A Brit, a Yank and a Kitchen

Sunday, November 12

UBER Roast Chicken

So I found this retardedly easy recipe for a roast chicken over at epicurious.... so easy looking, it couldnt POSSIBLY come out right.. unless all stars were in alignment and I had all the Gods favor. Except.. the reviews were all raves... and... this was a recipe by Thomas Keller. With his name attached to it.. how could it not be good?? But how HOW could it possibly be so simple!?

Seriously... three ingredients, an oven and a sautee pan.. and NO basting. I'd never DREAMED of roasting a chicken in anything but a roaster, with a rack.. and lots of basting with gobs of butter. I thought to myself... this chicken must come out super dry.... or burnt... or it will explode in my oven splattering fat and make a huge smokey mess. None of the above.

I cranked my oven to 450...trussed my bird as directed... plopped it on my ungreased sautee pan (wouldnt it stick!?!?)... sprinkled some salt and pepper over top.. and stuck the thing in the oven, just like that.. stressing that I must have missed some essential step. I kept creeping over to the oven to peer in the window at it... waiting to see smoke wafting off.. or horrible uneven cooking... I resisted busting out the butter to baste. But I watched in fascination as the skin started to crinkle... and turn a beautiful gold.... could it really be as good as it was looking???

O-M-G YES. I had to resist the animal like urge to down the whole thing right there on the cutting board... I had to be a good girl and share with Dave...... but it was MINE! MY PRECIOUS.. oh wait... thats something else.... ehhemmm.... It was at least a struggle not the want to tear all the crispy skin off, it was heaven. The meat just oozed juices (as you can see from the pond of juice the other half of the bird is sitting in in this photo)

It was... by far.. simple the BEST roast chicken I've ever had. I couldnt even believe how simple it was, and that it actually worked. I am never doing chicken another way (at least whole).

Simple Roast Chicken
Thomas Keller


One 2- to 3-pound farm-raised chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)

Unsalted butter (optional)
Dijon mustard (optional)

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

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it's a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.

Now, salt the chicken — I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it's cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone — I don't baste it, I don't add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don't want. Roast it until it's done, 50 to 60 minutes (rotating every 15 mins). Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I'm cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip — until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook's rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be superelegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You'll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it's so good.


Blogger mooncrazy said...

Wing is my favorite part then the oyster. I fear for people who never cook a whole chicken.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

This chicken was SOOOOO delicious!

It's hard to believe that simple rubbing it in salt would offer so much flavor.

I'm looking forward to the leftover today for lunch. Mmmmmm.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Lea said...

lol hate to break it to you Dave, that wasnt leftover chicken I packed you for lunch today! lol >_< We're having the other half of the bird for dinner!

9:07 AM  
Anonymous greg gibson said...

ha ha... I laugh when Dave says at some point through the day, "Hmm, let's see what Lea's packed me for lunch."

How sweet....

10:00 AM  
Anonymous greg gibson said...

ha ha... I laugh when Dave says at some point through the day, "Hmm, let's see what Lea's packed me for lunch."

How sweet....

10:00 AM  
Blogger Marina said...

wow who knew roasting a chicken wouldn't turn into some super-complex/rocket scientist type endeavor??? thank you so much for sharing - I've been wanting to do a roast chicken for dinner, but feared I would end up tethered to the oven, basting like a madwoman, for hours on end... looks positively DE-LISH! :)

10:35 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Isn't it great to find those "magic" recipes that are super simple and still really good? I had the opposite roast chicken experience with Julia Child. Like in the Julie/Julia project, I tried Child's picky recipe and the chicken came out less well than my normal recipe.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Ros said...

I can't quite believe it... just salt and pepper? No bacon? No lemon stuffing? Ok, I have to try this.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Lea said...

Dead serious Ros!!

I did cheat and add 1 sliced lemon into the cavity, but honestly.. I think that it made the thighs and oysters a bit too lemony... Besides that.. yes... ONLY salt and pepper. No basting!!!

If you do let me know how it turns out!! =)

12:25 PM  
Blogger The Glitterati said...

Hi Lea,

I came across your blog while looking for one thing or another, but I just had to try this roast chicken recipe. The grocery store was having a sale on chicken quarters, and though I've never roasted chicken legs before, they turned out wonderfully this way! The skin was crisp, the chicken juicy... yum! I cooked 2 legs at 400 for 35 mins, as our oven runs a little bit hot, and it was a tiny bit fatty (I think the fat drains better from a whole chicken), but who am I kidding? Fat tastes good!

Anyway, just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for posting this! Your blog is an inspiration!

11:53 PM  

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