Roast chicken is our favourite Sunday dinner comfort food. I’m always looking for the “perfect” roast chicken, so I recently tried Julia Child’s classic recipe. It’s a little more labour intensive than most recipes, because you must turn the chicken from one side to another to cook and brown it evenly. But the results are well worth it. The chicken is juicy and the skin is brown and crisp. Served with roasted root vegetables, it’s comfort food at its best.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter that contains a single ingredient: cream. If you are making the gravy, use an all natural chicken stock, such as Imagine brand low-sodium broth.

Rub chicken with butter and place in shallow roasting pan

After five minutes, flip the chicken onto its left side

Flip the chicken from side to side to roast and brown it evenly

For the last 15 minutes or so, roast the chicken breast side up

Julia Child's Roast Chicken, served with roasted vegetables


3-pound whole roasting or frying chicken

¾ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons softened butter

1 small sliced carrot

1 small sliced onion

1 tablespoon good cooking oil

½ tablespoon minced shallots or ½ tablespoon green onion

1 cup brown chicken stock, canned chicken broth or 1 cup beef bouillon

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with ¼ teaspoon salt and smear in half the butter.

Truss the chicken and dry it thoroughly. Rub the skin with the rest of the butter.

In a small saucepan melt 2 tablespoons butter, and add 1 tablespoon cooking oil. Set aside for basting.

Place the chicken, breast up, in a shallow roasting pan. Strew the vegetables around it and set it on the rack in the middle of the preheated oven.

Allow the chicken to brown lightly for 15 minutes, turning it on the left side after 5 minutes, on the right side for the last 5 minutes, and basting it with the butter and oil after each turn. Baste rapidly so the oven does not cool off.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees.

Leave the chicken on its side and baste every 8 to 10 minutes using the fat in the roasting pan when the butter and oil are exhausted.

Halfway through estimated roasting time (about 40 minutes), salt the chicken with ¼ teaspoon of salt and turn it on its other side. Continue basting.

Fifteen minutes before the end of the estimated roasting time, salt again and turn the chicken breast up. Continue basting.

When chicken is done, discard trussing strings and set chicken on hot platter. It should sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before being carved so the juices are absorbed by the meat.

Chicken is done when it registers between 175 and 190 degrees, depending on preferred doneness.

Remove all but two tablespoons of fat from the pan. Stir in the minced shallot and cook slowly for 1 minute. Add the stock and boil rapidly over high heat, scraping up juices with a wooden spoon and letting it reduce to about ½ cup. Season with salt and pepper. Off heat and just before serving, swirl in the last 1-2 tablespoons butter.  Pour a spoonful over chicken and serve the remainder at the table from a sauceboat. Serves 4.

From Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking