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Perfect Roast Chicken a la Jacques Pépin

Pépin's time-tested technique yields a crisp-skinned, burnished bird with tender, juicy meat. You may prefer a premium brand such as Bell and Evans, but the store brand also gives good results. A supermarket fryer in the 3 1/2- to 4-pound range serves 3 or 4. It is as easy to cook two chickens as one.

3 1/2 pounds chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons butter

Roast at high heat, 400 to 425 degrees, preheating the oven and roasting pan. While the chicken is cooking, there should always be a sizzling or spitting sound. This assures the oven is hot enough to brown and cook the 3 1/2-pound bird in about an hour. Season cavity and outside of chicken with salt and pepper. Tie legs together with cotton kitchen string. Melt butter in a large skillet, and roll chicken in the melted butter. Place chicken on side in pan and bake in hot oven for 15 minutes.

Using good potholders to handle the very hot pan and a spatula to help you turn the chicken, turn on other side and bake another 15 minutes. Place chicken on its back and baste well with drippings. Bake another 25 to 35 minutes, basting frequently. If the leg joint wiggles easily, the chicken should be done. Five minutes before removing from oven, pour 1/3 cup of water into pan to melt the solidified juices and make a natural gravy.

Allow chicken to rest 20-30 minutes before carving.

Adapted from Jane Citron recipe

Sunday, November 28, 1999

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