Kitchen One-Shots: Thomas Keller’s Simple Roast Chicken

When the Silver Fox himself actually suggests we do a cleanse, you know there’s been some culinary carnage happening. Two words–Thanksgiving cruise. I believe there is no additional detail required.

When we got home yesterday afternoon, refreshed, tired, and intestinally gummed-up from a week spent eating basically everything we typically try not to eat at home, all we wanted was clean food. And not too much of it. Also no booze. None. Not even wine. To boot, since we had no groceries and I was also headed back out on a business trip this morning, dinner had to be a straightforward known entity not requiring complexity of either ingredient list or preparation.

I’ve been a fan of Thomas Keller’s Simple Roast Chicken recipe ever since I first made it a few years ago. The title totally says it–this dish is not only dead simple to make, but is perhaps the best roast chicken I’ve ever had, whether made with my apprentice-level paws or anyone with more refined or professional cooking skills. Plus, the recipe yields a carcass perfect for simmering into broth, and enough leftover chicken to eat straight out of the fridge at 11 PM for three nights.

This is also a dish that young Scooter can help with, happily grinding salt and pepper into the bird cavity that I hold gaping for him (my chicken bacteria phobia requires one person to wield the grinder with clean hands while the other manages the dirty birdie). Then we “rain the salt” over the breast, as Keller recommends, the Fox uses his magical military knots to truss, and into the oven we go.

One hour of sitting on my ass later, we pull out of the oven a perfectly browned, crisp, succulent and fragrant chicken, triple-checked for doneness by the Fox with a meat thermometer instead of using Keller’s recommendation to check the looseness of the joints, because, again, the chicken bacteria phobia thing. After waiting the temptation-laden 10-15 minutes of required meat resting time, its time. Keller suggests spreading a bit of butter on your carved slices of chicken as you eat. It sounds weird, but I tell you it’s legit. The moistness of the meat, the palpable salt covering the skin and infusing the taste just so, combines with the creamy butter in a way that is nothing if not mouth-watering. Then there are the drippings. I over-cooked the steamed broccoli and green beans, but who gives a damn? Pass me a slice with skin, and don’t forget the juice.

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