You know the “last supper” game chefs play — asking one another what it is they’d request for their final meal? It’s always been a mystery for me. Everyone knows exactly what would be on their plates. Not me.

At long last I’ve discovered it has to be Thomas Keller’s simple roast chicken. A crispy, salty-skinned bird, basted with nothing more than the drippings mixed with a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves. Meat so tender it could’ve been braised.

Chicken as it should be. Unmessed around with.

To counter the chicken we whisked together a tangy aioli with scallion, walnut oil and pomegranate molasses. The complement for a TK-style roast chicken.

start with homemade mayonnaise, if possible

Weeknight meal at its finest. Not to mention [I can’t help myself], it’s a good fail-safe recipe for any new bride to have in her cooking dowry!

Thomas Keller’s Favorite Simple Roast Chicken [serves 2-4]

Printable recipe

one 2-3# whole chicken; neck, giblets and other goodies found inside the bird removed

kosher flake salt and freshly cracked black pepper

2 t minced fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, and then dry it very well with paper towels, both inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird so the wings and legs stay close to the body. The ends of the drumsticks should cover the top of the breast to keep it from drying out.

Now, salt the chicken by raining the salt over the bird to yield a nice uniform coating, about 1 T. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a cast iron or steel sauté pan [a roasting pan works too if that’s all you have] and place the chicken in the middle of the preheated oven. Roast the chicken until it’s done, about 50 to 60 minutes. Don’t baste it, and don’t add butter [you can if you wish, but TK and I don’t want to create any steam that would preclude the skin from crisping].

Remove the chicken from the oven and add the thyme to the pan juices. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme, and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Carve the bird as you see fit. [I cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each.] Serve warm with Dijon mustard or aioli on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad or hunk of crusty bread. I’d also suggest a bright Rosé wine.

Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon

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Walnut, Scallion and Pomegranate Molasses Aioli [makes about 1/2 c]

Printable recipe

1/2 c mayonnaise, homemade if you’re able [we prefer full fat made with olive oil]

1 1/2 T walnut oil

1 large or 2 small scallions, thinly sliced

2 t pomegranate molasses, or more to taste

Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve chilled or set on the table 5-10 minutes prior.

Adapted from Orangette