Mis-Adventures in Roasting Chicken


I have a habit of making things harder than they need to be.
This is especially true when it comes to cooking/entertaining.

I think I've spoken in the past of how I tend to be pretty middle of the road when it comes to being a cook. Some I know are major "from scratch" cooks, and others are big shortcut people. I fall in between.

In an effort to better myself as a wife, cook and just generally well-rounded human being, it has been a goal of mine to learn how to perfectly roast a chicken. 

There's just something so romantic about a crisp, golden chicken. It's a simple, comforting meal.

I've been cooking often since I was 14 years old, am generally regarded to be one of the more confident cooks of my peer group, and have been a pretty adventurous cook thus far in my life.
Roast Chicken is just never something I've mastered.

We didn't really eat Roast Chicken growing up in my house----a rotisserie chicken from the store here or there, maybe, but my mom was more of a boneless skinless grilled chicken breast maker. So, Roast Chicken is sort of a new animal (no pun intended) for me.

When I started my quest to perfect the Roast Chicken, I did what I usually do with new recipes. I looked up a few, took what I liked, left what I didn't and gave it a shot.

All these stupid recipes say the same thing to tell when the chicken is done. Pierce the thigh and if the juices run clear, you're good.
Well, let me tell you, the juices were crystal clear, and the chicken was RAW in the middle. Which left me putting a cut OPEN chicken back in the oven for hours upon hours until it finally cooked all the way through. It was exhausting.

Here's another thing. We eat a lot of red meat. We both really prefer it. Under-cooking with red meat is preferred. With chicken, obviously it's a health hazard.

Poor Poor Brian. Every time he came home and I announced proudly that I was serving Roast Chicken for dinner he would give me this look like, "oh, roast chiiicken, so we'll be eating dinner sometime next week then."

I know what you're going to say. Just get a meat thermometer. Well, friends, as previously discussed, I make things harder than they need to be.

I probably tried to roast chicken maybe 4 times. I asked a friend's mom her recipe, tried different things on Pinterest, etc. Nothing yielded the results I was after---which really was moist moist chicken meat, and crispy, flavorful skin.

I had read on a few different blogs about Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken Recipe. And kind of initially blew it off. Why you ask? Ironically, because it seemed too easy.

Apparently, I live under a culinary rock, because he's like famous or something. He's the chef/restaurateur behind The French Laundry and Bouchon/Bouchon Bakery


Mr. Thomas Keller

I'm sure all of my foodie/Food Network super-fan friends/readers are rolling their eyes at me right now.

Sorry guys, as much as I love to cook, I've never been a big Food Network watcher. Nor do I pay much attention to celebrity chefs.
If you want to know something about the cast of The Beverly Hills Housewives, or who's on which HGTV show, then I can probably help you.

Anyway, back to the chicken. Thomas Keller's recipe is amazingly simple.
You can see it below, but let me give you the run down.

Essentially, you rinse and dry the chicken. You rain salt and pepper over it.
You bake it. In the oven. at 450. For like an hour. Depending on how big your chicken is.
THE END.

That's it. He said you could slather butter over it, I didn't. I did rub some dried Thyme on it when it came out of the oven.



Not my picture, but my actual chicken looked similarly golden and delicious.

And you guys. This chicken. OMG.

It was so friggin good.

I was astonished at the flavor it had, especially since I did none of the complicated crap all of these other recipes called for. You know, like stuff a rosemary bush and entire garlic bulb up it's butt.

Do yourself a favor and cook an easy, delicious yet impressive looking main course for your family/spouse/dinner party guests. 

Don't make life harder than it has to be.
I'm trying to learn that.
It may involve some sort of 12-step program.


Recipe below via Epicurious.

Reprinted from Epicurious, who Reprinted from Bouchon, by Thomas Keller, Copyright © 2004, published by Artisan.

INGREDIENTS

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

PREPARATION

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. 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.