Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Simple Roast Chicken

Since the first time I made this recipe, I have been in love with roasted chicken. It's simple, delicious and quick. Oh, and delicious. The below is after the recipe from Thomas Keller's introduction to his Bouchon cookbook, which is beautiful and has great classic bistro recipes.

The most important thing is trussing the chicken: my theory is that the reason this recipe keeps the chicken so juicy is that closing off the cavity by trussing and salting the heck out of the skin essentially traps all the juices in the chicken, so it sort of steams itself from the inside out.

1 3-4 pound chicken
kosher salt
fresh herbs (if desired)

cotton string (yarn is fine, or kitchen twine)
a high-walled ceramic or glass dish (3 inches or so - I think mine is technically a casserole)

Preheat the oven to 425.

Rinse the chicken and dry it thoroughly with paper towels both inside and out, then season the cavity with salt & pepper. If using herbs, place them in the cavity. Don't stuff with chicken with anything too bulky (read: onions, lemons - though peel might be ok), or this will alter the cooking.

Truss the chicken: put it on a board or in the roasting dish with the cavity facing you. Stretch out & cut a piece of cotton string as long as your arms held out to either side. Find the center of the string and put it just behind and slightly under the butt of the chicken. On each side, bring the string down between the wings and the body and then back under the wings so both ends are coming out behind. Make a half knot and give a pull. Bringing both ends forward again, this time between the legs and the body, make a half knot just under the end of the breast bone at the top of the cavity. Give a pull here - the breasts should sort of puff up as it gets squeezed together. Now bring the drumstick ends one over the other just under the end of the breastbone too, with the ends of the string under them - bring the strings up around the drumstick ankles and tie them in place with a regular knot. Cut off the ends of the string and adjust the bird as necessary - the idea is to close off the cavity as much as possible, so you can even nudge up the bottom of the cavity opening a little if that works. Tuck the wing ends behind and under the bird.

Rain kosher salt over the top of the bird; you want a reasonably even, visible coating. Put the chicken in the middle of the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes (or until juices run clear, but they will).

Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for at for 15 minutes before carving and serving. This is important!! Resting helps the chicken gather up all juices from cooking - if you cut it right away it will be dry.

To hold: If you're not ready to serve, take the chicken out and reset the oven temperature to 200 (it's important to let the oven cool before putting the chicken back). Put the chicken (on a plate or in the roasting dish) back in the oven for up to 1 hour. I tried this randomly once and the chicken was still super juicy, and the skin didn't wilt.

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