Pimentón Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

This is what I made for Thanksgiving dinner. It was one of the best recipes I discovered this year, and it seemed perfect for the holiday. I think it would be equally perfect for a Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Years celebrations. Consider it my gift to you, dear reader. The gift of a perfectly roasted paprika and garlic rubbed chicken that cooks on a bed of potato wedges that benefit from chicken fat and high temperatures. When it is done, you have chicken and potatoes and only need a hearty green salad to accompany them. You also have an astonishingly simple and delicious meal. Honestly, this is about as good as it gets. I’ve made this recipe twice already and am giving it another go this weekend. Consider me obsessed.

The secrets of this recipe are in the details, so make substitutions at your own risk. I think Yukon Golds were made for this recipe, and I love them roasted more than people say I should. It is a pain to track down two kinds of paprika- but since you will likely want to make this again it is worth the effort. I think the chicken should sit overnight in the fridge to really develop flavor, but 5 or 6 hours will do in a pinch. On my second go around, I increased the potato quantities because they are just so, so good. I suggest you do the same by including an extra potato or two.

Unrelated: Some of you noticed already, but I have been writing an occasional column for Saveur on cookbooks. You know how much I love cookbooks, so it is a real treat to have a forum for discussing some older, stranger and out-of-print titles. I hope you’ll visit me over at Saveur and check out great books like Lee Bailey’s Country Weekends and the French Farm House Cookbook.

Pimentón Roast Chicken and Potatoes (adapted from David Tanis via Bon Appetit)

For chickens:

  • 8 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
  • 2 3 1/2–4-pound whole chickens
  • 2 large bunches fresh thyme

For potatoes:

  • 2-3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • Smoked paprika (for dusting)

Rinse and VERY thoroughly dry chickens. Mix garlic, salt, oil, and both paprikas in a small bowl; mix to blend well. Using your hands, smear paste all over outside of chickens, rubbing to coat the skin. It will be clumpy, don’t worry. Place 1 bunch of thyme inside the cavity of each bird. Chill, uncovered, for at least 6 hours or overnight (for more flavor).

Let chickens stand at room temperature for 1 hour. If paste has clumped, rub to evenly distribute. Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then lengthwise into 4 thick wedges (steak-fry style). Place in a large bowl; season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle in oil and, using your hands, toss well to coat. Spread potatoes in a single layer in a large roasting pan or on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 500°F. Place chickens side by side atop potatoes in roasting pan.

Roast chickens and potatoes for 30 minutes. Remove from oven; turn potatoes, rearranging chickens if needed. Reduce oven heat to 425°F. Continue roasting chickens and potatoes until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thighs registers 165° F, 20-35 minutes longer. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving chicken. Keep potatoes warm in oven until chicken is carved and ready to be served.

Transfer potatoes to 1–2 platters; sprinkle with parsley and scallions. Arrange chickens on top of potatoes. Dust lightly with smoked paprika.

Serves: 8

***I trussed the chicken in these photos, which was my first attempt. I don’t think these should be trussed, I think it slowed down the cooking. Don’t bother.

***The skin charred a little both times I made this, but the chickens remained really moist and flavorful. So, no worries- and I liked the dark skin.If your skin starts to get too black for your own taste, you can cover it loosely with foil.

***If the potatoes are getting too dark (you want them a little dark, those are my favorite parts), you can transfer the chickens to their own pan to finish cooking them.

71 comments to “Pimentón Roasted Chicken and Potatoes”

  1. Hi there…just wondered if you could explain why the chickens need to sit out at room temperature for an hour. Do you think it would make a difference if you skipped this?

  2. Hi Christine- It would definitely make a difference. You want the chicken to cook in the shortest time possible, so it stays moist. By starting with a room-temperature chicken, you save on cooking time. I actually (accidentally) tried this both ways and it was better after having sat out at room temperature. I would not skip this step.

  3. I just found your website and I’m already a huge fan. I just made this chicken and it was amazing. Seriously, we’re currently blissed out on the couch, stuffed full of chicken and potatoes. It was my first roast chicken so I was a little nervous, but I had nothing to worry about! Thanks so much!

  4. I made this last night and it was AMAZING. It was the first time I’ve ever roasted a whole chicken and it couldn’t have gone any better.

    Thanks so much for posting the recipe. xx

  5. Yay! Glad it was a success, Kristen!

  6. Tim, thanks for introducing me to this cookware. I am now the proud owner of a bake set (in red, to match my Le Creuset!) and can’t wait to cook in it. Perhaps this dish makes for the perfect test-drive and review post!

  7. Yosef- it is the best! I am glad you got some. It bakes SO well. I think you’ll love it.

  8. Delicious! I used dried thyme in the rub because I didn’t have fresh. I also added carrots, onions and parsnips to the potatoes. I plan to make tortilla soup with the stock I am making from the carcass- the smoked paprika will add such a yummy flavor to it!

  9. Hi Tim. I usually roast chicken over potatoes and love how they fry in the chicken fat, but the skin at the chicken’s backside never crisps and looks soggy unless i flip it and roast it breast side down for about 15min. Im planning on making this recipe for the weekend and wondering if there is a need to flip the chicken to crisp the back?

  10. Hi Dana- Uhhh….I dunno? I obviously didn’t feel a need, but maybe you would? I also don’t feel any need to get all of the skin crispy? Let us know how it turns out!

  11. So good! Made this for Sunday dinner for Mom-in-law, with salad and rose’. We ate every bit – thank you!

  12. Charlotte says:

    June 11th, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I am exited to try this, it is very similar to a favourite meal in my family, although we do a combination of potato wedges, and thick slices of carrots. Even better than the potatoes are the perfectly, crispy, caramelised carrots that cook in the chicken fat. From a French household, caramelised carrots are a staple and necessity in any comforting, traditional meal, and these are definitely the best.

  13. I’m dying to make this, but I’ve only got regular paprika, hungarian sweet paprika and smoked paprika. Which should I use, and to what ratio? Please help!

  14. Hey Kate,
    I would try some combination of regular/sweet and smoked, and then add some cayenne for extra heat. I have never done this, so you’ll have to experiment.

  15. Raymond Hames says:

    December 25th, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    My friend Alice gave me your link after I told her I bought some Smoked Sweet Spanish Paprika at the Spice House on North Wells. I tried it your recipe this evening and it was wonderful. It is paprika is truly powerful. I think I will cut back a little next time – which should be very soon. Thanks!

  16. This is my favourite roast chicken recipe! Always goes down a storm at dinner parties. :)

What do you think?