dry-brined roast herb chicken

Dry-brined Roast Herb Chicken

Based on the famous recipe from Zuni café in San Francisco, the chicken is seasoned and stuffed with herbs before roasting. While the Zuni chefs opt for cooking in a brick oven, this is my “at-home” version. Drying and seasoning the chicken a day or two ahead of time acts as a dry-brine and results in evenly golden brown and crisp chicken skin and succulent, tender meat. The dry brine works just as well as a wet-brine but is a much quicker method. Be sure to pat the chicken completely dry before cooking so that the chicken doesn’t steam in the oven rather than roast. I think my favorite part about roast chicken is eating the crisp flavorful chicken skin. I always sneak bites when I think no one is looking as I’m letting the chicken rest after it comes out of the oven. This roast chicken meat saves well, it stays tender when reheated so you can make this in the beginning of the week and repurpose it a ton of different ways. 



1 (3-pound) whole chicken

8 sprigs thyme

1 tablespoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 sprigs rosemary

8 sprigs sage



1 to 2 days before serving this chicken rinse and pat completely dry. Gently slide your fingers between the breast and the skin to loosen the skin and make two pockets. Repeat with the chicken thighs. Push a sprig of thyme into each of the four pockets. Season generously with salt and pepper all over. Place in a roasting pan gently covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days.

When ready to roast, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand for 30 minutes. Pat the chicken completely dry. Preheat the oven to 475º.

Place the chicken breast-side up in a roasting dish or large oven-proof skillet. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the mix of remaining herbs. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together.

Roast the chicken for 45 minutes then baste the chicken with the pan juices and roast for another 10, until the chicken skin is crisp and the chicken is cooked through (the internal temperature should be 155º.

Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before carving.


Serves 4.



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