A Chef’s Techniques for Roasting a Whole Chicken

The Bird II

A couple of days ago I came across a video from a french chef demonstrating his techniques for creating the perfect roast chicken in his home oven.  I was intrigued and set out to follow his techniques along with a few of my own.  To add to the experiment I decided to try a “farm roaming” chicken from Whole Foods that came from Crystal Lake Farms in Arkansas.  Typically I buy the smallest bird possible from whatever the local grocer has to offer but I thought it might be interesting to consider both technique and quality of the bird this time around.  Another difference here from my usual routine for roasting chicken is that I have not included any herbs or spices; just salt, pepper, and garlic (one whole head broken down into individual cloves).    I thought the French Chef’s technique  would work well here with testing this “high-end” roaming chicken.  This would essentially insure that we would be tasting just the chicken with no interference of herbs or spices.

The Techniques:

  • Wash and dry the bird with paper towels and allow to sit and finish air drying before roasting. This will help insure a crispy skin. It also let’s the bird warm up to room temperature therefore cutting the cooking time by just a bit.
  • Add salt and ground pepper in the cavity of the bird.
  • Add about 3 Tbs. of butter to the cavity of the bird. This is important as it keeps the chicken moist while roasting. Rub the entire chicken with cooking oil.
  • Choose a roasting pan that is not much bigger than the bird and place the chicken it the pan on its side and place in a 375 degree oven for 15- 20 min. The smaller roasting pan makes this easier than a larger pan as it supports the chicken and keeps it from rolling over.

Ready To Roast

      • Repeat this step for the other side.
      • When both sides have finished roasting turn the chicken over on its back and add the garlic around the chicken and continue to roast for 40-45 minutes longer or until the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer.

The Garlic

 

    • When the chicken is done remove and allow to rest on a plate.

The Final Bird

    • For the sauce simply drain off any fat from the roasting juices collected in the pan and add a bit of water and the garlic and bring to a simmer to reduce. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over carved chicken.

The Sauce

    • Carve the chicken on a serving platter and serve.

The Carved Bird

Note: The first two steps are part of my normal routine. The rest of the steps listed are from the french chef.

My Results and thoughts of the “high-end” chicken:

No doubt these techniques produce a moist and succulent chicken.  It was plenty flavorful with the sauce and garlic.  I served it with grilled baby zucchini and a potato gratin which was delicious.
The Plated Bird

However, I am not sure that for the cost of the chicken, $4.29/Ib. that it really stood up to my expectations.  Normally as I explained earlier I choose the smallest chicken possible from Bell and Evans which is around $2.75/Ib. and for the most part I have been completely satisfied.  I am going to try these same techniques on the Bell and Evans chicken next time and see how it fares.

On another note, laying aside the quality of the bird, I missed the addition of herbs that I usually include in roasting a chicken.  In past roasts I have added whole lemons, onions, bunches of thyme, rosemary or  tarragon   to the cavity of the bird creating tremendous layering and complexity of flavors that for me the above version did not yield.

My thoughts on the chef’s techniques:

I believe the cooking techniques will be adopted into my roasting routine for chicken.  Admittedly I have had, on occasion, turned out a dry roast which is always frustrating.  What I liked about the sort of three step process of starting with the sides  and ending with the bird on its back is that it keeps you in touch with the roasting during the whole process therefore avoiding any over roasting and dried out chicken.

 

 

Crawfish Pie

 

crawfishpie final

Crawfish season is upon us here in Louisiana.  Mardi-Gras has come and gone with many crawfish boils prepared as part of the celebration.  But the real crawfish season is still in full swing.  I enjoy the boils but what I really like are the richer versions from etouffee to fried.  The crawfish pie here is a favorite and really offers the chance to serve the cajun crustaceans in both of my prefered ways: encased in a buttery pie crust pastry (the pie) and etouffee style over long grain rice using the leftover filling from the pies.  This recipe for crawfish pie is one I developed after reading and researching different methods of for the filling and uses my basic pie crust that I use for both sweet and savory dishes.  One somewhat radical departure from the normal pie, which is prepared essentially the same as a chicken pot pie, is that I have blind baked the crust and then filled them with the crawfish filling just before serving.  This makes it easier to control the thickness of the filling and also helps preserve the crispiness of the crust.  The pies could certainly be made in one large pie and baked with the filling enclosed and served family style.

 

Crawfish Pie Recipe

1 Ib. of Crawfish Tails

2 Celery Stalks with Leaves Attached Finely Diced

1 Bell Pepper (any color works) Finely Diced

1 Medium Onion Finely Diced

2 Green or Spring Onion Finely Diced

3 Tbs.  Butter

3 Tbs. Flour

Cajun Seasoning To Taste

3/4 Pint Half and Half

1/4 Cup Cream Sherry

Pastry Crust For  9″ Pie

Instructions:

      1.  While dicing all the vegetables melt 3 Tbs. of butter in a medium sauce pan and add 3 Tbs. of flour.  Whisk together and leave on medium heat checking from time to time.  When the bubbles reside and the butter flour mixture starts to brown slightly add the diced vegetables and cook them until all of the vegetables are coated with the flour and butter mixture and are tender.
      2. Once the vegetables are nice and tender set aside and divide the crawfish tails into equal 1/2 Ib. portions. Take one portion and place it in a food processor and process until finely minced. Do not over process.
      3. Turn up the heat of the vegetables and slowly add the Half and Half until the mixture is smooth and has thickened enough to coat the back of  a spoon.  If your mixture is too thick add more Half and Half.
      4. Add the minced crawfish tales and season with the Cajun seasoning and salt to taste.
      5. Add the cream sherry and mix thoroughly.  Add the final 1/2 Ib. of whole crawfish tales. Allow mixture to remain cooking on low heat while you prepare the individual pie crusts.
      6. Blind bake 2 to 4 pie crust shells in small pastry molds and cut out tops to fit the molds like lids once they are baked. You should have a flat lid (pastry top) for each shell you are baking.
      7. When the shells are baked and cool enough to remove from the mold plate them and fill them with the crawfish filling placing a lid on each one. More filling can be poured around each pie as desired.

Note: Any remaining crawfish filling can be served etouffee style over rice; garnish with additional chopped green onions!