Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ahh Vacation!

I am officially on vacation for the next two days. Yes I know it's not *that* long but I'll take what I can get! I have glorious plans for the next two days, plus the weekend; cooking delicious meals, baking, organizing my son's clothes that no longer fit him, cleaning out the closets in our home, spending quality time with the kids and drinking some wine. This afternoon I will be roasting a chicken and making a tomato and mozzarella salad. The roasted chicken is from Anthony Bourdain's cookbook; Les Halles Cookbook. I really love everything about this man, other than the obvious that he is very handsome, I love how he is straightforward (recently called out Paula Dean! I'm sure her butter flavored blood boiled) I love his passion for food, cultures and trying new things.

Here's his recipe for Poulet Roti

Anthony Bourdain's Poulet Roti (French Style Roast Chicken with Herb Butter) Recipe
(Recipe adapted from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook)
Serves 2

"Poulet Roti - That's Roast Chicken, numbnuts! And if you can't properly roast a damn chicken then you are one helpless, hopeless, sorry-ass bivalve in an apron. Take that apron off, wrap it around your neck, and hang yourself. You do not deserve to wear the proud garment of the generations of hardworking, dedicated cooks. Turn in those clogs, too.

Perhaps I'm being a little unfair. Perhaps I'm being unreasonable. Given that ninety-five percent of the chickens roasted in this country are clearly the result of insensitive and murderous overcooking by food-hating orangutans, why should I expect you to know how to roast a damn bird? Most people seem to think that if you just scatter some salt and pepper and, God forbid, paprika on a chicken, then throw them, legs askew, into an oven and cook every bit of blood and moisture out of him - that that's roasting a chicken. Hell, most people figure that if the crispy skin tastes good, and there's no yucky blood or pink stuff near the bone, that's a fine roast chicken. It's not. This is the kind of thinking that makes fried batter a favourite menu item in this country. This is the kind of dangerously low expectation that explains the Chicken McNugget. A good-quality chicken, of noble birth and upbringing, respectfully prepared by someone who loves and understands it, is a beautiful thing. Many chefs claim to be able to tell everything about a prospective cook by how he or she roasts a chicken - and I can well believe it.

There are many ways to roast a chicken. Put twelve chefs in a room, with the mission of defining once and for all how best to roast a chicken, and you will never get agreement. Only spirited discussion, some heavy drinking, and maybe fisticuffs. But this recipe works for us at Les Halles. It's simple, it's good, it requires minimal technique - and the possibilities of failure are few. Yes, you can sear the skin of the chicken in a pan before roasting. Yes, you can sear the skin, then vacuum-seal the bird, then roast it slowly. Yes, you can - and should (if you know how) - truss a bird up like Betty Page. But this bird will do. It'll do fine.

Before we begin we should talk about the chicken. Perhaps you think that a drugged-up supermarket bird that's spent its whole life jammed into a cramped pen with a bunch of similarly unhealthy specimens, eating its neighbour's droppings (really!), is adequate for your kitchen. It is decidedly not. Fortunately for you, free-range chickens are becoming more widely available every day. If not, there are kosher chickens to be had. You want them. Chicken is not a medium for sauce. Chicken should taste like chicken. Understand also that legs and breasts cook at slightly different rates. In your zeal to make sure that there is no pink (eek!) or red (oooohh!) anywhere in the legs, you are often criminally overcooking your breasts. Find a happy medium. A little pink color by the thigh bone does not necessarily mean you are eating rare poultry.

Okay. Let's go..."


1 whole chicken, about 4 lbs (1.8 kg), giblets reserved
Salt (preferably sea salt) and freshly crushed black pepper
1/2 lemon
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
1 sprig of fresh rosemary (do not get that dried trash anywhere near my bird!)
1 sprig of fresh thyme (What did I just say?)
2 tbsp (28 g) herb butter (see recipe at bottom of post)
3 tbsp (42 g) butter, softened
1 1/2 cup (340 ml) white wine
A little chopped flat parsley


Flameproof roasting pan
Basting brush
Wooden spoon
Serving platter
Sauceboat or gooseneck


Prep the chicken

1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Cut off the wing tips, leaving the last joint only. With fingers, remove excess fat from the chicken's inside cavity. Trim off excess skin at the neck (and at the head, if you've bought a head-on bird in Chinatown; good for you, by the way, if you did). You removed the giblets packet, right? You'd better have, 'cause you're gonna need them. Wash the inside of the chicken thoroughly with cold running water. Allow to dry. Season the inside cavity with salt and pepper.

2. Okay... now, I'm not going to try and explain how to truss a chicken with twine - as much fun as that is. Here's a shortcut instead. First: lie on your back on the floor, put your knees together, and draw them both up to your chest with your arms. Press them against your chest. You should look pretty funny down there - but that's exactly the position I want you to put your chicken in. Knees up, ass out.

3. Undignified, but effective. Now, take a paring knife and just below the end of the chicken's legs (approximately below where your heels would be), poke a small hole on each side, and tuck the leg carefully inside,pinioning the legs in a position approximately what you just did on the floor. Try not to tear the skin, okay? Now gently give the outside of your bird a good rubdown with salt and pepper. All over, Don't miss any spots. Put the lemon half, half of the onion, the rosemary, and the thyme inside the chicken cavity.

4. Carefully taking hold of the edge of the skin on each side of the chicken, lift the skin and gently push a tablespoon of herb butter underneath, prodding it along so that one lump of herb butter sits on each side of the bird's breastbone. Rub the outside of the chicken with about half of the plain (softened) butter. Gently, Don't rip the freaking skin!

Cook the chicken

1. Remove the giblets from the bag and place them and the remaining half of the onion in the center of the roasting pan. Place the chicken on top of same. Pour 1/2 cup (110ml) of white wine into the pan and roast for 30 minutes, basting occasionally with the fat and butter that collects. When you baste, it's a very good idea to move the roasting pan around the oven a little, even rotating it, as many ovens have "hot spots" that might color or cook your bird unevenly.

2. After 30 minutes, crank the oven temperature up to 450F (230C) and cook for another 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving. If you're worried about undercooking, with the point of a small knife or with a skewer or a cake tester, you can poke the fat part of the thigh. If the liquid that runs out is clear - not pink or red - your bird is cooked.


1. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over high heat. Stir in the remaining wine and scape the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon to dislodge the fond (the brown bits). Bring the wine to a boil and cook until it's reduced by half. Discard the giblets and onion and whisk in the remaining softened butter. Stir in the parsley, season with salt and pepper, and serve alongside the chicken in a boat or gooseneck.

2. Note: If you are unhappy or insecure about your sauce, yank a cube of frozen dark chicken stock out of the freezer and chuck that in with the wine. Using commercial broth or base, in this instance, would destroy all your good work to this point - a crime against food, God, and man.

Herb Butter Recipe
Yields approximately 3/4 cup (170g)


1/2 cup (110 g) butter, softened
1 tbsp (14 g) fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tbsp (14 g) fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp (7 g) fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp (7 g) fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp (7 g) honey
Pinch of salt
Pinch of finely ground white pepper


Mixing bowl
Wooden spoon
Plastic wrap


1. Combine all the ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix well with the wooden spoon. Gently roll the mixture into a log about the same length and width as a stick of butter. Roll tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until use.

And if all my plans for my vacation don't happen, at least I have a delicious chicken to eat! (pictures to follow...!)

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