Friday, April 25, 2008

French Laundry at Home Extra: Trussing and Roasting a Chicken

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a KCRW podcast of Evan Kleiman's "Good Food" radio show. At the start of each show, she punts to a field reporter who does a "Market Report," talking about what's in and what's good at the local farmers' markets in Southern California. In this particular podcast, field reporter Laura Avery interviewed a chef (his words, not mine) named Paul Shoemaker (formerly of Providence, Los Angeles) as they walked through the Santa Monica Farmer's Market.

I was struck by this interview (which you can listen to by clicking here), because here was this guy, Shoemaker, who claimed to be a chef, but who also claimed the best way to cook a chicken is to "tusk it."

I could tell the interviewer was caught off guard, because she asked him about 5 or 6 follow-up questions about his technique to try and get him to correct himself, but he kept talking about all the ways to "tusk a bird." As I listened to it, I almost began to second-guess myself and what I know about cooking because this is a reputable radio program, and I cannot believe the producers would allow a line like, "I tusk it -- I tie it with butcher's twine" to be on the air.

Go ahead and listen to the podcast -- I lost count how many times that nitwit talked about "tusking" a chicken before I blurted out loud, "No, you dumbass. You truss it. You don't tusk it." (And then, of course, I thought of the USC marching band and was song-poisoned for DAYS.)

I feel like that's something everyone knows -- or should know -- whether you cook, or not. And, while I don't expect most people to know what "en crèpinette de Byaldi" means, knowing the difference between "trussing" and "tusking" (?!?!?!?!) a chicken is pretty basic. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU HAVE THE BALLS TO CALL YOURSELF A CHEF. And sorry for the imagery you are inevitably getting when you hear the verb "to tusk a chicken" of some poor chicken being rammed you-know-where by an elephant. And yes, I am aware there are no chickens ba-gocking and roaming around the Serengeti with a pack of elephants. That's not my point. Wait. What was my point? Oh yeah, people who call themselves chefs, but don't know basic terminology.

And, shame on KCRW for putting that little interview on the air. They're a reputable NPR affiliate and should know better -- especially when it comes to taped portions of the program that could be edited or fixed. Live mistakes? Fine. It happens. But when you have the time to fix something so erroneous? Tsk, tsk. Or, rather, tusk, tusk, apparently.

So for everyone who has found this page because you Googled "tusk a chicken," please smack yourself and read on. And, Paul Shoemaker, if you've set up a Google Alert for when your name is published somewhere on the Internet and you find this post, smack yourself twice. Oh, and stop calling yourself a chef.

Because of this dude's vocabulary challenges, and my ever-strengthening belief in the importance of really getting good at the basics, I decided I'd take on some of the extra bonus features of The French Laundry Cookbook and do them here, as well. There are a few little extras in the book: trussing and roasting a chicken, preparing Béarnaise Mousseline, and cooking tripe. If you have the book, this little chicken bit is on page 171.

It's no secret that Thomas Keller loves roasted chicken. He writes about it in The French Laundry Cookbook, and there are a few pages devoted to it in Bouchon. On page 171 of The French Laundry Cookbook, he shares a story of how a chef he worked with threw a knife at him because he wasn't sure how to roast a chicken.

You know that I don't share recipes from The French Laundry Cookbook, but Epicurious has reprinted the chicken trussing and roasting instructions from Bouchon, so I'm going to include a link to that here.

I knew I was having some friends over for dinner a few nights ago and I wanted to do something easy because we were definitely having a casual night (and because work has been kicking me in the ass lately). So, I found it the perfect opportunity to roast a chicken. But first, the trussing. Here's the chicken after I'd rinsed it and patted it dry:

See that little triangular piece at the bottom, down by the legs? That's the chicken butt, and because I am twelve, it's my favorite part to point out. It's actually the best part of the chicken to eat (once it's roasted), as far as I'm concerned. Just the right balance of meat, fat and skin, and my neighbor's son and I shared it this time around (it's his favorite part, too).

I turned the chicken over on its back and had the cavity facing me. I then wrapped some twine around the back and below the butt, and brought it up around over the legs -- then crisscrossing it to bring the legs together, then back under the back and on the top to bring the wings in (some people like to tuck them under the chicken; I prefer the way they cook/taste when they're tight to the body). Then, I salt and peppered it (I'd already added a little bit of salt to the inside when I patted it dry):

I put the chicken into a roasting pan and put him in a 375-degree oven for 90 minutes (he was 4.31 lbs.). It was at this point that when I poked a paring knife into it, the juices ran clear.

I took it out and let it rest, covered, for another 15 minutes:

Here's what it looked like uncovered before I carved it:

I'm a huge fan of dark meat, but I gotta say that the breast meat on this chicken was really, really spectacular. And the skin? Crisptacular. I didn't baste with butter. I didn't add any herbs. I didn't put a lemon in the cavity. I didn't put it on a rack. I didn't douse it in apple cider. I didn't do any of the things that many other chefs and home cooks do. I only used salt in the cavity (maybe a tablespoon) and salt and peppered the outside (probably 2T of salt and 1.5T of cracked black pepper). Too often, chicken gets crapped up with too many other competing flavors, when, for me anyway, it tastes best with just a little salt and pepper.

