Friday, October 1, 2010

2010 Challenge: What are Ya, Chicken?

A chicken, properly trussed and keyed into the safe word, "Oklahoma"

Chicken, specifically roasted, has been on the brain for months. It all started back in March with Kevin Vizards's juicy, crisp poulet with shoestring potatoes. Then while reading Jeffrey Steingarten chronicle in painstaking detail his attempts at mastering roast chicken the envie heightened. Finally, Thanksgiving is coming, which means you have to practice roasting before the big day. Consider it Turkey Training Camp.

Now normally in the Louapre household, roast chicken is Lindsay's domain. She makes hands down the greatest contribution to the cookery scientific community with her butter rubbed roast chicken. Always perfectly moist, with a crisp skin, and well-seasoned meat, I have tried many times to best her, yet always fall short.

This last time, I followed a general outline from Thomas Keller's ad hoc cookbook. I got a beautiful 3 and a quarter pound bird from Coq Au Coin Farms chicken, trimmed the back fat (save this), and removed the wishbone with a few deft cuts from a pairing knife and a couple yanks. To get a papery, crackly crust Keller advises setting the chicken in the fridge overnight, uncovered to let it dry out. I can say without a doubt this produced an incredibly crisp skin. Which let's face it is 90% of the reason why you roast a chicken. The other 10%? The smell that it fills your house.

About an hour before you want to cook the bird, remove it from fridge, and season generously with salt and pepper. Stuff cavity with thyme and garlic then truss the chicken like a Senator at a bondage club. Let it sit at room temperature. Chop some aromatic vegetables, toss them in salt, pepper, and oil, and place in a pan, preferably a cast-iron skillet. Then make a nest and roast the bird at a high temp until cooked through.

Results? Best skin but less than ideal juiciness on the breast. I likely overcooked the bird because I cooked to time and not to temp. The lesson, once again, is Lindsay is in charge of roast chicken.


Shelly said...

I subscribe to the "moisture is the devil" theory of chicken roasting.
My go to technique is rinsing, then drying the chicken, then generously salting and peppering it. (I use Dean and Deluca truffle salt b/c I was given some for Christmas, but regular salt is fine too.) Then I put the chicken breast down in a cast iron skillet and bake it at 450 for an hour. I end up with a nice moist flesh and perfectly crisp skin.

Rene said...

The overnight or overwork fridging of the bird uncovered dries the skin out considerably. Also, in an unscientific study I noticed the skin was more taut than before it dried.

Anyone else care to chime in on their chicken roasting technique?

TJ said...

I live and die by the recipe in the Chez Panisse cookbook. Take a well dried chicken, sprinkle inside and out with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and crushed fennel seed. Put some thyme inside the bird. 400 degress for one hour. F-ing delicious.

jshushan said...

This is from Cooks Illustrated. I've used it a few times and it does work. It doesn't crisp the skin well but the meat is great.


A three-and-one-half-pound bird should roast in fifty-five to sixty minutes while a four- to four-and-one-half-pound bird requires sixty to sixty-five minutes. If using a V-rack, be sure to grease it so the chicken does not stick to it. If you don’t have a V-rack, set the bird on a regular rack and use balls of aluminum foil to keep the roasting chicken propped up on its side. If using a kosher chicken, skip the brining process and begin with step 2.

1/2 cup table salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds), giblets removed and reserved for another use, chicken rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
vegetable oil for brushing v-rack

1. Dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 quarts cold water in a large container. Submerge the chicken in the brine, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Place shallow roasting pan in oven and heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush chicken with butter and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

3. Remove heated pan from oven and set oiled V rack in it. Place chicken on rack, wing side up. Roast 20 minutes, then rotate chicken, other wing side up. Roast 20 minutes, then rotate chicken, breast side up. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted in breast registers 160 and in thigh registers between 165 and 170, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to cutting board; let rest 20 minutes. Carve and serve.

Fleurdelicious said...

I really like Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Chicken recipe. The thyme, garlic, lemon, and melted butter not only flavor the bird, but make it unbelievably juicy.

Fleurdelicious said...

I really like Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Chicken recipe. The thyme, garlic, lemon, and melted butter not only flavor the bird, but make it unbelievably juicy.