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.
- 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.
- 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.
- When the chicken is done remove and allow to rest on a plate.
- 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.
- Carve the chicken on a serving platter and serve.
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.
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.