Many times I feel that people making cooking much more complicated that it needs to be. Roast chicken is the perfect example of this phenomenon. A brief search of roast chicken recipes online and in my cookbooks gives a bewildering array of procedures and complications. I have seen procedures for turning, basting, trusing, shoving butter and herbs under the skin, a bewildering array of oven temperatures, etc. Frankly, most of them are worthless. The most sensible roast chicken recipe I have seen comes from (of all people) Thomas Keller in the Bouchon cookbook. Chicken, salt, pepper, roast. That is it. In my experience, good technique and a good chicken are what make a successful roast chicken, not complicated preparation. I do sometimes break my own rules and insert tasty things (lemons, onions, herbs) laying around my kitchen into the cavity before roasting.
While we are discussing chicken, I’m not sure I really understand the very unusual relationship people have with chicken. Perhaps one of you can explain it to me?? I have the impression that every evening, millions of people all over the country carefully don hazmat suits, unwrap packages of tasteless grocery store chicken as though an army of salmonella are preparing to leap out of the package and into the souls of their children, cook the chicken until it has the consistency of a rubber band, and then congratulate themselves that they have consumed something resembling a healthy meal. In my mental caricature they then proceed to hose down every surface in their home with industrial strength disinfectants and antibiotics as though they just handled a biohazard that in a sane universe would only be contained in a biosafety level 4 lab…
Caricatures aside, I have never understood this mentality. I can hardly imaging sitting down to eat a steaming plate of something I feared would kill me mere moments before.
On that happy note here are the details…
1) Start with a good chicken – grocery store chicken will taste like…..grocery store chicken. Free-range, organic chicken from your local farmer’s market will taste 1000x better. Use it. You can thank me later.
2) Preheat the oven to 450 C. Carefully dry the chicken inside and out, sprinkle the cavity and the skin liberally with salt and pepper.
3) (optional) Insert an onion, herbs, lemon, or any other tasty flavoring that you have into the cavity of the chicken. Throw some veggies under the chicken if you would like (potatoes, onions, carrots, fennel,etc. are all good choices).
4) Roast the chicken until it is done. Do not overcook the chicken. Do not overcook the chicken. Do not overcook the chicken. There are various guidelines for how to determine when the chicken is done available around the net. I am not going to recommend a specific temperature here. I will say that I prefer to err on the side of juicy chicken rather than government approved chicken leather. Don’t forget that the internal temperature of the chicken will continue to increase after it is removed from the oven, so let the chicken rest at least 10-15 minutes before carving.
Mmmmmm. Crispy skin, juicy meat, minimal effort…delicious!!
P.S. Sorry for the mediocre pictures this time around – the lighting was bad and I was too lazy to get out my tripod :)
Next time: Heirloom tomato salad