This a my super special for company chicken roasting method. Oftentimes I will just season a chicken, shove a lemon and some aromatics up its bum, smear it with butter toss it in a hot oven and hope for the best. But when I have time to plan ahead, this is the recipe I choose. The recipe is a conglomeration of 40 cloves of garlic chicken and a recipe that ran in the Times last year for chicken roasted on a bed of day old bread. You can add a few extras if you like; I made this last night and tossed in a few quartered artichokes, and other times I've included halved shallots. Olives, sundried tomatoes, leeks, paper-thin slices of lemon, and even bacon would work too. It will take to almost anything -- you could even use a whole grain bread and toss in dried fruit, onions, and chunks of apple, but I generally use sturdy Italian bread or sourdough. —Aliwaks
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Aliwaks is a longtime Food52er and an adventurous cook from Philly.
WHAT: The closest thing you can get to Thanksgiving outside of November.
HOW: Toss bread cubes with delicious things, roast a chicken atop it all.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This dish is dead simple, but it has a secret: by roasting the chicken on top of the bread, it's basically a stuffing that makes itself. And we love everything about it. Case closed. —The Editors
- Prep time 24 hours 20 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour
- Serves 4
3 to 4 pound plump, free-range chicken
Kosher salt, more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, more to taste
loaf day-old sturdy, crusty bread
heads of garlic, lightly smashed, trimmed and peeled
rosemary (the larger the better)
good olive oil
Parsley, for serving (optional)
- 24 hours or so before you plan to cook, rinse and dry the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Salt it generously inside, outside, and under the skin. It's not a rub or a crust, but 2 to 3 sprinkles more than you might normally use. Place on a rack set over a plate deep enough to catch any errant chicken juice, and leave as uncovered as you feel comfortable, as the skin needs air to dry out. I create pathogen barrier of parchment or waxed paper; I'm fairly sure I am delusional about its protective properties but I have a small crowded fridge and its the best I can do.
- This would be a good time to cut or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces. Leave out in a bowl covered with a dishtowel overnight.
- When you're ready to roast, preheat oven to 375º F . Get all your garlic together and roughly chop half the herbs.
- Take the chicken out of the fridge and pat dry, removing any trace of moisture from the outside. Lay it in a layer of paper towels or a clean tea towel for a few minutes (10 or so) to take the chill off it.
- Toss the bread with 2 heads of the whole, lightly smashed garlic cloves, the chopped herbs, zest of half a lemon, and the olive oil (and whatever else you are adding).
- Pour bread mixture in to the bottom of a roasting pan.
- Cut lemon in half, and stuff into chicken cavity with remaining herbs and garlic, and truss. I would love to tell you how to truss a chicken but I can't; I end up in a wild sort free-for-all wrestling match with the thing, asking it to please keep its legs shut like a lady.
- Nestle your trussed stuffed little chicken atop its bed and place in the preheated oven.
- Depending on your oven you may need to rotate the pan every so often, and stir up the bread bits. If they get too crunchy looking, splash a half cup of stock in there and mix it around.
- After 50 to 60 or so minutes (depending on the size of your chicken and your oven) it should be done; test with a meat thermometer -- it should read 165 for 15 seconds. When it is near done (150ª F), you can add in the chicken liver either chopped of whole if you wish (I usually do).
- Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes while you get your sides together. This will give the juices time to settle in.
- Untie the chicken. Remove all the stuff inside and throw it away. Carve or cut in to pieces as you wish, but do so over a plate or a flexible cutting board. Reserve juices.
- The bread and garlic at the bottom will now be a myriad of textures, some garlic will be dark and sticky with chicken fat and some will be toasted brown, some may even still be sharp and garlicky. Pieces of bread will be crunchy, soft, gooey, chewy ...toss this all with the reserved chicken juice.
- Arrange on a platter with the chicken pieces on top, sprinkle with a bit of torn parsley if you have it for a bit of color.