I served this with some peas (which my friend, Holly, so wonderfully provided), some roasted sweet potatoes with thyme, and some corn, which I had frozen from the last crop of fresh corn last fall -- I just thawed it, added some butter, fresh tarragon from the garden, a little salt, and some chopped bacon, and holy moley it was good. Oh, my friend's son also shaved some fresh parmagiano-reggiano overtop the corn and made it even better.


That chicken was soooo scrumptious. I'm still thinking about it now, a few days later. And I'm smiling. WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME? Oh, yeah. I ate good food. It was simple, uncomplicated, and really, really good.

How do you roast chicken? Do you season it with salt and pepper? Do you brine it? Do you shove stuff in the cavity? Do you season or enhance it with other things? Have you ever eaten a chicken butt? Did you giggle just now? Busted. Use the comments to let me know. I'd love to hear how you like your chicken. But do me one favor: try roasting a chicken one night just like this one. Plain and simple. Trussed. Roasted. Salt and pepper. And tell me what you think.

Up Next: "Peas and Carrots" -- Maine Lobster Pancakes with Pea Shoot Salad and Ginger-Carrot Emulsion

Resources:
Chicken from
Whole Foods

Music to Truss a Chicken By:
A certain double album by Fleetwood Mac. Because if I have to be song-poisoned, so do you.

Read my previous post: Veal Stock

88 comments:

Anna Banana said...

Last night my 12 year old son, who has been watching a lot of Scrubs) wanted to dissect a whole chicken. We sliced through the breast longitudinally (a medical term?) and discovered the kidneys and an adrenal gland and the places where the other organs used to be (he didn't notice the butt!). Then he took off, and I googled Butterflied Chicken. I marinated (a dear friend says Marianated. I don't correct her, but she doesn't call herself a chef) it in rosemary, chopped green garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt and pepper for an hour in the fridge. Roasted it at 400 degrees for about 90 min. I poured some rich chicken stock over it about half way through. Delicious! After dinner I simmered the backbone (including butt) in the jus, then strained it (the enriched jus, not the butt) for another time.

Chris said...

Chicken Butt... Heh I'm 12 too.
I have read Keller extol the virtues of chicken butt. I haven't roasted a chicken in years, (not enough dark meat), but I smoked a duck a couple of weeks ago and took enormous pleasure in the duck butt, at term that garnered gales of laughter from my dinner guest when I mumbled a replied to the question "whatcha eatn'?" with "Duck Butt". From all accounts duck and chicken butt taste a lot better than warthog butt.

Reebs said...

Beautiful. My favorite way to eat chicken is almost the same. But add some olive oil and herbes de Provence. Very simple, I think I found the recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website. Few things in this world can be rivaled by the perfectly roasted chicken. Once again, great job.

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

I don't roast a lot of chicken because my wife doesn't like chicken on the bone...but I do make a lot of roast sweet potatoes. Try them with dill instead of thyme...that's my favorite.

caitlinhc said...

My family calls the chicken butt, the "pope's nose." Why? Reason lost in the mists of time. It is the most sought after piece of the bird. Usually the carver gets dibs.
On roasting: Recently tried Alice Waters' recipe, from her new book, which is similarly simple. I'm at work so I can't check right now but I believe she does advocate the use of a rack (which made for a crispy bottom!) and uses a temp of 400? Whatever the process, it was a much lauded bird in our house!

Aaron said...

I just went to look at the recipe I use for roast chicken that I found online and absolutely love (just made it last night, actually). Turns out it was the TK's Bouchon recipe that I got from epicurious. The same one you linked to! I don't think it's funny that you still think about it days later either. I usually do.

caitlinhc - My family also calls it the "pope's nose", and like you, they could never explain why to me.

Joel said...

Grandma always called chicken butt "the last part over the fence," and it's stuck that way.

If you want to see wrong words and pronunciations being used, try Top Chef this season. "Bellini" when they mean "blini", "broonwah" for "brunoise"...

JoP in Omaha said...

I confess. I've never roasted a chicken successfully. I've tried. Lots of times. Lots of recipes. Even Keller's can't-be-simpler-than-that approach. But my chicken always turns out over- or under-done, and my attempts to compensate haven't helped much. I even use an oven thermometer so I do know the temp. of the oven. It's weird. Roasted chicken is easy, right? So they say. It's gotta be an oven thing. There's something about my oven that results in poor results when roasting. It's not just chicken that doesn't come out right. Bummer.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a big fan of Trussing (Bondage is best left in the bedroom--Did you just blush?) But when I roast a chicken I smear on a paste of Salt (Kosher) Pepper, Garlic, Smoked paprika and thyme mixed with some olive oil. Comes out with a great salty Smoky flavor from the paprika and a hint of sweetness.

pdxblogmommy said...

I both love AND hate you at the same time. I didn't think that was possible.

E said...

Mmmm roast chicken! I use the Bourdain Les Halles method most often but I think I'll try this one on Sunday.

