Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Alice Waters's roast chicken

Do you have a favorite technique for roast chicken? I've tried making it a few different ways, experimenting with stuffing various herbs and seasonings under the skin and in the cavity, trying out different roasting temperatures, trying organic vs. conventional, etc. This time I used Alice Waters's method from The Art of Simple Food, which I have been wanting to try for a while. There were two main differences from the methods I've tried in the past - first, you season the chicken with salt and pepper a day or two before cooking. This is similar in principle to brining - helps keep the meat moist and flavorful. Second, you turn the chicken twice during cooking to help it brown evenly on all sides.  The chicken came out great - the skin was nicely cooked and the meat had great flavor. This will probably be my go-to roast chicken recipe from now on.

Alice Waters's roast chicken
Adapted from The Art of Simple Food

1 chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

One or two days in advance of cooking, remove giblets from cavity, and trim excess fat pads from chicken. Rub chicken all over, inside and out, with 1 1/2 tsp salt and a scant 1/4 tsp of pepper. Loosely wrap and refrigerate chicken for one or two days.

One hour before cooking, remove chicken from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 deg F. After chicken has been out of the refrigerator for an hour, rub the outside with 1 tbs oil and place chicken in a rack on a roasting pan, breast side up. Tuck wing tips under thighs to keep them from burning. Roast for 20 minutes, then turn chicken breast side down. Roast another 20 minutes, then turn chicken breast side up again. Roast until fully cooked, another 10-20 minutes - when done, the skin should be separating from the meat, you should be able to wiggle the leg freely, juices should run clear, and a thermometer inserted into the leg (not too near the bone) should register 165 deg F. Let chicken rest 10-15 minutes before carving.

*Alice Waters strongly recommends using an organic, free-range chicken. I'm not 100% convinced that it needs to be certified organic, but I really do agree with her that free-range, grain-fed chicken (from a local farm, in my case) is tastier than supermarket chicken. Definitely more expensive though.

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