Poulet Rôti (Roast Chicken)

I’ve tried other recipes for roast chicken, but I keep coming back to Julia Child’s classic recipe for poulet rôti. Julia’s method involves flipping and continuously basting the chicken in an oil and butter mixture to produce a crispy-skinned, golden brown bird. It’s time consuming, sure, but for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to have a rotisserie in our kitchen, it’s pretty much the best way I’ve found to make sure the chicken roasts evenly, and stays juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

To roast the bird, an enameled cast-iron roasting pan works best, but a large cast iron skillet, a ceramic casserole, or metal pan is also fine. While a v-rack in your roasting pan is nice, it’s not really necessary for this recipe. If you like, you can skip the carrots and onions (although the resulting pan juices may not be as flavorful). Alternatively, you can enhance the flavor and aroma of your poulet rôti by stuffing the chicken with a few cloves of garlic, a halved lemon, or fresh herbs (such as tarragon, thyme, rosemary, or sage) before you finish the trussing.

If you’ve never trussed a chicken before, I strongly recommend you look up how to do so- there are numerous video and photo tutorials online (like this super easy trussing tuorial from Instructables) that can walk you through it, and it really does help the chicken maintain its shape and cook evenly without drying out any of the extremities.

Recipe adapted from ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1,’ by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Penguin Random House)

Ingredients:One 3½-to-4-pound chicken, patted dry with paper towels

  • 1 tablespoon salt, divided
  • 4 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons softened and 2 tablespoons melted
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Rinse and remove any giblets from the inside of the chicken. Thoroughly dry the chicken by patting it dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with 1 teaspoon of the salt and smear on 1 tablespoon of the softened butter. Truss the bird with kitchen twine, then rub it with the other tablespoon of softened butter.

2. Scatter the carrot and onion slices in a roasting pan and place the chicken on top, breast up. Stir the oil into the melted butter to use for basting.

3. Roast the chicken to brown lightly for 15 minutes, rotating it onto its left side after 5 minutes and onto its right side for the last 5 minutes, basting with every rotation.

4. Keep the chicken on its right side and lower the oven to 350°. Baste and season with another teaspoon of salt. Roast for 15 minutes, then rotate back to its left side, baste and season with the remaining teaspoon of salt. Roast another 15 minutes.

5. Rotate the chicken back onto its back, breast up. Baste and continue to roast until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165° when inserted into the thigh with an instant-read thermometer, 20 to 25 minutes more.

6. Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer to a hot platter. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving, serving with its juices and roast vegetables.