Roasted chicken with crème fraiche and herbs, from Mimi Thorisson’s A Kitchen in France.

Roasted chicken with creme fraiche and herbs

It’s August now (how is it August?) and we’ve been largely avoiding the oven as much as possible because it’s been either hot, humid, or both and so we’ve largely been using our Griddler and the stove and also resorting to ceviche pretty frequently too. So it may seem pretty weird to be writing about roasted chicken right now, but I guess it’s my form of solace: if I can’t eat it right now, I can at least write about it, you know?

This recipe originally comes from Mimi Thorisson’s A Kitchen in France, a cookbook that garnered a little controversy a few months after it came out because of a kerfluffle during the first round of judging for Food52’s Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks competition. In retrospect it was all a bit silly (Tim at Lottie + Doof has a good little recap with relevant links here) and while in theory something like this doesn’t matter, it still feels emblematic of how men and women are perceived in food media. Thorisson was criticized for having too much of a schtick in her book, and because it was decidedly feminine it was considered lesser than the schtick of her opponent’s book, which was unapologetically more masculine and “badass.” That the person judging both books couldn’t see his own biases influencing his decision was frustrating at the time, and I think that’s what turned it into the aforementioned kerfluffle.

And that doesn’t mean that the book was immune from criticism; the number of photos were a bit over-the-top versus the number of recipes, and like most bloggers’ first books the recipes that were in there were ones you could largely have for free from her site. But it was a pretty accurate reflection of what her blog was like in book form, and it’s pretty lovely to flip through when in search of dinner inspiration.

And the thing is, the recipes in this book are fucking delicious too. This chicken is easily one of my favorite ways to roast chicken now, and when we made it not long after the Daylight Savings transition it felt like we had the most wonderful way to transition from winter into spring. The crème fraiche adds such a nice luxurious touch to the chicken—even more so than butter—and keeps the chicken extra juicy. The herbs add freshness, and what’s cool about this recipe is that you can absolutely adapt it to use the herbs that are available at that particular time of year.

And truthfully, I am going to try some other ingredients in this the next time I make it, like spices that might get blasted in a hot oven over an hour by themselves but are more protected because of the crème fraiche acting as a sort of barrier. I’d also love to see how this works when combined with herbs you might see in an herbes de Provence mixture, because how good does that sound?

Since it is August, I know that the time will come for us to roast chickens sooner rather than later, so at least I have this to look forward to making once again.

Roasted chicken with crème fraiche and herbs

Lightly adapted from A Kitchen in France

  • 1 3-3 ½ pound chicken, preferably kosher
  • 1 ¼ cups crème fraiche (check your package—she calls for 300 ml and the packages I can find are usually smaller than that so you may need two)
  • 1 bunch parsley, leaves removed and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt, for serving

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly season the chicken all over with kosher salt and place it in a roasting pan.

In one bowl, combine the crème fraiche, garlic, parsley, and leaves from a few thyme sprigs , and shallots and then season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Use about half of the mixture into the cavity of the chicken, and the other half should be spread all over the outside of chicken, making sure to get under the thighs and wings.

Roast the chicken in the oven for an hour or until the chicken thigh is at a temperature at 165 degrees. Check in on the chicken halfway through and add a little water if the pan seems dry.

When the chicken is done, remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes under some tin foil before carving and serving. Serve with additional sea salt if desired.


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