Sunday, April 12, 2020

Julia Child's Roast Chicken {The Very Best Roast Chicken Ever}!

Way back in the day, before I was born, my Mom and my Grandma used to love watching episodes of Julia Child's The French Chef. They lovingly called Julia, 'Julia Chicken', because Julia was always prancing about with chickens on her show. 

I'm not sure if my Mom or Grandma ever cooked a Julia Chicken recipe. If I had to guess, I'd say probably not. My mom wasn't ever one for recipes. She was too much of a rebel, always doing her own thing in the kitchen, and in life. Plus, I never found any Julia cookbooks amongst their belongings.

Years ago, my Dad bought me Julia's Mastering The Art Of French Cooking, the 50th Anniversary Edition, for Christmas. It sat on my bookshelves, as part of my collection for years, until now.

I know everyone thinks of the classic Beef Bourguignon when they think of Julia. I can't help but think of Julia Chicken, and my Mom and Grandma.

This is our first week cooking the recipes of Julia Child, and I could hardly think of a recipe more fitting than Julia's Roast Chicken. NOW, THIS IS NOT YOUR ORDINARY RECIPE FOR ROAST CHICKEN! Oh no, ma'am. What sets Julia's recipe apart from the many other roast chicken recipes is the simple fact that Julia's chicken gets flipped and basted at 5, 10, 15-minute intervals, the entire time it cooks, making for a wonderfully buttery-flavored bird that is more reminiscent of a rotisserie chicken than anything else.  

The aroma of this chicken cooking is simply intoxicating! A lovely, buttery, juicy roast chicken like no other. I know my Mom and Grandma would approve, and I sure wish they could've tasted it, because they probably would've called her 'Julia, the Queen of Chicken.' I'm telling you folks, prior to this I was real fond of Ina Garten's Engagement Roast Chicken (and you should make that one too), but I dare say that Julia's recipe is better! Julia Child's recipe for Roast Chicken is THE recipe for Roast Chicken! Yes, it's finicky, and yes, you will be setting alarms and flipping your chicken back and forth for a while, but PLEASE DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND MAKE IT! It is simply seductive!

Make sure to buy a high-quality chicken. I prefer organic and pasture-raised! It makes a difference. Trust me!

Julia's Roast Chicken {Poulet Roti}
Adapted from Mastering The Art of French Cooking
by Julia Child
Serves 4

A 3-pound chicken
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons softened butter
a shallow roasting pan just large enough to hold the chicken easily
a small sliced carrot and onion
 a small saucepan
 2 tablespoons melted butter 
1 tablespoon good oil
a basting brush
salt, to season the chicken
1/2 tablespoon minced shall or green onion
1 cup brown chicken stock or chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 - 2 tablespoons butter

Note: A 3-pound chicken will cook for approximately 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes. My suggestion is to start a timer, controlling the total cook time, while you set your oven to 5, 10, 15-minute intervals for turning the chicken. 

My chicken was 3.74 pounds and it cooked in about an hour and 20 minutes. However, I forgot to turn the oven temp down from 425 F to 350 F at the halfway mark so it probably would've cooked longer at 350F. 

It's worth noting that you want to make sure to find a roasting pan (I used my 10" cast iron skillet) that is just a touch bigger than the chicken. You want your roasting pan to "hug" the chicken. You'll also want to cut your veggies a decent size as to prevent burning. I'll also tell you that this is where you'll want to buy a quality bird, preferably organic and pasture-raised.  It makes a difference. Trust me! Enjoy! This is THE recipe!

 Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with the salt, and smear in half the butter. Truss the chicken. Dry it thoroughly, and rub the skin with the rest of the butter.

Place the chicken breast up in the roasting pan. Strew the vegetables around it, and set it on a rack in the middle of the preheated oven.  Allow the chicken to brown lightly for 15 minutes, turning it on the left side after 5 minutes, on the right side for the last 5 minutes, and basting it with the butter and oil after each turn. Baste rapidly, so the oven does not cool off. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Leave the chicken on its side, and baste every 8 to 10 minutes, using the fat in the roasting pan when the butter and oil are exhausted. Regulate oven heat so the chicken is making cooking noises, but fat is not burning.

Halfway through the estimated roasting time, salt the chicken and turn it on its other side. Continue

Fifteen minutes before the end of estimated roasting time, salt again and turn the chicken breast up. Continue basting.

Indications that the chicken is almost done are: a sudden rain of sputters in the oven, swelling of the breast and slight puff of the skin, the drumstick is tender when pressed and can be moved in its socket. To check further, prick the thickest part of the drumstick with a fork. Its juices should run clear yellow. As a final check, lift the chicken and drain the juices from its vent. If the last drops are clear yellow, the chicken is definitely done. If not, roast another 5 minutes, and test again.

When done, discard trussing strings and set the chicken on a hot platter. It should sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before being carved, so its juices will retreat back into the tissues. 

Remove all but two tablespoons of fat from the pan. Stir in the minced shallot or onion and cook slowly for 1 minute. Add the stock and boil rapidly over high heat, scraping up coagulated roasting juices with a wooden spoon and letting the liquid reduce to about 1/2 cup. Season with salt and pepper. Off heat and just before serving, swirl in the enrichment butter by bits until it has been absorbed. Pour a spoonful of the sauce over the chicken, and send the rest to the table in a sauceboat.

**Roast chicken can wait for 20 to 30 minutes in the turned-off hot oven, its door ajar. It cannot be reheated or it loses it's fresh and juicy quality.

IHCC: Bon Appetit, Julia!



  1. Julia's roast chicken sounds like such a classic!!

  2. Kim, this Julie chicken is perfection. You can see the swell of the breast and the puff of the skin. What can be better and who wouldn't love a bite of this?

  3. Thanks for sharing such a informative post with us, keep sharing your thought

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