Roasted chicken is one of my favorite foods. I don’t have a top ten list, but if I did, roasted chicken would without a doubt be on there. Juicy chicken, crispy skin, and the drippings that fall into the pan create a mélange of textures. We tend to roast 2-3 chickens per month, and I appreciate that we generally get at least a couple meals out of each one. Plus we always make stock with the bones afterwards, which helps other meals.
There are many ways to roast a chicken. I vary my methods at home, but this is one way I always come back to. I love the simplicity of it. Don’t get me wrong, compound butter and loads of fresh herbs are delicious, and occasionally I’ll go that route, but sometimes (usually) I just want to spend a handful of minutes seasoning a chicken and know I’ll have good results.
I season my chicken the night before, which is a practice made popular by The Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers. (If you ever have an opportunity to try the Zuni chicken, do it!) It not only helps the meat be super flavorful, but also creates beautifully crispy skin. Sometimes it’s hard to feel motivated to start tomorrow’s dinner the night before, but this simple seasoning makes it a lot easier to face. It’s also encouraging to know the chicken, potatoes, and kale are all cooked in the same skillet so the cleanup will be a breeze.
For me chicken drippings are one of the highlights of roasted chicken, whether I’m drizzling it over my meat or swiping it up with a piece of bread. Here potatoes are roasted under the chicken, so they soak up a lot of the juices. That part of this recipe was inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s method of roasting a chicken over bread. Roasting the chicken over the potatoes makes them even more juicy, and you get to use a smaller pan. Kale is added near the end to get slightly crispy, but it will also be extra-flavorful from the chicken. If you don’t have kale, wilt some spinach in the juices at the end instead. It’s fantastic.
Skillet Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Kale (Serves 4)
- 1 whole chicken
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- 6-8 cloves of garlic, finely grated or minced, divided
- 1 T dried thyme
- 2 tsp paprika (I normally use sweet here, which isn’t spicy, but you can use spicy or smoked if you prefer.)
- 4 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 oz olive oil, divided
- 1 bunch of kale
- lemon for drizzling
- The night before you want to cook the chicken, season it. Pat it dry with a paper towel. Carefully lift the skin of the breast away from the meat and push the 4-6 cloves of grated garlic between the breast and skin, and some between the skin and meat of the thighs. Season liberally with salt and pepper, on the outside and inside of the cavity. It should look like a lot of salt, but keep in mind it will be absorbed by the chicken overnight. Do the same with the dried thyme and paprika. You can also rub a little of it in between the skin and meat like you did with the garlic. Place the chicken on a small, rimmed sheet pan or plate and put in the fridge uncovered overnight. Leaving it uncovered helps the skin to be crispier.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge 30-60 minutes before you are ready to cook it. Throw a large, 12 inch skillet in the oven and preheat the oven to 350.
- Half the potatoes lengthwise. Toss them with 1 oz of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. When the oven is preheated, carefully remove the skillet from the oven. Place the potatoes cut side down in the skillet, slightly spaced apart. Place the chicken on top of them. Put the skillet in the oven and roast for 45 minutes.
- Shortly before the 45 minutes are up, thinly slice the kale. I usually include the stems too. Toss with 1 oz of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, and salt and pepper.
- Bump up the heat of the oven to 450F. Remove the skillet from the oven. Carefully lift the chicken and put it aside. Add the kale to the pan, scattering it around the whole pan, and pushing some down in between the potatoes. Return the chicken to the skillet.
- Roast for 20-30 minutes more or until the chicken reaches 165F and the juices run clear. Let rest for 10-15 minutes until serving.
- Serve with drizzles of fresh lemon. I also like mine with crispy garlic chili oil (see note for my recipe) or hot sauce.
- This chicken can also be made in a Dutch oven. I just find the skin gets crispier in a skillet.
- To make crispy garlic chili oil: combine one head of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced, 1/2 cup of crushed red pepper, and 1/2 cup of Aleppo pepper flakes with 12oz neutral oil such as avocado, vegetable or canola in a small sauce pan.(You can use any combination of pepper flakes, but I like this ratio because the crushed red pepper flakes are usually spicier than the Aleppo pepper, but the Aleppo pepper has a nice fruity flavor.) Heat over medium-high heat until it starts to simmer, and then turn down to medium-low. Simmer until the garlic is golden brown. The garlic will feel crispier when it cools. This must be stored in the fridge because of the garlic, but it will keep for about a month. It makes a thick chili oil, so you can cut some of the chili flakes if you want it a little thinner or less spicy. It thickens in the fridge with cooling. Pull out what you want to serve ahead of time if that bothers you.