poulet rôti

the classic rotisserie chicken

No day at the market or Sunday walk to Mass is complete without the smell of les pouletes rôtis, rotisserie chickens suspended over new potatoes & whole cloves of garlic. Joe & I caved in several times, grabbing a cheap bottle of table wine to enjoy with the crispy skin & buttery flavor of real, fresh chicken.

When in Rome France…

It wasn’t long before I decided to roast my first bird, or rather before a student gave me a duck she’d shot while hunting with her father. Luckily, the poor little guy was cleaned for me. I made duck à l’orange and was amazed at how easily a bird goes into the oven & comes out délicieux. I roasted several chickens over the course of that year, learning to love the spicy, earthy bite of turnips.

When turnips turned up in our CSA portion last Saturday, I knew exactly where they were going. Our co-op sells farm-fresh roasting chickens for the incredible price of $7 a bird–that was cheaper than buying a few breasts!

So, after speaking to a butcher, reading a magazine’s recipe (found at our nearby grocery) & staring at the speckles of herbs on the market poulets, I put my recipe together. By that, I mean I roasted a chicken the way everyone has ever roasted a chicken. Here we go. This is the easiest thing ever. I promise. You need:

  • one chicken, the size you need (about 2-3 pounds)
  • enough new potatoes for everyone to have three or four(so you don’t have to cut them up)
  • one large or two small turnips a person (or three if you’re like me), peeled
  • a palm full of carrot chunks per person(about 1.5 large, peeled & largely chunked carrot)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper, rosemary
  • lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled


  1. Make sure your chicken is thawed. Rinse her off so she’s not all bloody. Let her dry for about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. First of all, gather your spices. I always use rosemary, kosher salt, black pepper then add whatever I feel like–chili powder, thyme, bay leaf. Open them so you’re not all gross & raw-chicken-covered when you want to mess with them.
  3. Put your prepared vegetables in your oven-safe pan (a dutch oven, a brownie pan if you’re ill-equipped like I am, whatever). Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper. Toss.
  4. Get your chicken. If needed, truss your chicken.  Many come pre-trussed. How kind! (I wasn’t able to do this, as I had no twine. I just really make sure all limbs are tucked under the bird to prevent burning.) Drizzle very lightly with olive oil. Toss some salt on top to get that crispy skin. Add other spices, as you wish. Rub them into the bird a bit–under the wings, on the underside, getting all those hidden, yummy parts.
  5. Cut the lemon in half & stick a half in the bird’s cavity. Use the other half for gin or vodka tonics. (You have to do something for the next hour, anyway!)
  6. Hit the garlic cloves with something heavy (or the flat side of a knife) so they’re a bit smashed. Tuck one under each wing & one in the cavity, with the lemon.
  7. You’re ready! Plop your bird on top of your vegetables. Put in the oven for 50-60 minutes.
  8. Rotate the pan every 15 minutes & toss some of the juices running out back over the bird, to keep it from drying out. Stir your vegetables as much as possible, to keep them soaking up the juices as well.
  9. Open the cheapest bottle of wine you’ve got. Slice some fresh bread or toast some garlic bread. Calm down. Relax. Eat with your fingers. Have good conversation.

P.S. Tell my that Paris gif isn’t amazing.


About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
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