best-ever roast chicken & potatoes

4 to 6    |   
Prep Time:
20 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
1-1/2 hours

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roast chicken

This recipe has its origins in my days at Sunset books, when I learned this method for roasting potatoes (secret: melt the butter in the oven first). The chicken owes a debt to Susan Herrmann Loomis, whose Italian Farmhouse cookbook has the definitive recipe for roasting chicken with rosemary salt.


1 free-range roasting chicken (about 3 pounds)
sea salt
1/2 lemon
1 branch fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove
olive oil
fresh parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)

1 pound small red new potatoes
1 pound small yukon gold potatoes
1 sweet potato (about 12 ounces)
1 large yellow onion
4 to 6 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper


Preheat an oven to 375°F. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels inside and out. Sprinkle inside of cavity with a teaspoon of sea salt, then squeeze the juice of the half lemon in there. Put squeezed lemon half in the cavity. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and set aside (don’t worry about tying legs together).

Strip the leaves from rosemary branch and place on a cutting board with the garlic clove and another teaspoon of sea salt. With a sharp knife, mince together. Drizzle the chicken with a few teaspoons of olive oil, then rub the rosemary-salt mixture over the whole bird (don’t forget the underside). Put chicken in the oven and roast 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces (do not peel). Peel sweet potato and cut into 1-inch pieces. Cut onion in half, then cut each half into 1-inch pieces. Whack garlic cloves with side of a knife to pop out of skins, then cut peeled cloves in half.

After chicken has been in oven 30 minutes, put butter and oil in a large glass baking dish and place in the oven for a few minutes until butter is melted and sizzling. Remove dish and add potatoes, onion, and garlic halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir with a big spoon so potatoes are coated with butter, then return dish to oven. Continue roasting 1 hour or until chicken is golden and crispy and legs wiggle easily in joints when moved, and potatoes are crispy and tinged with brown. Remove roasting pan from oven and with mitts, turn chicken over on rack to let juices run into breast meat; let chicken rest like this for 10 to 15 minutes. If potatoes are not done, continue to roast them while chicken sits.

To serve, cut legs off chicken; if desired separate thighs from drumsticks. Slice off breasts and wings. Cut breasts in half crosswise so you have a total of 6 to 8 pieces of chicken. Drain the fat from the pan juices and spoon the juices over the chicken. Place chicken on a platter and garnish with parsley; serve potatoes alongside.