Hehe, I don't share the chicken butt with anyone, I cut it off and eat it right before I tell my husband to come carve up the chicken! He eats the turkey butt every year.

amber said...

i've only roasted a chicken once because, quite frankly, it was intimidating. stupid, right? ah well. i think i stuffed it with lemon and rosemary and rubbed butter on the skin. and once i figured out how in the world to truss it (okay really? he said tusk?! repeatedly?! hell, i'm far from being a chef and even I know it's "truss"), it turned out pretty good. i'm definitely interested to give it another go. the simple route is intriguing.

yoshi said...

Aren't you overreacting a bit? I have no idea who this guy is but I've heard several different words used to describe tying up a chicken. Tusk could mean the act of using a needle to thread the twine through. And I didn't think that the reporter was put off by it. I always had difficulty pronouncing 'truss' myself (it comes out 'tush' more often than I like - everyone can laugh now) so I tend to be a bit more sensitive to people overreacting over the use of words. Besides not everyone goes through formal schooling and there are a number of regional descriptions of methods that haven't made it to the net yet.

I throw a bird in an oven or on a grill once a week - I love the smell (especially herbs spreading throughout the house) and versatility of the things.

Denise said...

Carol, you should host a convention for all of us who are 12 yet have growup jobs, and we could all wear this as our official t-shirt:
http://www.onehorseshy.com/lowbrow/guess_what_chicken_butt/

Melicob said...

I'm so glad I'm not alone in my butt loving!

As for roast chicken, I brine, butter and roast, but don't do it nearly as often as I should. I usually cut my chicken into parts for separate uses instead of roasting the whole thing.

Denise said...

Sorry, I lose. Messed up the link.

Officially awesome shirt for grownup 12-year-olds like you is here.

Browse through the rest of their Lowbrow shirts and I promise you'll snort milk out of your nose. Or foie gras or something. :-P

Catherine said...

1. If I ever see Paul Shoemaker around L.A., I am going to run up to him, kick him in the shin and then yell "What? Did I break your leg?! Well, why don't you just TUSK IT BACK TOGETHER?!"

2. As a USC alumna, I always appreciate any school shoutouts. And now I will go listen to "Tusk" and do my little dance, which is AWESOME.

Jeanne said...

Amen to Joel on the mispronunciations on this season of Top Chef. I nearly went into convulsions during the blini/bellini episode.

I put herbs, half a lemon, and half an onion inside the chicken before trussing it. In the summer, we have lots of oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, and parsley so usually some combination of those. Salt & pepper the outside, and then roast until the probe thermometer says it is done.

Heh. Probe. Apparently I too am 12...

Tino said...

Just for the hell of it, I googled "tusking chicken". Google indeed came back with this entry being listed first, but above your link, it asked: "Did you mean: talking chicken".

Not sure which is more disturbing, tusking a chicken, or a talking chicken.

Awesome entry, by the way.

Chris said...

JoP in Omaha have you tried adding some mass to your oven to hold the heat? In old episode of Good Eats, AB explains all about the possible temperature fluxuations in a standard oven. up to 75° +/- the target oven temp... Get some fire brick, pizza stone or red brick wrapped in foil, to retain the heat. Once you have the stone/brick etc allow the oven to preheat for 20-40 mins so that the brick is preheated too...

Best of luck and never give in.

Cheers

RT said...

I suggest 3 alternative definitions of "Tusk"
1) to hang cheesecloth from something after florping puree into it for the purpose of draining the puree. ex: I tusked the puree by using the end of my mixer.
2) a period when life is kicking your ass as if you are being prodded by a rampaging elephant. ex: This has been a tusk week.
3) To smack down educated people for saying dumb things. ex: they tusked Quayle for saying the language of Latin America was Latin. Note, not be to be confused with mocking people less educated than yourself (see jerk).

Inspired by Ruhlman and this blog, I started roasting whole chickens (instead of buying skinless breasts)a few months back so I could make stock with the leftovers. (by the way JOP I found a good meat thermometer helped a lot - but you have probably already tried that trick).

JD said...

I like to roast a chicken (or game hen) with shallots and thyme on the inside. Just a bit of melted butter on the outside. (Oh man, what if you used rendered duck fat...!?!?)

But, yes, simpler is better with a roast chicken. If I wanted tons of complex flavors I'd make coq au vin or a chicken tagine.

Curious if anyone here has used the "Chicken in a Pot" recipe from Cook's Illustrated a month or two ago. Great flavor, but no crispy skin :-(

Beanie said...

I don't know from chicken butts... But my grandfather (God rest his soul) always called turkey butt the "Pope's Nose" and he would snag it faster than a hobo on a ham sammich every Thanksgiving. I miss him.

Me and chicken? I'm with you: Salt. Pepper. Done. If I want gravy, I'll put the chicken on a 1/2" rack and put a few veggies and some water under the chicken. This is in stark contrast to turkey, which I feel I have to brine the living daylights out of and stuff with aromatics to make it edible.

tgillock said...

Did he go to a fancy school to learn how to say tusk a chicken? I mean he got all the other fancy french terms right, but he couldn't get truss? Bty your chicken looks YUMMY! I think that's what we will have for dinner.

Xani said...

chicken/turkey butt is ABSOLUTELY the best part and my whole family fights over who gets it anytime we roast a bird!!

Ed said...

