Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thomas Keller's Simple Roast Chicken

Roast chicken is one of my favorite things to make for dinner. It's simple, easy, and oh so delicious. In my humble opinion, no other cooking technique keeps the chicken so moist and flavorful (possible exception: fried chicken). Plus, nothing is as minimally labor intensive as rinsing, drying, buttering, and salting a bird. That's it. End of story. What could be easier?

As much as I make roast chicken, however, I don't have one particular recipe that I return to again and again. Anxious to find the best combination of flavors, I've tried many different recipes. Idris's mother, Ilhan, slathers her chicken with butter before salting--delicious. I've also made roast chicken with just olive oil--also delicious. Other recipes have been less successful. Ina Garten's Engagement Chicken, for example? Way too lemony! (And that's coming from an Iranian! If you didn't know, Iranians love all things sour.)

In my several years in the blogosphere, I've stumbled upon Thomas Keller's simple recipe for roast chicken many times, but I've always been a little skeptical. No butter? No oil? Just salt, pepper, and thyme? It seemed too simple to be true. But then again, when was the last time a recipe from Thomas Keller let you down? As a side note, if you haven't tried his creamed corn, you need to make that a priority. 

Dear readers, while my skepticism may or may not have been warranted, I was happily wrong. This recipe produced the most crisp, flavorful chicken skin I have ever tasted. The chicken stayed moist and perfect on the inside, while the outside browned up beautifully. If you are a roast chicken lover like me and have not yet tried Thomas Keller's recipe, it's time to give it a whirl!

Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken Recipe
from Melanie Dunea's My Last Supper)
serves 2

1 2-3 lb farm-raised chicken
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp minced thyme (optional)
unsalted butter, to taste
dijon mustard, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. 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 are tied close to the body, and 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.

Next, salt the chicken with about 1 tbsp of salt - I like to rain the salt over the bird so it has a nice, uniform coating that will results in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin. 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 saute 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 for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the juices run clear. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if desired, 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 oyster, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded there, 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 reward.

Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each half. The preparation is not meat to be super elegant. 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 you'll finish with your fingers because it's so good.


Bed and Breakfast Brugge said...

Superb posting for Chicken recipes . that's good look and interesting this post. this is my favorite recipes . i like chicken

Anonymous said...

The pictures make it hard to resist!

debby emadian said...

Hello Sara my name is Debby. I'm English but my husband is Iranian. I've just discovered your lovely blog whilst I was googling a new Persian restaurant in London called Beheshte Barin. I came across your post about your visit to London a couple of years ago.

I try to make Persian food whenever I can, having learnt from my mother-in-law and friends and relatives who visit. So it's great to find your blog...I'll be trying out lots of your recipes.

I really love your blog and the mixture of cuisines.

I hope you don't mind I mentioned finding yours and have put a link over on my blog.

Take care,

Sara said...

Hi Debby!

Thank you for your sweet comment! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog.

<3 Sara

Anonymous said...

Sara, I was "chicken" for a while, but finally decided to try this recipe one night, and it. did not. disappoint!!!!! It was reeeeeaaaally really good! Thanks for sharing. :)


P.S. I have been anxiously awaiting new posts with Turkish foods!!

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Anonymous said...

I have learned to splaycock the chicken for the ultimate roasted chicken. The recipe I love comes from Americas Test Kitchen called Italian Chicken. 8-10 cloves of chopped garlic and the grated rind from 2 lemons are poached in olive oil. Chopped tosemary, thyme and black pepper are added for a minute or so then strained out. The herb mixture is put under the skin and a bit of the herb oil is rubbed on the skin. I salt and pepper the skin then bake on a rack over a sheetpan for 45 min or so on 350/375 F. I put homemade chicken stock in the bottom of the pan the ladt 20 min or so to delaze. Strain off the dripping and remove fat. I thicken with a bit of white wine and cornstarch and serve on the side. THE BEST ROAST CHICKEN and one of my favorite meals.

Anonymous said...

This recipe ruined my oven. Chicken fat coated the inside of my oven. Smoke filled my house. How does anyone do this successfully?