Monday, January 7, 2013

TK's Recipe of the Week: I have cracked the secret of roast chicken

Roast chicken is one of those things that famous chefs always say is their favorite thing to make and it's oh so easy and whatever and I'll admit there are a million ways to make a really average roast chicken but getting it perfect is really hard.  I mean, I'm sure Thomas Keller can crank out a solid bird at home, but what about all us dumb people?  Everybody has a different way.  400 degrees?  425?  Breast side up or down?  What do you stick up in there?  The best way is probably the Showtime Rotisserie but I probably think that just because I spent many a hungover Sunday morning watching the oddly hypnotic infomercial, a sample of which is below.

So after a lot of trial and error, I think I have finally stumbled across the perfect combination of recipes. I made this last night and it turned out great - perfectly crisp skin and totally moist inside, even the breasts. This is a combination of recipes from Celebrity Chefs Jamie Oliver and Alice Waters. Thanks, guys!

FIRST, a word about chickens. OF COURSE you only buy Organic Free-range Vegetable-Fed Chickens Who Had a Name and Friends and Outside Interests Prior to their Early but Natural Death, but if you occasionally pick up a Factory Bird from Safewizzle, don't sweat it.

WHAT YOU MUST DO is take that chicken out of the fridge at least and hour before cooking it so it comes up somewhere close to room temp. If you put a cold chick in the oven, it's not gonna cook evenly. OK, let's get started.

1 chicken, duh, around 4 pounds,  at room temp
1 lemon, halved
Salt and pepp
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
Any kind of herbs you like, like rosemary and thyme and whatever else
Some fingerling potatoes or new potatoes

Preheat to 425.

Wash the chicken inside and out.  Take the giblets out and feed them to your dog or whatever.  I guess some people eat chicken hearts and kidneys but not me.  Pat the chicken dry.  Salt and pepper on the inside.  Cut the lemon in half and put half inside the chicken.  At this point, if you want to put some herbs under the skin, be my guest.  That's usually too much hassle for me.  Tie the legs together with cooking twine and put it in a lightly oiled roasting pan, BREAST SIDE UP.  Arrange the potatoes around the chicken in the pan.

In a saucepan, melt the butter with the oil over low heat.  Squueze the other half of the lemon into it. When it's all melted, brush that mixture over the chicken.  The salt and pepper the chicken liberally.

Put it in the oven.  Cook for 20 MINUTES, breast side up.  Something like this:

ACK!  I just realized I didn't tie the legs together in this one.  Don't do that.  Also, I'm sorry this looks like something out of a "Saw" movie.

OK, here's where it gets a little tricky.  After 20 minutes, pull it out.  Wad up some paper towels and use those to grab it on each side, then flip it over so it's breast-side down and looks a little like it's looking for something it lost in the bottom of the pan.  Use a brush and baste this side with the oil/butter mixture in the pan.  Now salt and pepper this side.  Wouldn't hurt to brush the potatoes too.  Back into the oven.

Now we go 20 MINUTES, breast side DOWN.  This circulates the juices or something, I don't know.  I just know it works.

OK, after 20 minutes, pull it out and FLIP IT BACK OVER AGAIN.  Now it's breast side up again.  That's the last time you have to flip it.  Baste it again.

Now go take it easy for a while.  It usually takes about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, total, from the time you first put it in, so about another 40 minutes from this point.  After 1:15, pull it out and check it.  Although there are all kinds of ways to tell if it's done - if the legs move freely, if the skin on the drumstick has started to separate - the best way is to use a meat thermometer.  Stick it in the thickest part of the thigh.  It should be 175 degrees.  When you see that, it's done.

I KNOW YOU'RE HUNGRY BUT HOLD THE FUCK ON.  We're not there yet.  You need to tent it with foil and let it sit for 10 minutes.  This does something about redistributing the juices.  I don't know what, but it works.  Cut that thing up and enjoy.  Best roast chicken you'll ever have, I promise.

(Well, at home, I mean.  I wouldn't put this up against Nopa's or anything.  But the amount of butter they use in restaurants would make you go pale as a ghost if you knew.)

(If you don't know how to carve a chicken, here is an excellent tutorial.)


Greg said...

We use the showtime rotissierie for Thanksgiving turkey and it comes out perfect every time. We also use it for prime rib. also perfect every time.

periqueblend said...

Wow that's complicated. Just put butter under the skin by the breasts. 20 minutes at 425, remove and rest. Cover the breast w/foil, 350 for 20min/per pound. When the leg disarticulates easily you're done.

Ideally you brined it for 24hrs the days before.

TK said...

Greg -

I suspected those things did a good job, no joke. I've heard good reviews from others.

Periqueblend -

I kinda figured the comment thread here would turn into "Better ways to roast chicken," and I WELCOME EVERYONE'S INPUT.

I LOL'd at "Ideally you brined it...", but I'm not sure why.

ourswimmer said...

What you really want, seeing as how you have a back yard and all (right?), is a Weber kettle with the rotisserie attachment. It makes a great fowl: chicken, duck, or even super-leggy heritage turkey. It's the best way to roast a duck because when the duck fat catches on fire it is out in your yard instead of in your kitchen.

Also, 175F is a very hot chicken, IMO.

Andrea said...

I have (and use) the Thomas Keller recipe. It's remarkably simple and amazingly delicious.
You just put it in the oven, breast side up and roast. No butter, no oil, no herbs, no salt and pepper, no nothing. Then when it's about 15 minutes from being done you add whatever herbs or flavor you like.
Let it rest for a few minutes just like in your recipe.

You forgot the most important part of the recipe, though: The Reward!

Cut the triangle piece off - the tail or the butt piece and eat that. It's the best part of the chicken. You cooked it. You deserve it. You get to eat it.

R said...

I"m a big fan of 2 hours (no matter the size) in a low oven (350). Somehow it comes out moist AND crispy, and I haven't done anything. Including trussing. I'm also a big fan of eating the chicken skin directly off the bird, which is vaguely disgusting but insanely delicious.