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Not Your Grandma's Roast Chicken: 8 Variations to Try

By Sarah Freeman
January 22, 2014

A simple roast chicken is a beautiful thing, but it's not always an easy recipe to perfect. Time, temperature and the proper herbs and spices all play into making the dish exceptional.

The Bristol has had roast chicken on their menu since it opened in 2008. "Two key components of a great roast chicken are crispy skin and a juicy meat," chef Chris Pandel told us. "We are able to achieve both by de-boning the half chicken and cooking it entirely on the skin side, allowing for the skin to render completely as it roasts in the oven. We baste it simply with butter, garlic, shallot, rosemary and thyme to accent the flavors of the natural chicken jus.” See, not so easy. 

Although a long-time proponent, the Bucktown restaurant is not the only one elevating this classic dish to tasty new heights. Here are eight exceptional interpretations of the roasted chicken.

  • Bavette's Bar and Boeuf

    This swanky steakhouse serves more than just fine cuts of beef. Its roasted chicken is served on the bone with lemon and rosemary over chicken jus. Make this decadent dish even more extravagant with the addition of wild mushrooms or roasted bone marrow.

    218 W. Kinzie St.; 312-624-8154

  • The Bristol

    This aforementioned roast bird does indeed achieve the perfect balance of crispy skin and juicy meat, using chickens from Miller's Farm. It also is served with dill spaetzle and crunchy apple and celery salad. Chef Pandel says the garnishes allow for a contrast in texture and temperature with the braised chicken leg. The rich sauce and acidic vinaigrette bring balance to the dish.

    2152 N. Damen Ave.; 773-862-5555

  • Photo by: Galdones Photography

    Embeya

    Chef Thai Dang treats the chicken at Embeya like your favorite Chinese restaurant treats pecking duck. The bird is deboned, brined in soy, sugar, cilantro, shallot, ginger and garlic overnight and then hung to dry and brushed with glaze. The dried chickens are roasted and quickly fried before being sliced into rounds.

    564 W. Randolph St.; 312-612-5640

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    La Sirena Clandestina

    Chef John Manion gives his chicken a bit of Latin love with the addition of linguica. Crispy Amish chicken thighs are served with the spicy sausage in addition to tender fingerling potatoes and Tuscan kale. Once again, this bird respects the crispy skin and juicy meat mantra.

    954 W. Fulton Mkt.; 312-226-5300

  • Pecking Order

    When in the mood for perfectly cooked chicken, go to the place that makes it its calling. Each bird is marinated overnight in tamari, sugar, garlic and bay leaves before it is stuffed with lemongrass and ginger and slow cooked in the rotisserie and based with annatto-calamansi butter.

    4416 N. Clark St.; 773-907-9900

  • Perennial Virant

    It’s out of the oven and into the pan for chef Paul Virant’s pan-roasted chicken Ballotine. The rustic dish is served with roasted squash puree, Brussels sprouts, River Valley mushrooms and chicken veloute. This dish originally starred rabbit, but was later subbed out for the more pedestrian meat.

    1800 N. Lincoln Ave.; 312-981-7070

  • Tanta

    Start with a sustainably-raised whole Amish chicken, add a blend of Peruvian spices and chilies and then roast in a rotisserie oven. The result is a beautiful whole of half bird served with braised cannellini beans, arroz con choclo, criolla salad, rustic potatoes and aji sauces.

    118 W. Grand Ave.; 312-222-9700

  • Two

    Swan Creek Farms chickens are brined in-house, halved and roasted to order. The birds are first roasted in a pan and then finished in the oven with a lemon thyme sauce. The chicken comes with the chef’s choice of roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes or polenta.

    1132 W. Grand Ave.; 312-624-8363

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Places Mentioned

La Sirena Clandestina

Latin American • West Loop

Food25 Decor22 Service24 Cost$39
 
 
 
The Bristol

American • Bucktown

Food26 Decor22 Service23 Cost$41
 
 
 
Embeya Restaurant

Thai • West Loop

Food25 Decor26 Service24 Cost$48
 
 
 
Tanta

Peruvian • River North

Food27 Decor25 Service24 Cost$52
 
 
 
Perennial Virant

American • Old Town

Food25 Decor23 Service24 Cost$50
 
 
 
Bavette's Bar & Boeuf

French • River North

Food26 Decor26 Service24 Cost$65
 
 
 
 
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