It takes a certain kind of bloody idiot to want to roast a chicken in 90F weather. It takes an even bigger idiot to think “wouldn’t it be great to roast three of them!!”
That’s me folks. Some of Danika’s family were coming over to dinner. One I would describe as a picky eater. The last time I cooked for them it seemed like almost everything that was on their plate was something they didn’t like. That was my bad – I didn’t ask before cooking (but in my defense, it wasn’t any freaky ingredients).
So originally I wanted to get my own back, and do a pig’s head. This is a recipe from the French Laundry cookbook that ends up as an amazing little roulade of pork – completely not identifiable as a pigs head at all. The thought of a picky eater eating pigs head amused me (yes, I have a sick sense of humor).
Alas it was not to be. The pigs head takes 3 days, and I didn’t have that long to prepare (let alone source a good quality pigs head). So I fell back. I fell back to something I was pretty sure everyone liked – something safe. Roast Chicken.
I am sure we have all eaten hundreds of these growing up – I know I did. It is still my favorite way to eat chicken. A simply seasoned, perfectly roasted chicken – all served with some amazing chicken au jus.
This really is a perfect thing to cook for a dinner party (a small one..) too – you just bung em in the oven and forget about them for an hour (well, almost). That way you aren’t tied to the kitchen so you can enjoy company.
Since it was so ridiculously sodding hot out I decided to serve this just with a simple fennel and onion confit, and an amazing butter lettuce salad – both actually courtesy of the Bouchon cookbook. The recipes for both of these I am afraid I am not going to post here. Why? Because I am being an arse – this is quite simply a cookbook everyone should own. It will honestly make you a better cook – it has me.
I wanted to focus this blog post on my way of roasting chicken. Everyone has their own special way, and this is mine. It also turns out to be so ridiculously simple it is crazy. That helps, that really helps on such hot days and with company coming over.
So I am doing this post in two parts – The first part is via video!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Something I never thought I would do on my blog, but I figured this was the best way to show the technique of trussing a chicken.
The second part is the recipe, and how I go about roasting a chicken.
OK – DRUM ROLL.. THE VIDEO!!!!!
It is crap. There, that should get people watching it. This video shows three things – firstly how to truss a chicken for roasting, and secondly how bad I am on camera, and how even more shocking I am at editing.
I should have watched the thing straight after recording it, and retaken some of it. So yes – I ramble a bit. My hands get in the way in parts. I talk about finding a proper cage free, local chicken way too much (something I am really passionate about). But, that is me. I am a little akward. So break out the popcorn and a beer, and have a good old laugh. That’s what I did watching this (without the popcorn, I hate the stuff).
All I can say is that things will improve the more of these I do!!! I honestly want to hear all feedback about these videos – good and bad (I can take it..) – They are kind fun, but as anyone that has tried doing video blog entries knows – they are time consuming. So, let me know if they should continue!
I also promised a chicken impression. It isn’t on here. It was just really odd on the video!!! Danika and I thought it would be dead funny.. and it was, but I think it was just our rather idiotic sense of humor.
We have been singing Old McDonald to Drake quite a lot recently. Danika sings, and I do the farmyard impressions. It turns out I can do a great chicken, and an even better sheep impression. Those I will save for another post!!! Perhaps I need a few more drinks first.
Roasemary Roast Chicken with chicken au jus
1 pasture raised local chicken – between 3 to 4lb
3 stalks of fresh rosemary – rosemary leaves removed and chopped
3 tablespoons of coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper
4ft of string
4 cups of chicken stock
1/2 onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 leek (white part only), chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 glass of dry white wine
3 springs of parsley
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of thyme
5 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon of butter (optional)
Preheat oven to 450F
Truss and season the chicken as per directions in the video above that I am sure is going to make Spielberg want to just give up and retire. If it isn’t clear exactly what to do in the video – feel free to email me (contact is on the about page) – I know my arms and the chicken gets in the way of things.
Put a small, heavy saute pan (cast iron is awesome here) in the oven to preheat.
When the pan has been in there at least 10 minutes, take the pan out of the oven, and put the chicken in it, breast side up. Put this straight back in the oven, and shut the door – fast. I don’t add any fat or liquid to the chicken at all – this will generate steam, which in turn will stop the skin going really crispy.
Once it is in the oven, we are just going to leave it alone for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes take a look at it. If the breast is looking really brown, then cover just the breast area with some aluminum foil, and put it back in the oven. If the whole thing is looking brown, cover it all in foil, and bung it back in.
Whilst the chicken is roasting, lets make the au jus. This is really just a reduced and fortified chicken stock that uses some vegetables, wine, and pan juices to add extra flavor. The Bouchon cookbook has a great recipe for chicken au jus, but this does require you to have chicken bones on hand, that have been roasted – something I don’t have lying around that much.
In a large saucepan heat 1 tablespoon of oil. When hot, add the chopped onion, celery, carrot and leek. Stir this until soft – about 8 minutes. Add in the chopped garlic, and cook for another minute. Crank up the heat and add the wine. Let this bubble and reduce by about half – a few minutes. Pour in the chicken stock. Add the parsley, thyme, bay and peppercorns. Gently stir. Let this bubble away, with a lid slightly on for 40 minutes. Remove the lid, and cook for another 10 minutes. Strain the resulting liquid through a fine mesh sieve a few times to get rid of all solids.
After 45 minutes, take the bird out, and check to see if it is done. Put a meat thermometer into the flesh in the joint between the leg and the breast. If it reads 165F, then the bird is done. Take a few readings to make sure. If it isn’t hot enough yet, then back in the oven she goes. Check it again after 15 minutes.
When the chicken is done, take it out of the pan and place it on a cutting board. Cover the whole chicken with foil. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes. This will let the juices settle throughout the chicken, and result in a more flavorful, more tender bird.
Pour any juices from the chicken pan into a measuring jug. Let this settle into two layers. The top layer is fat, the bottom layer is some great chicken juice.
Put the saute pan that you cooked the chicken in over a high heat. Add a little of the stock. Suck up the chicken juice from the measuring jug using a baster. Add this to the pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan the lift up any stuck bits of chicken. Add in a few ladles more of the chicken stock. Stir, and let this reduce by at least half, until thicker. Strain through a sieve again to remove any more solids that have come up from the pan. Put this juice into a clean small saucepan, and keep warm over a very low heat.
When the chicken has rested for at least 10 minutes, it is time to cut it up. I like to cut it into 4 pieces – two breasts with wings attached, and two legs. Start by cutting off the legs. Cut into the joint between the breast and leg – feeling for the joint between the body and the leg – cut through the joint and the leg will come off. Do the same for the other leg. Cut the breast from the breastbone, taking care to leave the wing attached.
I could give detailed descriptions on how to do this – but it would be useless – it is really just a practice thing. So, get a sharp knife and get stuck in!
Arrange a breast and leg on a plate, perhaps on top of a simple ragu of wild mushrooms, or the fennel/onion confit mentioned above. Spoon over the warm chicken au jus, and serve with a simple salad.
When a great quality chicken is used, this is just the most perfect light evening meal – even in 90degree heat.