“Things on toast,” reformatted. Heat oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the back from a chicken and cut down the keel bone to flatten the breast. Pile chunks of slightly stale artisanal bread (we used end bits of homemade Tartine Bread rye plus some other artisanal bits) in the middle of a large cast iron skillet. Pile sliced onion (one medium) on top of the bread. Place the chicken carefully over it, tucking in all the bread bits and onions, for now. Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle salt all over it. Roast for 30 minutes; meanwhile chop a big handful of fresh oregano and thyme leaves, and leaves and tender stems of 5 or 6 parsley stems. Crush 4 or 5 garlic cloves and mix them in, along with some black pepper. After 30 minutes, lift the chicken up, throw the herbs and garlic on, stir to distribute the herbs a bit and then pull everything out to the edges of the skillet. Put the chicken back down, cover the breast with foil, and roast for another 20 minutes. (See note below.) Pour a glass of white wine over everything and roast for another 20 - 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the thigh is 165 degrees. Remove bread and onion pieces. Use 1/2 cup white wine + 1/2 cup of water, or more, to deglaze the skillet for a noteworthy pan sauce. ;o)
After everyone has had all the chicken they want, deglaze the pan again with at least 1/2 cup of water, working to get every last bit of flavor off the sides of the skillet, and scrape all that you can out to save for use with the leftovers, or to drizzle over an omelet. I use these as the base of a vinaigrette for Merrill Stubb’s mother’s warm chicken salad, a recipe on Food52, which I highly recommend as a fine way to use leftover roast chicken in the warmer months. Garnish with any leftover chunks of chicken-roasted bread, lightly warmed just before serving.
NB: These cooking times are for a good-sized bird - 4 - 5 pounds. For a smaller chicken, reduce cooking times to 25 minutes (add herbs), and then 20 minutes (splash on wine) and 10 minutes, or less; check with your thermometer after 35 minutes all told.
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Cheat codes: Bread can be cubed up to a day in advance; herbs can be chopped anytime during the day you roast.