salt and pepper.

Just before roasting, add pats of butter over the breast, or brush with some duck fat (it gives a deeper flavor to the chicken,).

Roast at 475F for 25 minutes, lower the temperature to 400F and roast for 1 hour, but check the internal temperature after 45 minutes, if it reaches 160F remove the chicken from the oven.  Allow the chicken to rest under an aluminum foil tent for 20 minutes before carving.

A few minutes before serving, place the roasting dish on the stove and heat the vegetables, moving them around to coat with the juices accumulated during roasting.


to print the recipe, click here

Jump for final comments and additional photos

The veggies are cut…


Placed in the bowl with oil, salt, and pepper…


Everything ready for the oven….


To truss or not to truss?  Opinions are divided on this one.   Many chefs and cooks prefer to roast the bird un-trussed, claiming that you get a bigger amount of crispy skin that way.  When you truss the chicken, the skin between the thighs and the body doesn’t get a chance to crisp up.  Normally, I don’t truss, but this time I decided to follow Keller’s method.

My main modification was to include half a lemon in the cavity, and rubbing the skin with duck fat instead of butter, a trick I learned a long, long  time ago watching David Rosengarten on FoodTV’s  ‘Taste”. He actually used goose fat, but duck fat works equally well, in my humble opinion.

Voila’!  Time for dinner!


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  1. I love roast chicken! This sounds very similar to the way I roast except for the root veggies. I didn’t know about leaving it out for 1.5 hour. Have never done that, but will give it a try!

    Gorgeous photos, Sally.


  2. Hi, Carole… I had never left it out either, but Keller explains it makes a huge difference, the bird cooks more evenly. It does make sense…

    Next time I’ll try the 2-day in the fridge too – I had heard of this before, as a great way to get crisp skin – who doesn’t love crispy skin? 🙂


  3. I love crispy skin!!! I sneak it every time the chicken comes out of the oven. The same with the turkey.

    I looked at Ad Hoc at the store today. Beautiful book, but I can’t see spending $50 unless someone decides to get it for me. Hint, Hint, Jim!


  4. I don’t truss because I think that with the legs slightly splayed the thigh and the breast acheive their proper finished temp at about the same time.

    I also love crispy skin and will eat every bit available while I break down the carcass for stock.


  5. OK..I will try this. I have an extreemly picky family for dinner. We eat the same thing day after day. im tired of this. the one thing we can all agree on is chicken. this will be the first time i made a whole chicken though. also i have a very picky young eater. he will only eat burgers, eggs, potatoes, chicken legs or nuggets, cheese pizza, and rice. anyone have any ways for me to hide veggies in any of this. i tried in the burger and he found them, now he gets out the magnifying glass. help!!


  6. Oh, Joan… Picky eaters are tough to deal with..

    how about meatballs with tomato sauce? I once made meatballs with some leftover roasted eggplant which I more or less “pureed” before adding to the meat – no way anyone would “find” it there, and it tasted great. I bet you could do something similar with other veggies – the tomato sauce will take care of “covering” it up… 🙂

    I know that some purists will say one should not hide the veggies, but I imagine it is very frustrating for a parent when the kid refuses to eat. If it serves of any consolation, I was a very picky eater until age 20… now there is nothing I won’t try at least once!

    I hope this recipe will please your family!


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  8. Hi, you didn’t mention if there were still oil splatters and smoky oven when roasting using this method? I’m thinking the vegetables will absorb the oil thus reducing splatters but the butter on the skin will definitely cause splatters, right? Thanks.


    • Hi, Kay

      no splatters, at least nothing that would prevent me from using this recipe again and again. Maybe you are right, the veggies reduced eventual splatters, and since the temperature was not too high, the butter on the skin did not cause too much trouble….


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