I use the high temperature roasting method from the Bouchon cookbook all all the time--usually a chicken a week as my wife loves roasted chicken--and the chicken always comes out great. Just salt and pepper and then a bit of fresh thyme in the cooking juices for basting. I've done the slightly more ornate version from the book as well which is great too, but keep going back to the simpler version since all you really need is salt and pepper for a lovely roasted chicken.

And, the carcasses make for excellent chicken stock later on.

As ever, this blog rocks.

Robert said...

Hi - I usually use S & P on the chicken, then roast on a rack in a roasting pan that has onions and root vegetables surrounding the chicken; when it's done, I'll save the onions for my 1 year old (he cannot get enough sweet onions!), remove the super sweet/carmelized root veggies, then deglaze with some chix stock for a quick sauce.

MMMMM...good!

BTW, since we're close in age (I'm 42) all the music references are spot on - thanks for ruining my day with visions of the University of Spoiled Children band!

Carol Blymire said...

Yoshi (and to clairfy this for others who have yet to comment): I wanted to wait a little bit to let your comment sink in, and give myself some time to think about what you said. And here's the deal -- No, I don't think I'm overreacting. Here's why:

I am a critical person by nature and I possess a really annoying trait of expecting perfection from myself and others. Because of that, I know I can be incredibly judgmental at times, but I believe that as I've gotten older, I have a healthy perspective on when to react to something and when to let it pass. This is one of those times I just couldn't let it pass. This KCRW interview was not a "man on the street" in which some Robin Miller fan drooling at the market raves about how "me and Cletus just love to tusk chickens and cook 'em fer dinner."

It was an interview with a former chef of a restaurant that has been featured in Food Arts magazine, among other well-regarded media outlets. This is an issue of credibility.

The station clearly knew this guy was wrong, because in their write-up about the interview, they spelled it "truss," not "tusk." So, they get it on one level, I suppose.

For me, the title of "chef" gets thrown around and bestowed (sometimes self-bestowed) undeservedly. Paul Shoemaker saying "tusk" instead of "truss" was not a speech impediment, nor a regional inflection. "Melk" and "aigs" are regional inflections -- and still resemble the spelling of the word. "Tusk" does not. Nor did he mean that he was threading a needle. He got a lot of other more difficult terms right, so it's not for lack of education.

I believe that when you call yourself a chef, you'd better damn well know the very basics of cooking. Before I published this post, I did my research on "tusking a chicken" and in addition to searching the Library of Congress' database, I also checked in with three experts, Ruhlman being one of them. Hell, he wrote the book on the fundamentals of cooking. His response was: You're right, he's wrong.

The errors on Top Chef (and FN to be fair) makes me nuts, too. It's a far bigger rant about laziness and sloppiness than I have the time or energy to go into today, but to sum up: I expect Howard Schultz NOT to say "eXpresso." I expect Anna Wintour NOT to say "sue a dress." I expect my physician NOT to say "Oh, you're having headaches? Are they morgrains?" I expect Bobby Flay NOT to say "chipoltee."

I mean, if Food Network can get Sandra Lee's editors to go back into one of her shows and have her VO the word "espresso" properly to cover up the boo-boo she made while taping, then clearly they, too, are learning that mispronunciations diminish credibility, and are striving to fix it. I will give them due credit for that.

Anonymous said...

That "tusk"-ing thing drove me crazy through the whole interview too! I have a friend who works on that show, I'll ask her about having a correction for all those poor confused people. Maybe it's a strange speech impediment?

Carol Blymire said...

Now, on to some of the other comments --

Denise: I have that shirt. And the magnet on my fridge.

Yoshi: When you grill it, do you do anything else to it? Use wood chips? Or is it just charcoal (or gas)-grilled?

RT: "Man, this has been a tusky week." Let's totally introduce that into the vernacular.

Anonymous: Thank you.

All: I am SERIOUSLY still thinking about how good this chicken was. I hope you give it a shot.

Carol Blymire said...

Tino: Now that you Googled "tusking a chicken" and got "talking chicken," I thought I'd do the same. I got: "Do you mean, taking a chicken?"

What, like to the prom or something?

Kate said...

I can't believe someone who claims to be a chef actually said tusk instead of truss. Maybe that's why he's "formerly" of Providence and not currently employed there. I know that you, like I, would give a pass if English were not that person's primary language, but we know that's not the case here. The fact that thousands upon thousands of line cooks across America bust their butts to earn minimum wage, and this guy makes money as a chef and doesn't know the basics is just sad.

Anonymous said...

My favorite roast chicken recipe is from Judy Rodgers from her Zuni Cafe cookbook. (See the recipe for roast chicken with bread salad. I usually just make the chicken part of the recipe, but will tackle the bread salad someday. This dish at Zuni was the first time I understood how people could be so crazy about chicken. Before that I thought of it as the boring dish you get if you don't know what you want to eat.) To me it's the perfect combination of moist, flavorful meat and crisp, beautifully browned skin. The recipe requires pre-salting the bird for a couple of days in the fridge, so you have to plan ahead, but it's worth it!

LucyD -- Only Tarot said...

Hi, Carol.
Sometimes I brine a bird (particularly if it's going on the grill) but brining isn't that great for oven-roasted bird because the skin never gets crunchy enough.

