Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm Going to Teach You How to Roast a Perfect Chicken...

...start with the Thomas Keller recipe-don't freak out. Just because he's one of the top chefs in the world, doesn't mean this is going to be hard. Actually, all you really need to roast the bird is some kitchen twine, which you should always have around anyway, right? Tying up the bird, actually bringing the wings and legs in tightly against the breast, increasing the likelihood that the breast will stay moist. As Keller says, "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."

Make sure you wash the bird inside and out, and dry it thoroughly. The idea is to avoid steaming the bird, so there'll be no basting. Now put the bird in an oven pan (you can use a rack in the pan if you like), and sprinkle a tablespoon or two of kosher salt on it. That's it. When the skin gets crispy, the salt will also make it crunchy. Kosher salt is also always good to have on hand. Now stick it in a 450 oven for 55 minutes. We're talking about a 3 pounder. After it's done, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, and pour some of the pan juices on it if you like. I prefer to make a giblet stock and combine the pan juices with some mushrooms I've cooked in red wine. Then the red wine sauce will go with the red wine I'm drinking, and everyone's happy. A cheap and satisfying meal for two, with possible leftovers. Buy a decent wine, and if you can afford it, a decent chicken. If you start with a good bird, it really doesn't need any adornment. Just salt. And wine.
I added this photo because it reminded me that, not unlike in Keller's family, there was often a battle over the chicken butt, or what we called the pupick, which actually means belly-button. And like him, now I always eat it first. Of course there is no battle, though, as my constant companion is repulsed and horrified by this family tradition. It's sweet.

For Keller's full recipe, see http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/MY-FAVORITE-SIMPLE-ROAST-CHICKEN-231348