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Food
Poulet Roti au Beurre (Butter Roasted Chicken)

The chicken can be rubbed with oil but is not as succulent, so keep this recipe for days when you feel particularly self-indulgent, as the inclusion of the butter under the breast skin leaves the bird wonderfully moist. This chicken is so good it needs little embellishment. Simple boiled new potatoes are the perfect side dish.

3 1/2- to 4-pound roasting chicken, rinsed and patted dry (free-range is nice if you can get one)
1 onion, stuck with cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, including tarragon, chives and parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Fill the chicken's body cavity with the onion, bay leaf and lemon and season well.

Beat together the butter, garlic, herbs and more salt and pepper. Lift the skin from the neck end of the chicken away from the flesh and carefully work your hand between the skin and breast to form pockets. Divide the butter in half and fill each pocket with half of it, spreading it as far along the breast as possible without tearing the skin. Spread any remaining butter over the skin, then sprinkle all over with salt and pepper and transfer to a roasting pan (we used a rack, which allowed us to spoon the drippings and baste as often as we remembered to).

Roast the chicken for 1 1/4 to 11/2 hours until the skin is browned and the meat is cooked through. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serves 4 to 6.

Tester's note: The leftovers -- should there be any -- are fabulous.

"The Impressionists' Table" by Pamela Todd

Thursday, August 02, 2001

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