Wow, I had amazing feedback from the Roast Chicken, the Thomas Keller way post! Not only did my family slurp them all up, I made one for my mom when she came to babysit and she literally tore it apart with her bare hands like a carnivore! There’s just something about really good meat that brings out the animal in us all!! Side note, I just asked her to watch the kids again and she agreed immediately… Good to keep the babysitter happy! Anyhow, many people have said they are trying this recipe and after some experimenting I have a few more pointers I thought I should share, straight from Bouchon Keaton.
- Brining makes a big difference. And it’s easy!
- Drying the chicken on a rack works really well.
- Removing the wishbone before cooking makes for easy carving later.
- Putting some sliced potatoes (sweet, new or russet) under the chicken in the pan is a two fold reward. Your kitchen smoke alarm won’t go off AND you’ll have some of the best potatoes of your life.
Read on my friends!
1: A revision to my previous instructions here on brining. Instead of bringing a big pot of water to a boil just do enough to dissolve the salt. This both reduces the boiling time and eliminates the waiting time for it to cool down so you can put the chicken in. For one chicken add 1/2c salt, 6 bay leaves, 6 garlic gloves, 2T honey and some herbs to a pot large enough to hold the chicken. Add just a few cups of water and boil so the salt dissolves. THEN fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the chicken and pop the pot with the chicken in the fridge. You could have all this ready to go the night before and leave the chicken to brine while you’re out for the day. Simply rinse and bring to room temperature before roasting.
Here is a picture of a brined roast chicken:
And an un-brined roast chicken:
Big difference see? Both tasty but you don’t get that crispy dark color without brining.
2: Another key to the crisp is getting the chicken really dry before roasting. After rinsing I make sure the cavity is drained, then place the whole bird on a tray over a cookie sheet so the air can circulate.
This makes the whole chicken nice and dry.
3: Removing the wishbone before cooking is easy and makes it easy to cut the whole breast away after roasting. The wishbone is attached to the top of the breasts. Reach into the neck cavity side (up by the wings, not the legs) and feel for it right above the breasts. Make two small slits along the whole wishbone, reach in with your fingers and wiggle it loose from the three attachment points, the center and two ends. You’ll be grateful you did this when its time to serve! I tried photographing this but… let’s just say the thousand words that would describe that picture don’t belong on this blog….
4: Placing some chopped potatoes (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) under the chicken will give you a one pot dinner plus reduce the smoke. And the potatoes soak up the chicken jus which tastes amazing! Preheat the pan so nothing sticks (I use a cast iron skillet) add some oil, toss the potatoes around so they are coated, put the seasoned trussed chicken in the middle and roast away. Once the chicken is done, move it to a cutting board to rest, stir the potatoes in the pan, put the pan back into the oven and turn it off. They will crisp up a little more and stay warm until dinner time. The result is a potato with a velvety inside texture and a crispy flavorful skin.
***this is an un-brined chicken I roasted to add to a salad the next day. I wasn’t using the skin and the meat was juicy and flavorful. Chilled overnight, shredded with two forks and tossed right into the salad. We had potatoes for a side dish. Not your usual accompaniment to a salad but I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity for cooking these delicious spuds.
So there are a few things I’ve learned here at Bouchon Keaton after roasting about five chickens the Thomas Keller way.
Enough for 1 chicken
1/2c Kosher Salt
6 Bay Leaves
1/4c Garlic Cloves
1T Black Peppercorns
1 Bunch fresh herbs (rosemary, italian parsley, thyme)
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
Place all ingredients to a pot large enough to hold a chicken. Add enough water to cover the ingredients and bring to a boil for one minute.
Remove from heat, add cold water to make 1/2 gallon total liquid. Make sure liquid is cool, place chicken in pot (weighting with a plate if necessary) and brine for 6 hours.
1 Whole Chicken
Salt and Pepper
1T Canola Oil
Thyme Leaves from 1 sprig
Brine the chicken for at least 6 hours.
Rinse and air dry at room temperature for 30-60 minutes (place the chicken on a rack so the whole surface can dry). Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
Sprinkle the whole bird and inside cavity with salt and pepper. Truss the chicken: tuck the wings into the bird, tie the legs together, then wrap around the tucked wings, secure around the neck and bring back to the front to knot and trim.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When smoking add the canola oil, rotate pan to coat in oil.
Place the chicken into the pan breast side up with legs pointed away from the handle. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 4o-45 minutes. Checking halfway through to ensure even cooking. If it gets too smokey you can cover it with foil part way through. The chicken is done when a thermometer placed into the thigh reads 165 degrees.
Move it to a cutting board to rest. Add the thyme leaves to the pan and sauté quickly. Pour the pan juices with the thyme over the chicken. Carve by removing both legs and then cutting each breast off as a whole piece (easily done if you’ve removed the wish bone).
You can add a layer of potatoes to the pan. This both reduces the smoke and makes for an amazing side dish. Simply chop up any kind of potato and place in the hot pan with some extra oil before adding the chicken. When you remove the chicken to cool, turn off the oven, stir the potatoes and place back into the oven to keep warm until serving.