When I am sick hungry but feel like I can wait an hour, I roast a chicken. It’s like my goto recipe. The one when I don’t wanna think, I just wanna eat something beautiful and incredibly easy to do. Like microwaving frozen pies or making tuna mayo sandwiches. The recipe is as follows.

Pick a good bird, organic schmorganic. One that weighs around a kilo is ideal.
Pre heat oven to at least 250 degrees celsius.
Dry the bird with paper towels then truss it well.
Throw salt evenly over the breast.
Put it in the hot oven.
Wait an hour.
Profit.

How I came across this method is sorta how I decided I wanted to become a chef. I was down and out, jobless and lazy as shit, mostly just whiling my time away. I just happened to be in a library and this was like 3 years ago or whatever. In between glancing pretentiously at stuff by Sartre and Derrida (I’m serious, this happened), I also gazed longingly at the cookbooks section. I suppose when you’re down, you get hungry and maybe you wanna cook. Which I certainly did. One of the first cookbooks I borrowed was Bouchon. I had no clue who Thomas Keller was at the time, I just flipped through and liked the pictures. I think I was sold on the profiteroles or whatever. I understand how snooty it sounds at this point lol! Anyway, I borrowed the book and brought it home. Then I duly followed the first recipe. Which is abbreviated above and the rest is history.

The “recipe” isn’t so much a recipe as it was a recipe. Um. I mean, not a detailed script dictating what to do and how to do it. Moreso an idea, a philosophy in and of itself. One about simplicity. I mean, what’s complicated about sticking a bird into a hot oven? You don’t baste it, you don’t sear it beforehand, you don’t need to slab butter under the skin, you don’t gotta buy a truffle and make a reduction or pacojet the essence of the crushed bones into a quenelle of foam whilst nitro-ing the skin into a crisp. You stick it in an oven.

The result is marvellous. The concept is so simple. High, dry heat. The skin gets nice and crisp because the salt draws out moisture and forms a sort of shell and because the heat is high. The flesh is super tender, breast, thighs whatever. Juicy and delicious. Mostly because you truss it and the salt crusted skin, I suppose, also helps somehow in reducing moisture loss as it forms a sort of ceiling. The other key ingredient is time. The anticipation and the unraveling and the immediate consumption. If you left the chicken too long after it cooked, it would be boring. But because I ALWAYS devour the beast and I typically do the whole bird 5 minutes after it pops out the oven, I am already predisposed towards an enjoyable meal. Of course, these are mere details. It all falls into place because it just does. You don’t have to worry about x factors or y possibilities. Just stick the bird in the oven.

Actually, the only thing I’d add is the use of a wire rack so the chicken fat can drip off and the bottom of the bird stays drier.

If you want to impress your girl and show that you can cook. This is it. All you need to do is try it once first and learn how to maybe truss the chicken via youtube and how to cut up the bird after it’s done. Seriously it’s so damn easy even if you serve it with some McDonald’s fries or whatever, your girl would call you Bocuse as she um, enjoys her meal. Like I said, I keep it extremely minimal. Just the bird. In the oven. I eat barbarian steez. Bare hands and a box of tissues. That’s got some suggestive undertones there but read what you will.

I guess Thomas Keller saved my life. Dayum. I got comfort outta one of the most comfort food recipes in the world plus I managed to squeeze in some existentialist bullcrap into the story and even sexual innuendo.

Advertisements