Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken
No, Thomas Keller did not come to my commissary to cook a chicken (he would be outrageously expensive to hire, although that's not really deterring me from asking for that as one of my Xmas presents). I simply used his recipe, which happened to be documented (along with a gourmet BLT, bistro-style skirt steak, rack of lamb, and pork & beans) in a recent Men's Journal article featuring 5 of Thomas Keller's go-to dishes (TK Roast Chicken Recipe). Those of you who are regular readers are probably aware that I'm always looking for a very good, very simple, reasonably healthy prep for chicken. Thus far, most of them I've tried are a little too vanilla, with the tastiest one being a Gordon Hammersley recipe that involves butterflying the bird and stuffing discs of cold herbed butter under the skin before cooking (this turned out to be delicious, but sadly, not so healthy for obvious reasons). Oddly, I can't seem to find a blog posting on it, so apparently, I'll have to make it again.
Anyway, I believe that we've found our new house roast chicken recipe. Before I tried it, I had heard rumors about how good TK's chicken is at French Laundry and how he espouses simplicity in the preparation. The only wrinkle for an amateur like me was learning how to truss the bird - this just involves tying it up around the wings and legs with string to make a compact package for roasting (see above). Other little details included drying the bird with paper towels inside the cavity and out (dry skin helps improve the browning), covering it with a healthy dose of kosher salt, and no basting until it leaves the oven. You cook it at 450F, which is pretty hot for a chicken (most of my other recipes are in the 350-375F range), resulting in a lot of splattered, vaporized chicken fat as it renders out (you'll need to keep the EasyOff handy for oven cleanup later). Once finished, though, simply mix in some thyme with the juices (i.e., fat) in the bottom of the roasting pan, do some basting, and after 15 minutes, it's ready to go. Damn. Mighty simple and mighty tasty, from Day 1 all the way through Day 6 when I'm down to scraps for homemade chicken salad.....