Roasted chicken is a hallmark of French cuisine – and perfect on chilly autumn days. Ask any chef, and you will get a different secret for making the ultimate roasted chicken. This recipe is adapted for roasting in the oven and uses a seasoning developed for Oceania Cruises by Executive Culinary Director Jacques Pépin for his rotisserie chicken in the Grand Dining Room and in Jacques on board Marina and Riviera, where you can watch the herb-crusted chicken roast to perfection on the gleaming display rotisserie.
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried sage
1½ teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon ground mace
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 whole chicken, 4½ to 5 pounds, trimmed of excess fat, or 4 Cornish hens or 8 chicken pieces (breasts and thighs)
Unsalted butter, melted
Fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt
FOR THE SEASONING BLEND
In a spice grinder, combine the bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, sage, basil, and oregano and grind to a coarse powder. Transfer the ground mixture to a small bowl and stir in the salt, paprika, ginger, coriander, mace, white pepper, cloves, and cardamom.
FOR THE CHICKEN
Preheat the oven to 400°F. If using a whole bird, truss the bird with kitchen twine.
Rub the chicken with an even coating of the seasoning blend. Store the remainder in an airtight container at room temperature for future use. Lightly dab the surface of the seasoned chicken with melted butter to help the seasoning blend adhere.
If using a whole bird, place the chicken, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. If roasting pieces, place the pieces on an elevated rack in a roasting pan. Roast the chicken in the oven until a kitchen thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh registers 160°F, about 15 to 20 minutes per pound.
Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Arrange the chicken on a platter and sprinkle with fleur de sel or Maldon salt.