Million dollar chicken tastes like a million bucks, seasoned with fresh herbs, and brushed with an amazing creme fraiche glaze full of lemon zest, garlic, and a kick of spice.
A fancy spin on classics like my juicy roast chicken, the meat is juicy, the recipe is easy and the thick slices of bread soak up all those delicious flavors from the glaze for something the family will definitely fight over, it’s so good!
It seems like everyone knows this recipe thanks to the marvelous Miss Ina Garten.
First of all, I want to marvel at this woman for a second: She worked in the White House writing the nuclear energy budget, got her pilot’s license, was mentored by Martha Stewart, and lives this amazing life in the Hamptons with her husband and a bunch of fabulous friends in a cozy, New Urban neighborhood.
Honestly, can I be the southern Ina Garten when I grow up?
“Use the good vanilla, y’all.” I’ll tell y’all from my fancy estate in Virginia and I’ll invite you all to have bougie brunches in my garden with my friends who are all florists and event planners.
I need to find some florist and event planner friends. And an estate in Virginia.
Anyway, this is about the Million Dollar Chicken, which actually comes from the restaurant, The Standard Grill. Let me tell you, this recipe should be called A Really Tasty Roasted Chicken Recipe AND THE BEST BREAD YOU WILL EVER EAT IN YOUR LIFE.
You place a whole chicken in a skillet with a piece or two of thickly sliced bread under the chicken. While the bird is roasting, you brush a decadent mixture of creme fraiche (a luxurious, thick, rich soured cream with about 30-40% butterfat *whew, LAWD!*), grated shallot, fragrant lemon zest, lemon juice, and aleppo pepper.
Creme fraiche can be found in specialty areas of your grocery store, but if you cannot find it in your store, I have a recipe on how to make your own homemade creme fraiche. Not only is it super easy to make, but it’s also cheaper homemade!
You brush the flavorful glaze over the chicken every 10-15 minutes after the initial browing, and those thick slices of bread just sop up all that fat rendering off the chicken and the melting creme fraiche glaze and caramelizes as the chicken roasts. It may get a little dark, but don’t worry, you’re not burning the chicken, that’s all that glaze caramelizing and it’s. so. delicious.
I promise you, the chicken is delicious, it’s oh, so juicy, it’s well-seasoned, and you can taste the herbs, garlic, and lemon you stuff inside it…
…but that bread? That bread though? You will be talking about the bread. If you’re making dinner for more than two, you will be fighting for more of that bread.
I’ll rename this “The Million Dollar Bread with Amazingly Juicy Roasted Chicken” Recipe.
Not only is this recipe super easy, but also impressive. Who roasts a whole chicken with amazing life-changing bread? You do, that’s who. Your date, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your mama, everyone who gets a taste of this juicy chicken and steals a piece of that amazing bread will love this recipe.
In fact, I would definitely call this engagement chicken. My family has engagement cake…but if I had this recipe when I was 17, this would’ve been engagement chicken.
Tips on perfect Million Dollar Chicken:
Do step one the night before. Letting all those flavors and seasonings have time to sink into the chicken really levels this recipe up.
Resting the chicken both before and after you roast is important. The proteins in meats, including chicken, need to relax before cooking. Getting that chill off your bird ensure you have an evenly cooked and juicy meal on your hands.
Letting it rest afterward lets the juices redistribute, since cooking causes them to come towards the surface. If you cut into the chicken without resting, all those juices will run out as it cools, leaving you a dry bird.
You can use other herbs for your bird, including sage. I love sage in poultry especially for the holidays, so if you’re making million dollar chicken for Thanksgiving or Christmas, don’t be afraid to add some ground classic holiday spices to the creme fraiche glaze.
This recipe also works for cornish hens and smaller chickens (and larger! I’ve done it with a nice 5 1/2 pounder) too. Just adjust the time and use a meat thermometer to make sure that the temperature is at 165 degrees F (or 74 degrees C) in the thickest part of the thigh before serving. I have a general time per pound guide in the recipe notes.
This recipe is fancy enough for any holiday; talking Valentine’s, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas for a small family, Thanksgiving for those who don’t do turkey, yet it’s simple enough to make for a fancy Sunday Supper.
For a full menu, serve this Million Dollar Chicken (and bread) up with:
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- 4 lb Whole Chicken, gizzards removed
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
- 2 tsp (2g) herbs de provence
- Regular olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 slices day old bread (sliced 1 inch thick each)
- 1 lemon, quartered
Creme Fraiche Glaze
- 1/2 cup (240g) Creme Fraiche
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 shallot, grated
- 1 tsp (3g) Aleppo Pepper (OR Spanish paprika)
- The night before you cook the chicken, pat the skin of the chicken dry season it well inside and out with salt, pepper, and herbs de provence. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic, the lemon quarters, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme. Truss the legs with butcher's twine if desired. Refrigerate overnight. This step can be done the day of, up to an hour before step two.
- When ready to cook, take the chicken out of the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to roast it, this will relax the proteins so the skin doesn't rip. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
- While chicken is coming to temperature, mix together all the ingredients for the creme fraiche glaze. Set aside.
- In an oven-safe skillet or cast iron skillet large enough to hold the chicken (but not a ton of empty space, a 12 inch cast iron or stainless still would do), oil the pan lightly with olive oil, place the pieces of bread in the center of the skillet and then put the chicken on top of the bread. Drizzle the bird lightly with olive oil. Place the skillet in the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes.
- Turn down temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and baste the bird generously with the creme fraiche glaze every 10 to 15 minutes for the next hour to hour and 15 mins, or until a meat thermometer is 160 degrees F (74 degrees C) when stuck into the thickest part of the chicken thigh. The chicken should be golden brown and the bread will be deeply caramelized on the side that is in contact with the pan.
- Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before serving with the bread in pieces. The temperature will rise while resting and the juices will be redistributed into the meat.
Time for different weights:
3 lbs: 1 hour
4 lbs: 1.5 hours
5 lbs: 1 hour 45 mins-2 hours
Remember to use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken's thigh, reaching 160 degrees F, at least (temperature will rise as it rests). This is the best way to ensure a fully cooked chicken.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 474Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 857mgSodium: 280mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 71g
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.