Here is my chicken butt story: When I was 14 I read "Kon-Tiki" by Thor Heyerdahl. At one point during his travels alone sailing the Pacific Ocean on a raft, he met up with a tribe who wanted to feed him roasted chicken. As the roasted bird was being brought to the group, the chief ripped off the butt and handed it to Thor...it was a mighty gesture because only the mightiest person in the tribe got to eat the butt.

Hopie said...

Laughing out loud and your post and making a fool out of myself again! Thanks. I LOVE roast chicken, probably my favorite food. I usually let the butcher do the trussing (I should ask him to tusk next time and see what he says!) but it's good to know how. My recipe for roast chicken : http://hopieskitchen.blogspot.com/2008/04/sunday-roast-chicken.html

It's pretty simple too, but I like roasting the veggies along with it. I'll have to try the salt and pepper technique...

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you on the tusking, oh I mean trussing discussion. I roast my chicken according to the Bouchon recipe and like it with corn and roasted root veggies. My husband each eat a quarter for dinner and then enjoy the rest in sandwiches during the week. Lucky for me my husband doesn't know about the chiecken butt and I hoard it all to myself everytime. Mean huh?

Jaye Joseph said...

This is the roast chicken recipe I've been using for a couple of years now. I bet I do it once a week and I've turned so many people onto it. It also works well with chicken parts if you don't want to do a whole chicken. Delish!

iko said...

I love your site! This is my first comment, though, but the chicken looks to good to NOT to write anything about it. I completely agree, salt and pepper, maybe a little thyme in the cavity, but that's it. So simple and good! Keep up the strong cooking!

Stacy said...

OOOOOooooohhhhh yeah. I stumbled across this recipe on Epicurious and it is now the only roast chicken I will ever love. I do use a rack, but then I put sweet potatoes and onions is the pan and then they roast in the juices with a little fresh thyme. Holy cow. Amazing how simplicity wins almost every time. I have also found how spectacular it can be with a really high quality bird. Hands down my favorite meal.

By the by, you are hilarious.

CJW said...

I roast a chicken probably twice a month so I can have a good reserve of chicken stock in the freezer. It's my favorite lazy Sunday dinner staple. I roast mine at 400 degrees with a head of garlic, herbs, and onion stuffed in there for about 90 minutes. About halfway through the cooking time, I put some potatoes in the pan so they can cook in the chicken fat and juices and get all crispy and delightfully fatty tasting!

MrsVJW said...

I was totally poultry-roasting-impared until I heard raves about the Bouchon high-roast method, and I tried the recipe after finding it on Epicurious. Previous attempts would result in long cooked birds with the difficult to achieve half raw/haf dry status and always left me so bummed. How horrible of a cook was I that I couldn't roast a chicken using a recipe that worked for zillions of others?

But, no more, I have not had a poultry roasting disaster since I started using that recipe. Salt and pepper on a dry bird, (usually an untrussed bird, usually because I already have poulty-hands and don't want to dig thru the junk drawer for the twine) and in to my cast iron skillet. Throw that in the oven, relax for an hour, and then take out the perfect bird.

Ms Meghan said...

Glamour's "engagement chicken" is pretty delicious with herb roasted potatoes.

http://www.glamour.com/lifestyle/dobetter/articles/2006/07/10/engagementchicken05feb

Robin said...

There really isn't much better than a perfectly roasted chicken, is there? I usually do some variation of the Ina Garten chicken and croutons (or something like that). I'll put a bunch of onions under the chicken, and usually onion, garlic, onions, and tons of whatever fresh herbs I have inside, maybe under the skin, too. Salt and pepper, then roast it. Then serve that on top of croutons made by cubing really good bread and toasting it in olive oil. You put the chickin on the croutons, then slice it, and all the juices get soaked up. I'm hungry

Sally Forth said...

We always called the chicken butt the parson's nose. We generally have roast chicken every Sunday and have narrowed the seasonings down to either salt and pepper or Old Bay and sometimes a squeeze of lemon if one is handy. In our family it's the "oysters" along the back that everyone fights for.

js said...

I'm one of the lazyfolk and I don't usually "tusk" a chicken. I've done "tusking" before though and I compare that with my "non-tusked" chickens and I like the non-tusked ones because they are cooked more unevenly. Strange, huh? I like having parts more cooked and some other parts not as cooked.

Roast chicken is one of my favourite meals as well and I love the fact how infinitely versatile it is. In fact, if it were up to me, I'll keep blogging about roasting chickens, but other people keep me in check.

(We have two entries so far on roast chickens: http://eatingclubvancouver.blogspot.com/2007/03/1st-annual-spring-break-potluck-roast.html and http://eatingclubvancouver.blogspot.com/2008/03/roast-chicken-with-parsnips-mushrooms.html)

I feel like a roast chicken dinner this Sunday! Your chicken there is making me hungry.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Roast chicken is a delightful thing! Although I've been ramming butcher's tusks in my chickens for years, so I dunno what you're talking about ;-)

Your In Fashion said...

I read up to the comment by the gentleman who suggests basting the bird with duck fat-- I highly recommend it! I do it religiously, and i don't know if it actually makes the chicken taste any better, but it just has to!

I usually do the basic easy truss with salt, and thyme, but additionally I blanket the chicken with cayenne pepper so it's really spicy as well. Last time I whipped up a batch of the SC BBQ sauce from Ruhlmann's Charcuterie to go along with it.

