This is the Zuni Café recipe, easy and so delicious.  Comes out perfect every time, and has become my go to chicken recipe.   

To ensure success you need to ensure three things; buy a small chicken (2 1/2 – 3 ½ lbs. – DO NOT use those large roasters).  These small chickens are designed to stay succulent at high cooking heat.  The second is to salt the bird at least 24 hours in advance. And lastly, don’t truss the chicken or rub it with extra fat.


  •  One small chicken (2 ½ – 3/1/2 lbs.)
  • 4 tender sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary, or sage (1/2 inch long)
  • Salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper

Seasoning the chicken: 2-3 days in advance

Remove and discard the lump of fat inside the chicken.  Rinse and pat very dry inside and out.  Be thorough – a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown.

Approaching from the edge of the cavity, slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets.  Use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh.  Using your finger, shove an herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets.

Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and some pepper.  Season the thick sections a little more heavily than the skinny ankles and wings.  Sprinkle of little of the salt just inside the cavity, and on the backbone, but don’t otherwise worry about seasoning the inside.  Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders.  Cover loosely and refrigerate.

When ready to roast:  preheat the oven to 475 – 500.  Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan barely larger than the chicken (or a 10 inch skillet with all metal handle).  Preheat the pan over medium heat.  Wipe the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan.  It should sizzle.

Place in the center of the oven and listen and wait for it to start sizzling and brown within 20 minutes.  If it doesn’t raise the temperature until it does.  After 30 minutes, turn the bird over and roast for another 10 – 20 minutes.  Then flip back over to re-crisp the breast skin for another 5-10 minutes.  Total oven time will be 45 -60 minutes (according to size of bird).  Let sit for 10 minutes and enjoy!

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