Happy weekend, everyone!
Last night, as promised, I tried roasting a chicken. This was the first time I have roasted a chicken without help. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve roasted a chicken period (cornish hens don’t count!). Despite my oven’s unreliability and temperature inconsistency, I think the chicken came out fine in the end. I did not commit the ultimate sin by drying the bird out, which is something I was afraid of doing. There are several things I would do differently regarding my own technique, but this recipe is genuinely foolproof. If you have a good oven, or even if you don’t, this is going to work out. Here is Anthony Bourdain’s recipe for poulet roti from his Les Halles Cookbook:
1 whole chicken, about 4 lbs (1.8 kg), giblets reserved
Salt (preferably sea salt) and freshly crushed black pepper
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 sprig of fresh thyme
2 tbsp (28 g) herb butter*
3 tbsp (42 g) butter, softened
1 1/2 cup (340 ml) white wine
A little chopped flat parsley
*for the herb butter, just take about 1 TBSP basil (finely chopped), 1 TBSP parsley (finely chopped), 1/2 TBSP thyme (finely chopped), 1/2 TBSP rosemary (finely chopped) and add it to 1/2 cup softened butter. Add 1/2 tsp honey (that is what Bourdain’s recipe calls for, but you can omit it if you want), a pinch of salt, a pinch of finely ground white pepper and combine in a bowl with a wooden spoon. You can form it into a stick, wrap it in plastic wrap, and keep it in the fridge for future use.
Prep the chicken
- Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Cut off the wing tips, leaving the last joint only. With fingers, remove excess fat from the chicken’s inside cavity. Trim off excess skin at the neck. Remove the giblets packet. Wash the inside of the chicken thoroughly with cold running water. Allow to dry. Season the inside cavity with salt and pepper.
- Take a paring knife and just below the end of the chicken’s legs, poke a small hole on each side, and tuck the leg carefully inside. Now gently – and generously – rub the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Put the lemon half, half of the onion, the rosemary, and the thyme inside the chicken cavity.
- Carefully taking hold of the edge of the skin on each side of the chicken, lift the skin and gently push a tablespoon of herb butter underneath, prodding it along so that one lump of herb butter sits on each side of the bird’s breastbone. Rub the outside of the chicken with about half of the plain (softened) butter.
Cook the chicken
- Remove the giblets from the bag and place them and the remaining half of the onion in the center of the roasting pan. Place the chicken on top of same. Pour 1/2 cup (110ml) of white wine into the pan and roast for 30 minutes, basting occasionally with the fat and butter that collects. Move the pan around your oven to avoid uneven cooking.
- After 30 minutes, increase the oven temperature up to 450F (230C) and cook for another 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
- Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over high heat. Stir in the remaining wine and scape the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon to dislodge the fond (the brown bits). Bring the wine to a boil and cook until it’s reduced by half. Discard the giblets and onion and whisk in the remaining softened butter. Stir in the parsley, season with salt and pepper, and serve alongside the chicken in a boat or gooseneck.
Foolproof, yeah? I think so, too.
Here is what my bird ended up looking like the first time I took it out of the oven. Despite poking the fat part of the thigh and seeing clear juice, it was still undercooked in some areas. I didn’t take pictures of the final product because at that point, I was ravenous. As you can see, I did not cut the wing tips off (I personally love that part of the bird when it gets crunchy). I also did a few other things differently. I used less herb butter than he recommends, and I did not rub the chicken down with soft butter. I put olive oil on the skin, instead. I have nothing against butter, trust me. I just didn’t want to use THAT much.
I also did not have white wine for the sauce, so I used balsamic vinegar. I’m a huge fan of balsamic vinegar, and although most would argue it is overused, I see no problem with using it as often as you want. It turned out to be a really, really good sauce. I would probably add shallots to it in the future.
As you can sort of tell from the picture, I made some garlic purple potatoes to accompany the bird. They turned out quite nicely. I want to try mashing them at some point, I think it would look so cool.
Although I am a little dismayed at my first roasting experience, it could have been worse. Nothing burned to an unrecognizable crisp, and in the end, it was moist, fragrant, really flavorful and worth the challenges. I have so much left over, I think I may end up substituting some of it for the lamb in tonight’s recipe, Khoresh Karafs. I know, grossly untraditional, but I need to get rid of some of these leftovers!
Also today, I’m going to attempt to make my own chicken stock. Due to VERY limited space, I’m only going to be able to make enough for probably two dishes.