Also, I read that you cook your birds at 375 for 90 minutes. This is curious to me. I roast at 450 (as per the bouchon cookbook) always with a 4-5 pound chicken for 60 min. give or take. How crispy does the skin get at 375? Did you ever roast it at 450 and if so what changed your min?

Carol Blymire said...

YIF: I am still drooling at the duck fat suggestion, too... let the record show.

As for cooking temps -- I've done it at the higher temp before, and yes, the skin gets extra crispy, which I love. However, because my kitchen is small, it also makes my dining toom really hot, so I have to be careful about that when company is over. Also, I had to roast the sweet potatoes at the same time, so I had to use a lower temp. My oven holds heat really well, so it's almost the same as doing it at 400 degrees.

But, when it's balls-to-the-wall-no-worries time, I do my chickens at 450 for an hour.

Both ways produce a phenomenal chicken as far as I'm concerned.

Victoria said...

Maybe I have to be embarrassed about this - but the hell with it; here goes:

I use the Set It and Forget It rotisserie for the best roast chicken I have ever had. My friend, who has the most unplugged kitchen of anyone I know, sent me an article from The New Yorker a few years back about Ron Popeil and this product, and based on that article I immediately ordered one (from Amazon) and have used it on weekends in the country ever since. But first - and this is a big but (let's not make any more butt jokes here, okay - except that my grandmother always called that part of the chicken the pope's nose) I buy a D'Artagnon chicken, take it out of its wrapper, rub it all over with a little kosher salt, put it upside down on a rack on a plate, let it sit overnight, turn it over the next day and let it sit all day. (I am NOT compulsive.) Then I tusk (opps) truss it, with dental floss (yes, yes, unwaxed), throw it in the rotisserie and (over)cook it for an hour and a half. No butter, no more salt, no lemon, no nothing. It is dark brown and gorgeous - and not dry. I prefer dark meat, and if there are only two of us, we each eat a leg, thigh, and wing. I save the white meat to make chicken salad for sandwiches the next day. Oh, and I usually blanch green beans in tons of boiling salted water and drizzle them with the chicken fat that has dripped off this glorious bird. Well, you did ask how we roasted our chickens, didn't you? I am going to try your method in the City though since I roast chickens in the oven here. Thanks.

J.T. said...

Hm. I was recently informed that there was such a thing as "chicken butts," and that my spouse has been bogarting them before I even make it into the kitchen.

Honestly, there have been a lot of Costco roto chickens in my life lately, and I've been happily boning every bird that comes home raw. But this sounds like a real good approach the next time I manage to get a whole, unmolested bird into the oven... great post!

JoP in Omaha said...

Hey, Chris, thanks for the reminder about Alton Brown's recommendation to essentially build an oven in your oven to do things like roast a chicken. I've seen that episode, and it seems to address lots of the difficulty I have, but I haven't tried his technique. One of these days....

the italian dish said...

I actually like to butterfly the chicken, lay it in a pan spread eagle. That way, the thighs get very nicely crisped. When you cook the chicken whole, the part of the thighs underneath never really crisp up. I also squeeze an orange over the chicken. I love that taste.

sd-b said...

Great post!

I will try this recipe next time but I don't understand how the chicken doesn't get overcooked or burnt. If I don't flip my chicken, the top gets burnt and dry and the bottom is soggy and undercooked. Hm....

My favorite roast chicken is an Apricot-Ginger-Soy recipe. I baste the chicken twice in the last 20 minutes of roasting with a glaze made with soy, sesame oil, cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, red peper flakes and apricot jam. Then serve over steamed napa cabbage to absorb all the juicy yumminess :)

One Swell Foop said...

I use only salt and pepper inside and out before roasting, and a four small pats of butter. One pat for each breast, and one for each thigh, shoved under the skin and held against the meat. You'll appreciate this I'm sure, because butter makes everything better.

Barzelay said...

Sounds great, but by the time the juices run clear, the chicken is often way more done than it needs to be (i.e., way more done than USDA recommendation, which is already probably too high). You should consider checking the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. You may find yourself with more juicy, more tender chicken.

Steph said...

I love your blog, Carol! I too am twelve.

I have been roasting chickens very simply with only salt and pepper for about the past year. Before that, I would add olive oil, or rub the skin with butter, or stuff the cavity with lemons, or season haphazardly with whatever I could find, but I agree with you - I have seen the light - it's better if you keep it simple. Salt and pepper.

I have not ever tried trussing, though now I will.

Another success I have had was with spatchcocking and weighting the chicken on the grill. It was a different yet almost equally pleasurable experience to the plain old roasted chicken. But I cut myself with the spatchcocking knife and it didn't heal quickly, so the experience is thusly colored in my memory, and I don't know when I will do it again. Roasting is easier anyway.

I roast potatoes, carrots, whole garlic cloves, and cut up jalapenos in a separate pan with olive oil, thyme, and rosemary. Then I serve it with some greens. My man loves it - it ranks as one of his 2 favorite meals along with my Sunday Gravy with (sometimes) meatballs, sausage and pork.

I eat the butt. I now love it, though as a younger woman it skeeved me to see my friend's mom going to town on poultry ass.

