Thursday, April 29, 2010

Recipe: Roast Chicken

We've been using the same roast chicken recipe for years, first found in Nigella Lawson's How To Eat. It's easy, and the results are a flavorful, juicy chicken. Personally, I find it better than restaurant (or similar) roast chickens in that the meat stays moist for a few days, which makes leftovers lovely.

Another thing I like about Nigella's recipe is that she includes a ballpark cooking time that can be adapted to different sized chickens. Specifically, 15 minutes per pound, plus 10. So a 5 pound chicken would cook for 85 minutes. I get annoyed when a recipe calls for a 2-3 pound chicken since they can be hard to find. At least they are at Trader Joe's and my local butcher.

Perhaps I'm bored, perhaps I'm curious, but I've been considering alternate recipes lately. Infidelity?

I tried Thomas Keller's recipe, which resulted in a deliciously crispy skin, but rather tough meat. MetaDaddy was not impressed.

I tried Jacques Pepin's split chicken with a mustard crust from More Fast Food My Way. He says the method cuts the cooking time by half, but it didn't seem like it did. The crust was delicious, and the meat was juicy and tender. I've added it to my repertoire, but only as a chicken recipe, not as a "how to roast a chicken" recipe.

Today, Mark Bittman tweeted about a blog post where the author recounted her experiences in finding a perfect roast chicken recipe. Her goal was to find a moist chicken with crispy skin. Mmm...I love delicious goals. Overall, she didn't find much success. She ended up fusing one approach with another.

In reading the post, I was reminded of a Cook's Illustrated recipe where they used baking powder and punctures throughout the skin to assure super dry skin. Supposedly, it worked well, but I haven't tried it yet. I'm put off by the thought of leaving a chicken coated with the salt mixture on a V-rack in the refrigerator overnight. I'm pretty sure I can't afford the required space for that kind of silliness.

Mark Bittman's approach is clever, as one would expect. He starts with a hot pan. I might try this one next.

Roast Chicken Recipes:
My Nigella Chicken
Thomas Keller
Felicity Cloake Blog Post - Multiple approaches tested
Cooks Illustrated
Mark Bittman