Thursday, February 14, 2008

I am not an orangutan...

At least not according to Bourdain, which is high praise indeed. In the Les Halles cookbook, he espouses that "95% of roast chickens are the result of insensitive and murderous overcooking by food hating orangutans". He does have a writing style all his own, which is why his show is top rated (Food Network eat your heart out).

I like to roast a chicken at least once a month. It makes the house smell nice, it creates awesome leftovers, and gives me a carcass for stock making. Right now I have about 2 quarts of chicken stock and 2 quarts of beef stock in the beer fridge freezer, but more on that later.

Bourdain's method is simple, I use it interchangeably with the one from Hamersley's book. Rinse, season & add 1/2 a lemon & 1/2 an onion along with some herbs to the cavity, truss (it takes practice and I am getting better as you can see... sometimes I don't bother though) and pop some softened herb butter under the skin. Rub the outside with some plain butter too. Real butter of course! He puts this all on top of the giblets and the other 1/2 onion as a "rack" with some wine in the pan. Roast in a 375 oven about 30 mins, then crank to 450 for another 30 or so until the liquid out of the thigh runs clear. Let it rest 15 mins, then carve. Oh, and make a nice pan sauce out of that fond with some more wine and maybe some dark chicken stock or veal stock, finished with (yes of course) more butter.

Isn't that lovely?? Yes, I know I didn't cut the wing tips off that time. But now I do! I save them for stock in a ziploc in the freezer. Making hot wings from whole wings adds to this collection too.

Hamersley's version uses an olive oil/herb/lemon juice/mustard rub, roasted in the pan with some potatoes and onions (or I use shallots too). It is lovely as well but doesn't generate a pan sauce. Potatoes and onions cooked in the chicken fat & juices however are a huge bonus.

And something new I discovered through this month's article: To assist in the crispiness of the crust, let the salted chicken dry out in the fridge for a while before applying main seasoning & cooking, also cut some tiny slits in the backbone to let the excess fat drain out.

One last note, Michael Ruhlman has a great post on his blog this week about compound butters, so don't even think about using the "compound butter bar" at Whole Paycheck!!!

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