Monday, January 6, 2014

The Best Roast Chicken Ever?

A while back, BuzzFeed held a March Madness contest (in October) to determine the best Roast Chicken Recipe.
Here’s how it went down: 

BuzzFeed Food editors chose eight famous roast chicken recipes and randomly seeded them in a single-elimination bracket. For each matchup, the two competing chickens were cooked in separate ovens exactly as the recipe prescribed.* Every matchup was decided by a blind taste test of both white and dark meat from each chicken, marked only as “Chicken 1” and “Chicken 2.” 

*Since the goal of this tournament was to find the most delicious method of roasting a chicken, each chicken was served plain, with no sauce. Therefore, if a recipe called for a sauce or au jus, that part of the recipe was ignored.
Here were the contestants:
  1. Glamour's Engagement Chicken - because evidently it's so good, that when you make it, your man will propose.
  2. The Food Lab's Roasted Butterflied Chicken
  3. Thomas Keller's Chicken
  4. Jamie Oliver's Chicken
  5. Martha Stewart's Chicken
  6. Judy Rodger's Chicken
  7. The Pioneer Woman's Chicken
  8. Julia Child's Chicken
In the opening round, 1 beat 2; 3 beat 4; 6 beat 5 in a landslide (that just warms my heart); and 8 beat 7 (which upsets me).  In the second round, Keller beat Engagement and Judy was defeated by Julia.  In the finals - Thomas Keller beat Julia Child.

Simple Roast Chicken
Thomas Keller - Epicurious, October 2004

yield Makes 2 to 4 servings
EPICURIOUS EDITORS' NOTE: This simple roast chicken recipe by legendary chef Thomas Keller is one of the top-rated chicken recipes on Epicurious. It's an essential, delicious chicken recipe any home cook can master and enjoy.
  • One 2- to 3-pound farm-raised chicken 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)
  • Unsalted butter 
  • Dijon mustard 

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.

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.

Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. 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. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be super-elegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You'll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it's so good.

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