I never thought of roast chicken as anything particularly special. It's...roast chicken. Standard fare for Sunday suppers and eventual provider of chicken stock. But this has become my favorite dish for small gatherings of friends, and the "oohs" and "aahs" that greet its arrival at the table make me think that there's more to roast chicken than meets the eye.
There's a reason why roast chicken has been and still is the classic Sunday supper. For one thing it's incredibly easy to make (just rub with olive oil and stick it in the oven), and it's ready in about an hour with very little attention needed. Roast chicken is also just as delicious with basic salt and pepper as it is rubbed with more exotic herbs or stuffed with citrus.
But I think it's the act of sharing it that really makes roast chicken feel special and intimate. You bring the whole bird to the table and carve off favorite pieces for each person. Side dishes are passed around and plates are gradually filled. We might squabble over the two lone drumsticks, but in the end, everyone is happy.
And I love that one little bird is exactly enough to feed a small table of people. There's a satisfying symmetry in that, I think!
Do you ever serve roast chicken at dinner parties?
(Images: Faith Durand)