Posted By Daniel Duane On August 10, 2010 @ 2:51 pm In Features,Food & Drink
Juicy breast meat and crispy brown skin — those are the hallmarks of the perfect roast chicken. And Keller, who loves roast chicken so much he once placed it on a hypothetical menu for his own last meal — along with a half-kilo of osetra caviar ($1,600) and a homemade quesadilla (50 cents) — delivers both in the single easiest roast chicken recipe ever, the one he makes at home.
“People love roast chicken; it makes them feel comfortable,” Keller tells me, setting a raw chicken on his cutting board. And then he shows me the critical techniques: getting the entire bird bone-dry before you cook, trussing it up tight, and positively coating it with salt.
2-1/2- to 3-lb chicken
1 tbsp chopped thyme
Use paper towels to dry the chicken inside and out.
This helps the skin to crisp.
Preheat oven to 450˚ and truss the chicken.
Leave the bird out for at least 30 minutes before cooking. A room-temperature chicken will cook more evenly throughout.
Salt generously, then place chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan. Set in the oven and leave alone — don’t baste it, don’t add butter. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle chopped thyme into the pan juices. Baste with the juices; let rest 15 minutes.
Remove twine, legs, and thighs. Cut the breast down the middle and serve each half on the bone, wings attached.
For roasted vegetable and bibb-lettuce salad recipes, go to mensjournal.com/chickensides.
Trussing the Chicken
Nothing makes a guy feel cooler in the kitchen than tying up a whole chicken with string — very butcher, very pro — turning the bird into a nice, tight package that cooks evenly. I’d been practicing the technique as outlined in Keller’s cookbook Bouchon for years, so I ask him if I might truss the bird myself. The moment I begin, he asks, “Is that how you understood my directions?”
He takes over, demonstrating a completely different technique from the one I thought I knew. Then Keller cuts me a new piece of string and I get the whole deal right, except the final slipknot. So he snips off the string, cuts me another length, and I flub the final knot, once again.
“Don’t be sorry; you’re going to get it,” he says kindly.
“It’s okay; details matter.”
And instead of growing impatient, Keller spends a full 18 minutes, and perhaps 30 feet of string, teaching me a simple knot.
With the breast up, drumsticks toward you, tuck the wings under the chicken. Center a 3-foot length of string on top of the neck end of the breast.
Bring string down, under, and around the outside of each wing. Draw strands toward you, along underside of each breast. Knot the string tight to plump.
Draw each strand around a leg bone, and pull the drumsticks together. Tie the string one more time — a bow works fine — to secure.
Salting: “Settle on a single brand of kosher salt — I recommend Diamond Crystal — and always salt by hand, developing an intuitive feel for the relationship between your palate and the amount of salt between your fingers. On your trussed chicken, breast side up, hold a big pinch of kosher salt 18 inches above, raining it evenly over the entire skin.”
This article first appeared in the August 2010 issue of Men’s Journal.
Article printed from Men's Journal: http://archive.mensjournal.com
URL to article: http://archive.mensjournal.com/roast-chicken
Copyright © 2009 Men's Journal. All rights reserved.