I have a friend named Jenna. She and I share many interests: long aimless walks through Target, good beer, Caribbean cruises and chicken skin. Oh, chicken skin…We love nothing more than sneaking bits of it, peeling it off before the bird is even carved. And it must be crispy — that is an absolute must! — and a wee bit salty.
But even though we love the same thing, we have two very different ways of getting the same result. I have eaten her roasted chicken — rubbed in butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, and baked until it’s golden. And I can say for sure that the skin is succulent and crunchy — just as it should be — and the meat is juicy and delicious.
Yet I take a different approach, one that manages to call for one less ingredient. Here’s how it became my favorite.
I had always rubbed my chickens before, sometimes even stuffing them with lemon and garlic. And they were good, I mean, really truly good. But then one day, I stumbled upon Thomas Keller’s recipe for the best roasted chicken and I was intrigued. Because it called for three things: a chicken, salt and pepper. That’s it!
Keller’s reason for not rubbing his chicken with any butter or oils is because the moisture creates steam which makes the skin not as crispy. While I’m not sure how big of a deal a little steam is (as I mentioned Jenna’s birds come out crunchy). But I’m all for not getting my hands buttery, and hey, it’s Thomas Keller. Who’s going to argue with him?
Especially when he goes on to discuss his favorite parts of the roasted chicken. I seriously love this part: “I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I’m cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip—until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook’s rewards.”
My first thought was absolutely! The oyster is my favorite part of the chicken. But the chicken butt? I had never even contemplated that. When I made this for the first time though, and ate the tiny bit of greasy goodness, that chicken butt etched itself into my mind. I’ve been a slave to it ever since. It is so. freaking. good.
So here we go, Thomas Keller style:
Truss your bird:
Roast your bird:
Ogle your bird:
Enjoy your bird:
I’ve now made this chicken numerous times and I have to say it’s as amazing as it is easy to make. The skin is crispy — the wing mid joints are particularly phenomenal — and the meat is tender and juicy. If I was in the kitchen with Thomas Keller, I would certainly give him one of the oysters to enjoy — after all he is one of the world’s best chefs and it is his recipe.
But the chicken butt? Oh hell no, that’s all mine!
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