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Simple Roast Chicken

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… 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).

roast chicken - raw

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.

roast chicken - done

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



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What I’ve been cooking…

Sorry for the unexpectedly long hiatus!  I’m working on a new post now.  Until then, here are a few photos of what I’ve been whipping up in the kitchen…

Cumin-crusted salmon with citrus butter and chive mashed potatoes…

cumin salmon

Heirloom tomoato, basil, mozzarella salad….

tomato salad

Basil ice cream…

basil ice cream

See you soon….


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I’m back…..

Hi! Sorry for the recent hiatus. Writing a Ph.D. thesis has a way of sucking up all of your time. Now that I’m officially Dr. King I will be able to begin writing new blog posts again! To celebrate my accomplishment, I hosted a party this saturday for a group of friends and coworkers with a latin/caribbean theme. I served a huge pitcher of mojtos (the only really important part) pork arepas with pickled onion, shrimp ceviche, mango salsa, and roasted plantains.  Sorry for the lack of pictures!!

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This article from the New York times is so good I had to pass it along. It addresses something that we all take for granted in baking – butter. Apparently, many of the most common baking problems we encounter are caused by mishandling butter. I could say more, but just read the article 🙂

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What is Travie eating?

– Sausage, Potatoes, and Garlic (recipe to follow soon)

Brussels sprouts

Braised artichokes

– Homemade ciabatta 

Not my best looking ciabatta ever, but it tastes good.

Not my best looking ciabatta ever, but it tastes good.

– Creamy scrambled eggs on said ciabatta

– Braised beef short ribs (this will be my next entry; check back later this week 🙂 )



– The yummy pate de ville at Carmon’s

– Veggie chili (I’ll post this one sometime too)

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Welcome to Chez Travie!

This will be my home on the internet to share many of my thoughts on food, drink, and to post accounts of my various (sometimes misguided) culinary exploits.  I should warn everyone up front that I have a background in science and find all the chemistry and biology that happens everyday in the kitchen to be fascinating (if too much biology happens in your kitchen, perhaps you shouldn’t tell your dinner guests).  However, I’ll try to restrain the overwhelming impulse to rhapsodize on subjects such as how the intimate dance of gliadins and gultenin in wheat flour allows tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide produced either chemically (e.g. baking powder) or biochemically (i.e. yeast) to be trapped in nascent baked goods, thus creating the final structure of the myriad baked goods we all enjoy.  *Whew*  Glad I got that out of my system….

Until I post my first ‘real’ entry (coming soon, I promise!) check out some of the links in my blogroll (don’t forget to come back here though).  These are some of my favorite (and arguably some of the best) food blogs around.  Carol over at ‘French Laundry at Home’ and the soon to commence ‘Alinea at Home’ has achieved a level of benevolent foodie insanity that I aspire to.  As an avid reader I’ve found her (and the authors of all the other blogs on the list) to be a constant source of entertainment and inspiration.  Hopefully I can add something of value to the amazing dialogue going on.  Until next time….


By the way, what is the verdict on the header graphic??  Beautiful work in progress and symbol of unrealized culinary potential or redolent of gastrointestinal distress due to salmonella poisoning?


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What Travie is eating…

  • Veggie chili & buttermilk cornbread
  • Omelette filled with Emmenthaler
  • Butternut squash and smoked Gouda pizza
  • Caramel nut tart from ‘Sunday Suppers at Lucques’
  • Homemade applesauce (made with fresh, local apples; yum!)


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