More roast chicken recipes have made their way through the F&W Test Kitchen over the years than we can count, but this one from chef-owner Jerry Traunfeld of The Herbfarm near Seattle, which was first published in F&W in July 1999, is memorable because of its garlicky-herb flavor and delicious pan juices. Bruising fresh bay leaves by holding both ends and twisting in opposite directions makes them more potent. If fresh bay leaves are unavailable, use fresh sprigs of thyme or marjoram.
Amazing Chicken Recipes
Two 3-pound chickens, preferably free range
24 fresh bay leaves, bruised, plus bay branches, for garnish
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 450°. Bend back the chicken wing tips and tuck them under their first joints. Using your fingertips, carefully loosen the chicken skin without tearing it, working your hand under the skin all the way up the breast and down into the thighs.
Tuck 2 bay leaves in the cavity of each bird. Tuck the remaining leaves under the loosened skin: 2 on each thigh and 3 on each side of each breast. Distribute the garlic evenly under the skin. Tie the legs together with string.
Set the chickens in a large, shallow roasting pan. Rub them all over with the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chickens for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the chickens are browned and the juices run clear; rotate the pan halfway through.
Remove the chickens from the oven and let stand in a warm place for 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter and garnish with the bay branches. Remove and discard the bay leaves from under the skin before carving the chickens.
A medium-bodied red, like Chianti, is the best match for this aromatic chicken.
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