French Fridays: Poulet Rôti

Roast chicken ready to carve on eatlivetravelwrite.comPoulet rôti. THE “fast food” to eat when in France. I mean, when your local market sells chickens like this, it’s hard to resist..

Poulet roti at Paris markets on eatlivetravelwrite.comLook at those potatoes, roasting gloriously in the dripping chicken fat. Doesn’t sound so appealing when you put it like that but oh, it’s SO good.  I’m always thankful for the poulet rôti vendors at the markets (and many butcher shops will do a good one too) in France because, depending on where I am staying, I’m never sure if I’m going to have the right equipment to roast a chicken.

(of course, at our holiday rental home, we’ve tested the oven many times and can happily report it roasts a mean poulet rôti!)

A roast chicken is the PERFECT meal to enjoy in a vacation rental property because it *feels* home cooked, without all the mess and fuss. Plus, I mean, those potatoes…

Roast chicken just out of the oven on eatlivetravelwrite.comApart from being our “fast food” treat when we are travelling in France, roast chicken is one of those meals that we cook at home on a regular basis. There’s just something about the smell of a chicken roasting that somehow makes Sunday evening a little bit more bearable as you go about your business preparing for the week ahead. And then, in our case, there are always leftovers which helps make Monday lunchtime that much more enjoyable.

The secret to a good roast chicken, failing having one of those rôtisserie machines is, in my opinion, butter. And while we don’t have ONE recipe that we follow all the time, here’s a pretty close approximation of our “standard”. Sadly, you won’t have either the spectacle of the market rôtisserie chicken or the potatoes but if you lay your bird on a bed of vegetables they’ll cook nicely. As your chicken is resting out of the oven, you can always pump up the broiler to crisp up your veggies a little before you serve them.

Poulet rôti (roast chicken)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Classic roast chicken.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: French
Serves: serves 4-6
  • 1 chicken
  • assortment of root vegetables – whatever you have on hand – sturdy ones like carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes; also thick cut onions
  • olive oil
  • zest of one lemon
  • fresh herb sprigs – thyme, rosemary, oregano (we like thyme and lemon – it’s a good combination)
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 whole lemons
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • dried Herbes de Provence
  • ½ stick (55g butter)
  • ½ stick (55g butter, melted)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425˚F.
  2. Chop the vegetables into even sized pieces and scatter them over the bottom of a roasting pan with a couple of swigs of olive oil.
  3. Zest one of the lemons and add to the vegetables.
  4. Add the fresh herbs, salt and pepper to the vegetables and combine until all vegetables are evenly coated with the oil. Make sure the vegetables are evenly distributed on the bottom of the roasting pan.
  5. Clean out the cavity of the bird and stuff it with the two lemons - one that you have already zested –chopped into halves, 4 of the garlic cloves and whatever herbs you added to the vegetable mixture.
  6. Cut the ½ stick of butter into small pieces and place most of them under the skin of the bird.
  7. Spread the remainder of the stick of butter over the outside of the skin.
  8. Season the bird with dried herbs and a touch of pepper.
  9. Place the roasting pan in the oven pre-heated to 425˚F and roast for 20 minutes, until the skin starts to brown nicely.
  10. Lower the heat to 400˚F and continue to roast the bird for around 60-70 minutes (or until a meat thermometer inserted into the high part of the thigh registers 165˚F). Normally you can count on about 20 minutes per pound of chicken.
  11. While the bird is cooking, baste it every 20 minutes or so with either the pan juices (this is difficult if the bird is sitting on the vegetable bed) or the melted butter. Add sea salt and a couple of cloves of smashed garlic to the butter whilst melting, which will season the bird as you baste.
  12. Once it’s cooked, remove from the oven, cover with foil and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before you carve it, placing the vegetables in the roasting pan back in the oven until you are ready to serve them.

** Note that for accurate cooking time, you’ll need a digital thermometer. I like this type that you can leave inside the food with the oven door closed and still keep an eye on the temperature.

Roast chicken on eatlivetravelwrite.comHappy (French) Friday. I’m already looking forward to Sunday dinner.


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8 thoughts on “French Fridays: Poulet Rôti”

  1. I can smell it now! And you are right: those potatoes! We had exactly this for lunch on market day when we were in Provence for a week. We still talk about that meal 6 years later.

  2. Harrumph.

    What Mardi failed to note was that this is a Mr. Neil classic in the household – predating the blog, in fact. (Was there life before ELTW…) 😉

    Have also found that rubbing the skin with olive oil aids in the browning, for those who like the crispy skin.


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