Rock on!

Steph said...

For cooking temps - I actually start it on broil for about 15 minutes or until the smoke detector goes off, then turn on the convection oven at 375. It seems to do the trick.

Nick said...

I've heard stories of a certain well-known European restaurateur here in the D.C. area who would often berate his largely hispanic cooks -- partly in their own language. "You are not a chef," he would say,"you are a zapatero!" In spanish, "zapatero" means shoemaker.

Shannon said...

I grind up some rosemary, mix it with kosher salt and pepper and apply the mixture underneath the skin all over the breast meat.

I then roast the chicken breast side down which IMO makes the breasts the juiciest cuz you know how gravity works and all that.

And then I save the juices and the bones for chicken soup.

Anonymous said...

Carol,
Really - 3 tablespoons of kosher salt on one 4lb chicken, butt included. That seems seriously out of whack with anything remotely necessary or healthy. Even Bouchon only calls for 1 tablespoon on a 3lb chicken albeit "to taste". I can't believe that in nearly 60 comments, no one else finds this excessive. What about those that don't know the difference between a measure of regular table salt and kosher? I know my mom has never purchased kosher salt in her entire life. She reads your blog. If she put 3 tablespoons of the salt in her cabinet on her little chicken, it would be inedible. Salty yes, worth the 9 buck butcher bill, no. Roast bird of most any kind is a healthy meal but that much salt has its own credibility problem, tusk or no tusk.

Carol Blymire said...

Anonymous: If you read closely, you'll see that I caveated the salt measurements with the words "maybe" and "probably" -- they're estimations, not exact instructions. So, it may have been close to 3T, but also maybe not. The chicken came out as near to perfect as I've ever made it, so this worked for me. I don't own table salt, and I salt things as they're cooking so that there's really no need for salt once something is done. You know what? Mother's Day is just two weeks away -- why don't you buy her some kosher salt? And a chicken! You could roast it together for a nice Mother's Day lunch!

Karen said...

So, I wanted to look up the etymology of "pope's nose" and this is what I could find: "seems to have originated as a derogatory term meant to demean Catholics in England during the late 17th century." I wish I could find proof for that...the OED doesn't have a citation earlier than 1788, and they don't give any etymology at all.

As for how I roast a chicken--I'm pathetically reliant on the Cooks Illustrated cookbook, "The Best Recipe." Their recipe doesn't involve much seasoning, nor any stuffing or brining, but it does involve a rack and four turns: side to breast to side to back. It cooks a charm and tastes like heaven.

I'm with you, Carol, on professionals and language. There's simply no excuse for a professional chef not to be able to pronounce the terminology of his or her craft.

Blithe said...

I'm sure the whole "pope's nose"/"parson's nose" thing has its roots in historical name-calling although people today don't intend (usually) intend it to be. I grew up in a Protestant family who always called it the "pope's nose." I married into a Catholic family who call it the "parson's nose." I try to avoid sectarian tensions and call it the "tail." This has its own potential for hilarity/12 year old humour, but we need that at many family gatherings.

Blithe said...

Oops, I meant people don't (usually) intend to be derogatory.

Moonbeam's Auntie said...

Aagh! Now I've got stupid Trojan marching band songs in my head (this from a two-time Bruin!)

Meghan said...

I like to spatchcock the chicken---an excellent excuse to use poultry shears, and I find that it cooks more evenly.

Also, Jamie Oliver has a method where you wrap the chicken in a simple flour-water dough before roasting (it ends up looking like this: http://missblotto.blogspot.com/2006/06/its-brilliant.html). The meat is incredibly tender, and you get the bonus of this delicious crunchy-doughy chickeny-salty crust to pick at with your meat.

Anonymous said...

I must roast a chicken this week, if for no other reason than to remove the memory of last week's Passover chicken massacre (thanks *ever* so much, dear M-I-L!) from my mind. Will liberally salt & pepper it before trussing it securely, all the while thinking of you. :-)

mike said...

Carol,

Here's a question for you. Do you have issues with turning your house into a smoke-fest when you roast chicken? I, and others I've managed to talk to, have a problem containing juices in the pan. Things go downhill fast when it splatters onto the oven coils. Even a sheet of aluminum foil under the roasting pan doesn't seem to help a ton. Just wonderin'...

Also, a pretty cool and very easy alternative to roasted sweet potatoes in this kind of dish is butternut squash. You can find the recipe in Bouchon. I made it to go with the gnocchi recipe.

Carol Blymire said...

Mike: Yes. When the oven is at 450, grease splatters all over the oven and my house smells like ass. I end up having to clean the oven that night. It is a pain in the ass.

Grant said...

Usually when I roast a chicken I almost never bother trussing it. The most I do it tuck the wings under and then tie the legs together. I salt, pepper the inside and outside and stuff a lemon, a head of garlic that has been sliced in half and a small bunch of thyme. Then I just slather the skin with olive oil and shove it in the oven. Also I bake it in a skillet, that way when the chicken is done cooking, it's really easy to make a simple gravy with a little white wine and chicken stock.

Next time I'll do the more simple way - salt and pepper. Thanks. Now I'm craving a roast chicken.

eb said...

