Roasted Chicken for the Road

A few months ago I was leaving for a weeklong business trip to Alabama. KP had the day off and wanted to surprise me with a delicious homemade dinner before I hit the road. I came home from work and walked into the yard of our little casita to find a candle lit table set for two, and the delicious scent of roasted meat and herbs filled the air.  I’m spoiled, I know!

My nose led me straight to the kitchen to figure out what KP had been up to all day. Low and behold I find a whole roasted chicken and popovers! This however was not just any roasted chicken but Thomas Keller’s favorite Bouchon roasted chicken. Drool.  The chicken’s skin was perfectly crispy, and the meat was oh so tender and juicy. Shortly after digging into the bird we had both cast our manners aside and were eating straight off the bone and had delicious chicken juices dripping down our arms. It was that good.

Want to know the best part?  There are only 3 required ingredients and about 30 minutes of active prep time. Plus, there are always plenty of leftovers to top your lunchtime salads or throw in a pot of tortilla soup.

Right now there is a Tupperware filled with roast chicken sitting in the fridge and I’m hitting the road once again. This time to Las Vegas for Interbike! Interbike is the cycling industries biggest North American trade show, and after 3 years of diligently paying my dues I’m headed to the big event. I’m armed with a list of restaurants and vendors to check out and I couldn’t be more excited. Follow me on Twitter for live updates from the 3 days cycling geek extravaganza!

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Thomas Keller’s favorite Simple Roast Chicken
Recipe is copied from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Cookbook

One 2-3 pound farm raised chicken
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced thyme
Unsalted butter (optional)
Dijon mustard (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better. 

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it's a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.

To truss the chicken, place one chicken on a tray with the legs towards you. Tuck the wing tips under the bird. Cut a piece of kitchen twine about 3 feet long and center it on top of the neck end of the breast. Lift the neck end of the bird and pull the twine down around the wings and under the chicken, then bring the ends up over the breast, towards you, and knot the twine, pulling it tight to plump the breast. Bring the ends of the twine around the ends of the drumsticks and straight up. Tie as before to pull the drumsticks together and form a compact bird; tie again to secure the knot.

Now, salt the chicken—I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it's cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone—I don't baste it, I don't add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don't want. Roast it until it's done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.


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