Look, I’ve got nothing against turkey.
I just wanted to create a recipe for people who do.
Or, for people who are hosting Thanksgiving for a small family, a cozy party of two, or even for the 10 crowds that need a second.
By the way, that last kind of party is my favourite.
I was inspired by the spiced and glazed turkey Making Perfect.
Filmed partially in the test kitchen and partially in hometown of New Jersey, the two Test Kitchen Editors tried several different turkeys, dry rubs, glazes, and cooking methods until they came up with the best one. The perfect one.
So I wasn’t about to mess with the flavors or the cooking method that and literally perfected over the course of several hot days in July. I just wanted to swap out the main ingredient.
Turns out, the perfect Thanksgiving turkey can also be the perfect Thanksgiving chicken.
Let’s make Thanksgiving Roast Chicken
First determined that a dry brine was better than a wet brine for the bird- which is good news for all of us. A dry brine is much easier to work with.
The brine is a spicy, slightly smoky, ever-so-sweet combination of whole peppercorns, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and light brown sugar. Whenever I see a recipe that contains both garlic and onion powder, I know it’ll be a flavor bomb that I can’t resist.
Next, they determined that roasting the bird in parts, rather than whole, creates the most delicious result. Breaking up the bird allows it to cook more evenly.
Plus, cooking a turkey (or a chicken) in parts makes the whole process a lot faster.
Did I mention that this Thanksgiving chicken cooks in under an hour?
Finally, rubbing the dry-brined turkey parts in oil instead of butter created the shiniest, crackliest, crispiest skin. Since I have a lactose-intolerant mother (who is also beautiful, smart, and reading this post), I consider this another win.
making adjustments to the quantities, cooking time, and, okay, I reduced the amount of sugar by half (couldn’t help myself!).
Turkey might be perfect, but a chicken that cooks in under an hour and suits a small family or supplements a big crowd- that’s something to be thankful for.
4-5 lb whole chicken
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
4 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
Small handful of hardy herbs (such as sage, rosemary, bay leaves, and/or thyme)
2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
1 2×1″ strips orange zest
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. neutral oil (such as vegetable, peanut, or canola)
Break down the chicken into parts, leaving the breast, wings, and legs whole. Ask your butcher to do this.
Finely grind black peppercorns in a spice mill or mortar and pestle; transfer to a small bowl. Add salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, 1 teaspoon brown sugar and stir to combine.
Place chicken pieces, skin side up, on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet lined with 2 pieces of foil. Rub the salt mixture all over chicken. Chill bird, uncovered, overnight and up to 24 hours.
Before cooking, take the chicken out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about a ½ hour- it’ll cook more evenly if it’s not fridge-cold (frigid?).
Place a rack in the middle of oven; preheat to 425°. Rub chicken with oil and pour 1/2 cup water into baking sheet. Roast chicken, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until skin is mostly golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook herbs, garlic, orange zest, soy sauce, vinegar, and remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and glaze thickens slightly (it should just barely coat a spoon), 10–12 minutes. Remove glaze from heat.
Reduce oven temperature to 300° and continue to roast chicken, brushing with glaze every 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast registers 155°, and 175° when inserted into the thickest part of the thighs, 30–40 minutes longer (total cooking time will be 45–65 minutes). The dark meat might be done after just an additional 10 minutes in the oven, so watch it carefully. The breast will take longer.
Transfer chicken to a cutting board; tent loosely with foil. Let rest 10-20 minutes before carving. Drizzle on any additional glaze- don’t let that stuff go to waste.