She said...chicken butt. Heh, heh..
I salt and pepper the cavity, then truss and salt the outside, slide a thyme, sage herb butter mixture under the breasts, shove orange wedges in the cavity. 375 degree oven for 90 min. I love it...but since I love saving the prep time, I will do your version next time.

Sarah said...

After buying this cookbook we too saw his recipe for Roast Chicken, gave it a try and loved it!!! It is hands down the best and the easiest roast chicken I have ever made. Glad you highlighted it in this post :)

Anonymous said...

My husband hates that I cackle like a crazy person when I read your blog. Thanks! My Danish father always called it "præst næsen"- priest's nose.

Scott said...

I love your blogs. I happened upon them and every one brightens my day. You rule

Andrew said...

Greek style:

3-4 cloves minced garlic
olive oil
lemon juice
Greek oregano
salt
pepper

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend loves to do a beer can chicken roast. Bit of salt and pepper, ram (or tusk would be appropriate) a half can of beer up the backside of the chicken, roast, and done! It makes for an exceptionally moist bird. Plus, I think he just likes saying we're going to have beer butt chicken.

michelle @ TNS said...

sometimes i refer to my dog as "chicken butt."

we roast 'em super plain. salt and pepper. start the bird upside down in a roasting rack. flip after ten minutes. perfectly cooked dark meat, moist breasts and crispy skin every time. i like to throw some onions underneath as well, they caramelize in the chicken juice.

mmm...chicken juice.

Anonymous said...

Damn - now I have that song stuck in my head! Your evil plot worked.

moowiesqrd said...

Hi Carol... I laughed my ass off at your post, esp. the part about an elephant violating a chicken. Nearly snorted my dinner out of my nose. Anyhoo, great post and I completely agree with your take on PS calling himself a "chef". Also, grammatical mistakes drive me batty.

I've made Keller's roast chicken recipe before and it's gorgeous. I'm a dark meat fan and usually leave the white meat to The Mister.

He said the breast was too moist... yeah, you read correctly. I am totally not sure how that's a bad thing.

AJ said...

I just listed to that same podcast earlier this evening and the entire time the chef was talking I was thinking "what is tusking a chicken?" I'm glad I wasn't the only one who kept thinking, don't you mean "trussing?"

And I love your site. Its fun to see someone taking on Thomas Keller's laborious recipes.

Anonymous said...

Why do you do it at 375 degrees? Keller does it at 450 degrees in the recipe you link to (and in 30-40 minutes less time). And I think his other Bouchon recipe, with the brined chicken, is at 475 degrees.

I always did it at 375-400, but have now started doing it his way. I think his way is indeed better--ready faster, crispier skin, AND juicier meat.

E said...

I did exactly this yesterday afternoon, and it was really great. Usually I do the butter, herbed butter, dijon/herb thing (one of those, lol, not all), so I was thinking it would be blah. But it was absolutely the perfect thing for dinner. We actually ate it cool w/green salad & fresh bread. The leftovers are even better :)

Spring said...

I love the chicken butt! But I've never found anyone else that remotely liked it, and thought it was a part that usually didn't get eaten. I usually munch on it while I cut up the rest of the chicken. Instead of carving, I like to cut the chicken into quarters with my chicken shears - it's more fun to eat that way for me.

I'll need to try your super simple version next time, but so far the recipe that's always given me the best results is from the Herbfarm cookbook. Trussed, some slivers of garlic and either fresh bay leaves or small sprigs of thyme under the skin and in the cavity. Olive oil and salt on the outside and roasted at 400 degrees. The skin is always just the right amount of crispy, and sooo delicious!

I'll often throw some potatoes in the bottom of the pan too. My husband and I then usually eat the back quarters and save the front quarters (where it's mostly white meat) for leftovers. And since the skin never tastes as good as when it's fresh out of the oven, we eat all of that right away too.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god. I've never had a chicken actually turn out right. Apparently I always undercook them (60 minutes at 350 degrees)! I was really worried that 90 minutes was too long, but I decided to trust, and it was the best chicken I've ever made!! Who knew?!
Thanks Carol!

melissa said...

I finally came here to read what the "tusking" joke was about. it's made its way all over but I finally popped over when I saw you mention it again on claudia's page.

oh.my.gawd.

in the meantime, next time I, er, truss and roast a chicken, which I do every couple of weeks, I will try it with just salt and pepper. I'll trust ya. ;)

nicole said...

I read you in my rss reader and am so behind that I finally got to this (ironically, I ate at Bouchon the weekend you posted this and I trussed a chicken this past weekend so that was too many things going on not to comment!) and had to click through to skim the comments before reading the whole thing. I was so disappointed that there wasn't a comment from Paul Shoemaker! Is he not that vain? Did he find you too intimidating? Inquiring minds want to know....

Nicole (who finally de-lurks with a comment!)

Anonymous said...

shoemaker is now the chef at bastide

Jason from Oz said...

we call the chicken butt the "parson's nose" down here (in australia). and don't worry, we have a chef here to insists a tagine is actually called a "tangine".
anyway, back to the chicken. i do the same thing, but for the first half of the cooking i put it breast-down in the baking dish, that way the breast meat stays really moist and u have less chance for the jus to run out of the chicken. but i like your recipe. good food is simple. nice one.