Smoke-Alarm Chicken

This recipe comes from Judy Rodgers and The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. I gave it this odd title because every time I make it, one of our smoke alarms goes off (it's the high heat that does it).

Take a whole chicken and salt it up the day before you are going to cook. This is all the prep you do on the bird--no butter or herbs here.

On the big day, preheat your oven to 475. Before placing chicken in the oven, preheat a cast iron pan on medium-high heat. Put your chicken in the hot pan, breast up, place in hot oven and set the timer for about 30 minutes. ( The timing depends on the bird's size. If you've got a super-bird that weighs in at 7 lbs, you may need to add five minutes to each section; if you've got a 3 1/2 lb. Hoffman, you should subtract 5 minutes.)

When your timer dings, quickly take out the bird and flip it.

Set the timer again, for 20 minutes. When that's up, flip the bird back, and set it for another 10.
When that timer dings, you are done. You never change the temperature, and you do not need to baste or stuff or anything.

Here's the option the photo explored: When you pull out the chicken, pick up the bird and pour out much of the drippings. Throw a few handfuls of greens--mustard greens, broccoli raab, arugula--into the pan to wilt. Serve with your bird.

Let the bird rest for about 10 minutes, then carve it up and eat.

Crispy deliciousness.


  1. I'm going to make this dish tonight Erin. Your photos are stupendous! Can't WAIT to buy your book!!!

  2. Cynna, this is still our go-to chicken recipe! Enjoy!
    xoxo E

  3. This is our all time favorite chicken recipe, Erin, although you sure named it right! Thanks so much! Gilda

  4. This was an easy way to do the chicken and it came out really moist and delicious. I set up fans to blow the heat out of the kitchen through the window and I only had the smoke alarm go off once briefly. I think it was the 1rst time I ever enjoyed hearing the alarm. Thanks again.

  5. Marry, so great to hear about your experience with this recipe! Thank you for taking the time to leave your wonderful comments.
    BTW... we now do the same technique using our outdoor gas grill as our oven. No more bleeping smoke alarms;)

  6. Hi Erin,
    Just made our favorite chicken again. Had to wait for the weather to be mild enough to leave all the windows open. This is definitely a Spring and Fall recipe for us...too cold in winter to open windows, too hot in summer to have oven so high! We sure do look forward to Spring and Fall. And yup, our smoke alarm went off. That's how I know I'm doing it right. Must go put the battery back in. Big hugs to all of you.
    Xoxo Gilda

    1. Ah Gilda! So sweet to hear from you and I'm so glad you like the chicken as much as we do! We've started to use our outdoor gas grill for this recipe so we no longer set off the smoke alarms!
      Huge hugs to you guys,


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