Unless we're having guests over, roasting a whole chicken isn't honestly something that we would normally think of doing. But reading Melissa Clark's description in the New York Times a few weeks ago of croutons made golden and crunchy in the pan drippings from a roasted chicken won us over. (We really are suckers for toasted bread in any form!)
Here's a link to Melissa Clark's article and recipe from the New York Times:
The chicken was as easy to make as Clark promises. By the time the oven finished pre-heating, we'd prepared the chicken and had it nestled in its bed of day-old bread in a roasting pan. There's no basting or other fussiness in this recipe, so we were able to simply put it in the oven and set the timer.
The trouble started when we checked the chicken after a half an hour. The bird was coloring beautifully, but the bread surrounding it was well on its way to burning. To be fair, we were using a dark-colored pan, but we'd already set the oven temperature a bit lower (as Clark suggests for dark-colored pans) and didn't want to turn it down any lower.
We removed the pieces that were in danger of burning completely and tried to rotate the remaining pieces so that previously exposed parts were now under the chicken and it's drippings. We crossed our fingers and set the timer again.
Forty-five minutes later, the chicken was done. The skin was taut and golden. It wasn't crackling-crispy, but it was definitely crunchy enough to satisfy. The meat was perfectly cooked, incredibly moist, and gently flavored with garlic and thyme. In fact, this was some of the juiciest and most satisfying chicken anyone in our house could remember eating!
The bread, on the other hand, was another story. It wasn't salvageable, frankly. The bread that had been directly under the chicken was completely soggy and pretty unappetizing. The remaining pieces were toasted far beyond being edible. Some of them might have been ok broken up into croutons for a salad, but it definitely wasn't what we'd been expecting.
The toasted bread was disappointing, but the oohs and ahhs over the chicken itself make this a recipe worth keeping. Next time, we're going to try baking it in a light colored roasting dish instead of a casserole pan, which might delay the toasting and do a better job of distributing the drippings from the chicken. We'll also try cutting the bread into thicker pieces or cutting them into large croutons to begin with.
Has anyone else tried this recipe yet?
(Images: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)