Yeah, that’s just roasted chicken, but it sounds so much more…I don’t know…FRENCH if you say it the other way. “poo-LAY; ro-TEE”…!
This is the dinner you make when you don’t know what else to do; when you need to impress people, when you want “down home” without the Jerry Springer or Dr. Phil episodes, when you desperately want tasty, crunchy, salty chicken skin.
Yep. I said it.
Again, this was taken from the Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain. I’m not going to quote him (much) because his directions are a little tedious and I have faith that you know the difference between the fridge, the oven, and Betty Page.
The Stuff You’ll Need: a big, honkin’ roasting pan; a basting brush; twine; meat thermometer
The Grub You’ll Need: a chicken (duh)-the whole thing, skin, neck, pope’s nose-please remove the guts, however; salt and pepper; butter (herbed butter if you have it); half a lemon; a large onion, halved; FRESH thyme and rosemary (if you use dried, Mr. Bourdain will hunt you down and spank you); 1 cup white wine (stuff you like, as you’ll want to sip as you cook)
What You Do: preheat your oven to 450. You’re going to bake the chicken at this temp for the first twenty minutes or so and then dial it down to 375 for the rest of the time. Wash the chicken in cold water. Dry it with a paper towel (but don’t rub, or you’ll get those little fuzzies that are just nasty). In the cavity of the bird goes two sprigs each of thyme and rosemary, salt and pepper, half the onion and the lemon. Tie the legs together with the twine. Tuck the wings back or just cut them off…I tuck mine back because I’m a wuss. Under the skin of the bird very gently cram some softened butter (herbed, if you have it). Don’t tear the skin (!), just use your fingers to separate the skin from the muscles; mush it around. (yes, that’s a technical term…stop snickering). Rub lots of salt and pepper all over, even the bottom, of the chicken. In the roasting pan, place the other half of the onion and the guts (okay, giblets) from the bird, the wine and some more butter; put the chicken on top of all that goodness and cook it. Every twenty minutes or so, baste it with the fantastic stuff collecting in the bottom of your roaster. If you find there’s not enough, grab some butter (softened, please) and start smearing. Its cooking, it isn’t supposed to be pretty…
What I’m Not Going to Tell You: is how long to cook your chicken. The initial high temp of 450 is to darken the skin and sort of “seal in” the goodies. You don’t have to do this, of course, but then that crunchy, salty, delicious heart attack-inducing chicken skin might not be as wonderful. As for the rest of the time, you need to put on your big girl panties (yes, gents, you too) and use your thermometer (inserted in the thigh, not-so-deep that you’re scraping bone). When the temp reads 165 or higher, you’re probably safe. Anything more than 185 and you’re risking having a Clark Griswold moment; but, hey! this is your bird. My oven takes about an hour to an hour and a half depending on the size of the chicken.
Please let your masterpiece have a moment of silence before you dig in. That means let it rest. Yes, I’m going to play like the Food Network here and tell you that “the juices need to redistribute”. Whatever. Its hot. Leave it alone to cool for at least fifteen minutes or so. This will also ensure your skin is especially yummy.
When you do decide to devour this dead and divine creature, please take a moment to smell it. As you are carving, you will be able to smell the lemon, the rosemary, the thyme and you will feel sooooo verrrrry…Fooooooodiiieeeee…and it is Good. The meat will be scented with these herbs and aromatics and you will pat yourself on the back with a butter-dripping hand. You are now The Hero of Dinner.
Bourdain, Anthony (2004). The Les Halles Cookbook. New York; Bloomsbury; pgs 180-3.