Sunday, March 18, 2018

Thrice Roasted Chicken with Rosemary, Lemon & Pepper

This thrice-roasted chicken recipe from The New York Times is one of my favorite chicken dishes of all time. A friend mocked me for writing "Thrice roasted..." but that was the headline for the story so blame the NYT. You will need to make time to prepare this chicken---the first day is devoted to brining, the second day is for preparing an herb rub, and the third day you will actually cook the chicken,  but at the end, it only takes 40 minutes to cook and you will be doing a little victory dance once everyone settles down to eat it. I made this for Passover 2016 and am making it again for Passover 2018. The original recipe is from Justine Smillie, the chef at Upland in New York, and adapted by Julia Moskin.

As always, I recommend using good chicken. I get mine from my friend Terri, who orders it from Goffle Road Poultry Farm in New Jersey. 

Thrice-Roasted Chicken With Rosemary, Lemon and Pepper

Crowd-pleasing, but not at all boring. First you brine the chicken for juicy flesh; then air it out to get crispy skin; then rub it with an herb paste to give it flavor. This takes time — you'll need two days for the brining and drying — but the actual cooking is minimal. Don’t be alarmed by the idea of “thrice” roasting — it’s a basic restaurant technique of searing a protein on top of the stove, cooking it through in the oven, then bringing it back onto the stove for a final basting (with butter, of course). A large, heavy skillet is all you need to pull this off.


  • 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
  • 4 fresh thyme or small rosemary sprigs
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup black peppercorns, toasted and roughly crushed
  • 3 ½ to 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (use whole breasts or legs, or a combination)


  • ½ teaspoon toasted black peppercorns
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tablespoons apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ garlic clove, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
  •  Olive oil and kosher salt


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar(optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, more to taste (optional)
  •  Salt and ground black pepper

  1. Brine the chicken: Using your fingers, rub bay leaf and thyme sprigs until fragrant. In a large nonreactive container, combine 1 gallon cold water with the herbs, salt, sugar, lemon and peppercorns. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Add chicken, making sure pieces are completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.
  2. Make the rub: Combine peppercorns, parsley and rosemary in a mortar or a small food processor. Crush together until peppercorns are finely ground. Mix in mustard, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, garlic and anchovy paste. Rub should be thick, but not stiff; loosen with a little olive oil if needed. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  3. Remove chicken from brine and rinse under cold running water. Thoroughly pat it dry with paper towels. Once paper towels come away completely dry, smear the skin with the rub until evenly coated.
  4. Place the chicken, skin side up, on a cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, or until the rub dries and doesn’t smudge easily when prodded.
  5. Cook the chicken: Remove chicken from refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Slick a large, heavy pan, preferably cast iron, with a thin coating of oil and set over medium heat. When oil is shimmering-hot, lay chicken in pan, skin side down. Press down slightly on the pieces so their skin is in maximum contact with the pan. Raise heat to medium-high and sear chicken for 7 minutes, or until edges turn golden brown. You should hear a steady, loud sizzle, but no popping sounds; reduce heat if needed.
  7. Without flipping pieces, transfer pan to oven and roast for 17 minutes, or until breast juices run clear and drumsticks wiggle easily at their joints. When ready, the meat should be about 140 degrees at its thickest part.
  8. Finish the chicken: Remove pan from oven and place on stovetop over medium-low heat. Add butter, bay leaf and herb sprigs. As butter begins to foam, tip the pan slightly and baste chicken with butter for 2 to 3 minutes, or just until butter browns. 
  9. Remove chicken from pan and place pieces, skin side up, on a cooling rack set over a large rimmed baking sheet. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes so the juices settle and skin crisps. The internal temperature should be about 160 degrees. If you'd like, carve the pieces, separating the whole breast into two or four pieces, and separating the thighs from drumsticks. Place chicken on a warmed serving platter. 
  10. Make vinaigrette, if desired: Pour all the drippings back into the roasting pan. Whisk in vinegar and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour around the chicken. (Alternatively, simply pour the drippings from the cutting board around the pieces.) Serve immediately.

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