I've been thinking about roasting a chicken lately, after stumbling across Thomas Keller's roasted chicken recipe on the interwebs about a week back. As providence would have it, I ran "afowl" (heh, heh) of an interesting idea this weekend at my neighbors' holiday gift exchange party, which kicked this project into gear.
Said neighbors are a couple who live just down the hall in my apartment building, and one half of the couple, Nicolas, is from Limoges, in the Limousin region of France (the other half is Jessica, who hails from Tacoma). Nic mentioned that in Limoges, when they roast a chicken, they put a slice of bread underneath it in the roasting pan to soak up the juices. Which sounded pretty damn good to me...
The recipe for the chicken itself, as noted above, is Keller's, and it's a remarkably simple recipe, with only three ingredients. I will, of course, be sharing it below, but you can find my source material here.
First, you'll start with a chicken. I went with a free range fryer (if you go with a roaster, which is a larger, older and tougher bird, you'll probably want to cook it a bit longer than I cooked my fryer) from New Seasons:
For the toast, I went with a baguette, also from New Seasons, and sliced it on the bias. I also dried the slices out in my toaster oven. I should note here that I did not *toast* them, I only dried them out. The reason for this, and also the reason for the dearth of ingredients in Keller's recipe (i.e. no onions, garlic, apple, lemon, etc. stuffed inside the chicken cavity) is to minimize any steam in the oven once the roasting process is underway.
Lay your sliced bread in the roasting pan, underneath the rack:
Now you'll want to get to work on the chicken. Take it out of the fridge well ahead of time to bring it to room temperature, and make sure it's completely dry, both inside and out. Coat the cavity liberally with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Then do the same to both sides of the outside:
Now you'll truss the chicken with some kitchen twine, which is actually pretty easy (refer to link above for instructions):
Preheat your oven to 450 F, place the chicken on the rack in the roasting pan, and once the oven's up to temperature, place the whole thing in and leave it be. After 50 minutes, take it out and check the temperature, in the space between the breast and thigh. If it's 165F, it's done. If not, put it back in until it is. Once it's done, let it sit for at least fifteen minutes before carving. This is what it'll look like:
And here's what the toast itself will look like:
The middle slices were pretty much perfect, and just as Nic described them: At once crispy and moist, and imbued with essence of chicken. The outer slices, however, were a bit dry and didn't soak up much of the chicken drippings. Next time, I'll probably pack them a little closer so that they're all directly underneath the chicken. The bird itself was spot on. The skin was crispy, none of the meat was dry, and the salt and pepper infused into the meat and gave it just enough seasoning.
So, there you have it: Roasted Chicken and Toast á la Limoges. Give it a try! And enjoy...