I do not claim to have a similar level of experience. In fact, some of you may be surprised to learn that as of yesterday, I had never roasted even a single chicken. And yet, on my very first attempt, I achieved a marvelous roast chicken: papery, crisp skin and flavorful, juicy meat, the two pillars of roast chicken perfection. A cook less modest than I might credit exclusively his own skill, but I will admit, in addition, to just a bit of beginner's luck. (Note: the recipe has been translated into the present imperative. No other changes have been made.)
- Acquire a small-ish chicken.
- Preheat your oven to 425 F.
- Rinse and dry the chicken, including the cavity.
- Prepare a paste of 1-2 tbsp good mustard, 3-4 tbsp softened butter, assorted green herbs, a bit of paprika, and a healthy amount of salt.
- Carefully separate the skin from the meat and spread the paste all around the chicken under the skin.
- Generously salt the cavity and stuff with a halved orange and a few rosemary sprigs.
- Take a cast-iron skillet large enough to hold the chicken and line with cubes of old bread. Salt the bread cubes and place the chicken on top.
- Roast at 425 for 45-60 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes before carving.
The bread cubes will become crisped on one side and suffused with delicious chicken juice on the other. They can be eaten by themselves or used as croutons on a green salad.