I have three cookbooks at home (well, three western cookbooks) – one is Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook , Thomas Keller’s beautiful ad hoc at home (which I’d love to cook through recipe by recipe, if I didn’t live in Shanghai) and *cough* The Naked Chef.
All three of these cookbooks talk about roasting a chicken – further to that, Bourdain maintains that if you cannot roast a chicken, you really shouldn’t call yourself a cook. Well, I’d never roasted a chicken before, but at my local Lianhua, whole chickens are only about 20 rmb, so I bought one and grabbed my Keller and Bourdain.
While both of them highlight roast chicken, they completely disagree on the methods. Keller views crispy skin as the most important part of a roast chicken and emphasizes that you should keep your chicken absolutely dry – no brine, no butter – just put it in the oven. I like my chicken meat with a little bit of moistness, so I opted to use a combination of Oliver and Bourdain’s recipes – and came out with this
Even without trussing and a butchering mishap (as you can see, I lost the lower part of the drumsticks chopping off the chicken feet) – I was able to turn out a tasty and reasonably moist chicken from my tiny counter top oven the very first time. With the heating elements so close to the tray, I need to be careful as the chicken caramelizes so very fast, so next time I’ll cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep from crisping so fast.