Now that tastes like chicken. You know why? Because it is chicken. Yes, chicken, the most popular protein in America. For some reason, it’s also the least controversial protein (except to you gray-skinned, malnourished vegans).
And why is that? Because it’s inexpensive, readily available, easy to prepare (even for shoemakers) has a very mild flavor, and is quite versatile.
For cooking purposes, you should think of chicken as three different products: 1. A whole chicken, 2. Breasts and 3. Legs and thighs. Oh, I almost forgot the wings; they’re practically another food group altogether.
Because of chicken’s almost nonexistent favor, it’s really the perfect product to Chef Up.
For today’s lesson, let’s concentrate on the whole chicken. Always buy the most expensive one you can find. You know all the trendy catch phrases that cause foodies and “health conscious” hipsters to swoon? These are raised humanely with no added hormones, antibiotics, etc. These birds are actually worth the extra jack if you are going to leave them whole and roast them.
To me, few things in life really live up to expectations. A properly roasted chicken is one of them. When I say “properly roasted chicken,” I’m not referring to those disgusting, vomit-inducing, stringy, salty things labeled “rotisserie chicken” at the grocery store. I’m talking about taking a few extra minutes to execute a proper roast.
Your first objective is to wash the bird, especially inside the cavity, to remove any residual blood. (Yes, boys and girls, they were once alive.) Dry the chicken with a paper towel.
Now the fun part begins. Cut off the wing tips and save these for the bed. Next we’ll begin to add flavor. Start by making a compound butter with the recipe below. Take your fingers and gently separate the skin from the breast meat, and slip a couple of tablespoons of butter in this little pocket. You should be able to do this on both sides of the chicken as well as the front and the back. Your chicken should look a little swelled up with all that delicious butter between its skin and flesh.
The next step is to thoroughly and generously season the outside of the bird as well as the skin. Now take the used lemons, a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme and shove them into the cavity.
If you want the bird to cook evenly, you must truss it. If you don’t know how, just tie the legs together. At this point, your oven should be set at 425°F.
Place the beautifully seasoned and trussed bird on a bed of mirepoix (roughly chopped vegetables, typically celery, carrots and onion) and roast away. After 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 375°F and continue for about 50 minutes. If you do it correctly, it will be one of the best meals of your life.
Chef Bill’s Maître d’Hôtel Butter
- 4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 tsp. sel gris (grey salt)
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
- Use immediately or roll in a tube in plastic wrap and chill.
Until we cook again,
Contact Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Amelia Island Culinary Academy in Historic Fernandina Beach, at [email protected] with your recipes or questions, to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!