Thrice-Roasted Chicken With Rosemary, Lemon and Pepper

Thrice-Roasted Chicken With Rosemary, Lemon and Pepper

This recipe from Justin Smillie, the chef at Upland in New York, is all about layering extra flavors, textures and fragrances onto a basic herb-roasted chicken. It’s perfect for a dinner party: crowd-pleasing, but not at all boring. First you brine the chicken for juicy flesh; then air it out to get crispy skin; then rub it with an herb paste to give it flavor. This takes time — you'll need two days for the brining and drying — but the actual cooking is minimal. Don’t be alarmed by the idea of “thrice” roasting — it’s a basic restaurant technique of searing a protein on top of the stove, cooking it through in the oven, then bringing it back onto the stove for a final basting (with butter, of course). A large, heavy skillet is all you need to pull this off.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 6 persons



  1. Step 1

    Brine the chicken: Using your fingers, rub bay leaf and thyme sprigs until fragrant. In a large nonreactive container, combine 1 gallon cold water with the herbs, salt, sugar, lemon and peppercorns. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Add chicken, making sure pieces are completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.
  2. Step 2

    Make the rub: Combine peppercorns, parsley and rosemary in a mortar or a small food processor. Crush together until peppercorns are finely ground. Mix in mustard, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, garlic and anchovy paste. Rub should be thick, but not stiff; loosen with a little olive oil if needed. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  3. Step 3

    Remove chicken from brine and rinse under cold running water. Thoroughly pat it dry with paper towels. Once paper towels come away completely dry, smear the skin with the rub until evenly coated.
  4. Step 4

    Place the chicken, skin side up, on a cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, or until the rub dries and doesn’t smudge easily when prodded.
  5. Step 5

    Cook the chicken: Remove chicken from refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Step 6

    Slick a large, heavy pan, preferably cast iron, with a thin coating of oil and set over medium heat. When oil is shimmering-hot, lay chicken in pan, skin side down. Press down slightly on the pieces so their skin is in maximum contact with the pan. Raise heat to medium-high and sear chicken for 7 minutes, or until edges turn golden brown. You should hear a steady, loud sizzle, but no popping sounds; reduce heat if needed.
  7. Step 7

    Without flipping pieces, transfer pan to oven and roast for 17 minutes, or until breast juices run clear and drumsticks wiggle easily at their joints. When ready, the meat should be about 140 degrees at its thickest part.
  8. Step 8

    Finish the chicken: Remove pan from oven and place on stovetop over medium-low heat. Add butter, bay leaf and herb sprigs. As butter begins to foam, tip the pan slightly and baste chicken with butter for 2 to 3 minutes, or just until butter browns.
  9. Step 9

    Remove chicken from pan and place pieces, skin side up, on a cooling rack set over a large rimmed baking sheet. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes so the juices settle and skin crisps. The internal temperature should be about 160 degrees. If you'd like, carve the pieces, separating the whole breast into two or four pieces, and separating the thighs from drumsticks. Place chicken on a warmed serving platter.
  10. Step 10

    Make vinaigrette, if desired: Pour all the drippings back into the roasting pan. Whisk in vinegar and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour around the chicken. (Alternatively, simply pour the drippings from the cutting board around the pieces.) Serve immediately.