Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Look no further roast chicken

Back when I was living in Algeria, it feels like ages ago yet it was only less than seven years ago, we had a nearby butcher specializing and selling only chicken and chicken derived products: besides uncooked chicken (whole, cut up, butterflied, deboned…) they had chicken pâté with pistachios, chicken pies and quiches, pastilla and spicy samsa, both made with homemade brick dough, bologna, chicken sausages, and their famous rotisserie chicken, which was beloved in the whole neighborhood. If you had the chance to get their rotisserie chicken, which you would have to wake up early for, you will bring to your table much more than just a roasted bird with crispy skin. The butcher gives you in a shallow tray, nestled underneath the chicken, some green olives swimming  in a tick, saffron colored sauce with caramelized onions and golden potatoes that have been cooked (almost fried) in the chicken drippings of the rotisserie. Heavenly! All you might add to this meal is a green salad and a piece of bread.

Back home, the sauce with the olives can be duplicated, but the chicken is a different story: the skin is never crispy, the breast dries out and the thighs are sometimes undercooked. Until I came upon Thomas Keller technique for perfect roast chicken; his philosophy is pretty simple, straightforward and 100% foolproof: the drier the meat, the crispier the skin, the better the roast chicken. All he does is pat dry the chicken with paper towel, season it inside and out with salt and pepper and roast it in a heavy skillet for almost an hour without basting or disturbing until crispy and irresistible. I added my touch of back-home-rotisserie-chicken with spices like saffron, turmeric and ginger and paprika which adds warmth and a lovely aroma to the already delicious chicken. You can also use Ras el hanout for the spices listed below. Really, don’t wait seven years, bring a chicken home today for dinner and let it roast itself for you and your family.

Spice rubbed roast chicken

cooking technique inspired by Thomas Keller

One 2- to 3-pound farm-raised chicken
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp saffron
1 tbsp canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Unsalted butter

Algerian Ras el hanout can be substituted for the spices

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. Mix the canola oil with the spices and set aside.

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— 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), then rub the spice mixture all over the chicken. 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. Roast it until it's done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven. Baste the chicken with the juices and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Cut up the chicken. Slather the meat with some melted butter and serve immediately.


browniegirl said...

Aaaaah sweet Warda-Rose, it has been a long time since I made a visit to your delightful blog, and to my delight it is as always, beautiful as you are! It is breakfast time here, on a cold dull morning with rain clouds threatening, and I am now feeling like this simple delicious chicken! I can feel the crunch of that crispy skin between my teeth and I am hungry! I do hope your girls are doing well. Kenza must be growing so fast at this stage. I am sorry I have not been around. Organizing food bloggers conferences has become a full time "occupation" for me and visiting blogs has taken the back stage. But hardly a day goes by that I do not think of you. It is so good to see you back blogging again!Sending warm hugs from Cape Town, Colleen xx

Yenta Mary said...

Oh, I can practically taste and smell that chicken from here! And it's making my toast and fruit salad look pitiful this morning ... :) This looks just amazing!

Lisa said...

I will definitely be trying this one. It looks fabulous and is so deceptively simple.

Aisha said...

Great spice mix! And the pictures are lovely! I follow another technique for roast chicken. It involves, slipping herbs/salt/spices under the skin over the breasts and thighs, and letting it sit in the fridge overnight. That sort of acts as a brine which results in juicier meats, and leaving it in the fridge overnight dries out the skin a bit too, which is similar to your concept. Roasting is done just as simply as yours. I've used parsley, thyme and other herbs and have always had great results. But I'm going to try your spice mix next. You see, I like herbed foods, but for my husband, who is from the Gulf, herbs aren't strong enough. He prefers more spiced dishes. When I make my grandma's tagine and harira recipes, he loves. But my herbed roast chicken was "just okay". So thanks for the inspiration :)

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. I do not eat meat but I love your recipes and photos. Please keep them coming and think about posting video's on youtube. You are filled with so much talent. God Bless your soul!

Warda said...

- Colleen, sweet lady, how are you? it is so good to hear from you again all the way from Cape Town. I often think about you and your grandkids. I hope life is being nice to you and your loved ones. Hugs to you, Colleen!

- Yenta, thank you! :)

- Aisha, Welcome! seriously who can resist harira and tagines? certainly not me! Your recipe sounds lovely and you'e right in that the secret to a crusty chicken is how well the chicken is dried. After what the variations are endless.what kind of spices do you use?

- Anonymous, thank you for your words. It may sound cheesy, but what fills my heart with joy and makes me come back to my blog is the simple concept of sharing and bringing a small part of my life to people's lives and tables. So thank YOU for reading! :)

Tina said...

The chicken on the picture seems delicious;)

Cant wait to try it out...

Aisha said...

Spices? Oo boy! Really depends on what kind of dish I'm making. If it's Pakistani, it usually revolves around a turmeric/coriander/cumin/red chilli/fresh ginger/fresh garlic base, with addition of garam masala or asafoetida or madras curry powder according to the dish. For Gulf dishes, I have my mother-in-law's spice mix (they call it "bzaar"), from the smell, I guess it's a mix of turmeric/cumin/coriander/black pepper and maybe ginger powder. I also love to use black lemon powder in Gulf or Persian dishes, and of course, saffron. Zaatar is a staple I sprinkle anywhere when I have no other inspiration in simple everyday dishes. Tagines usually revolve around a cinnamon/ginger powder/saffron base. And my grandma's harira recipe calls for turmeric/cumin/coriander/ginger/black pepper/caraway. Those are my basics (oh yeah, and cinnamon and red chilli in hot chocolate, and nutmeg in pretty much any form of gratin). I love to play around with spices and I have a completely unreasonable amount of them considering the size of my kitchen. I could go on and on but would end up boring everyone around, so I'll be polite and stop now. But if you would like to discuss this further, I'd be glad to!

E said...

Oh man, roast chicken Thomas Keller´s way is the absolute best. Adding a spice rub sounds great-- now I´m curious to see if I can use it to approximate Peruvian rotisserie chicken which I´ve been missing so from when I lived in the middle of a Peruvian expat community. I hadn´t been by your blog in awhile, glad to see you´re back!

Warda said...

- Aisha, you got me intrigued by using cumin in harira.. and black lemon powder is something I've never heard of.Spices are such a wonderful addition to life and dishes. Thank you for sharing all of yours.

-E, Just the words "Peruvian rotisserie chicken" make me want to take a trip to Peru! What makes different from a traditional rotisserie chicken?

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Oh my! What a stunning recipe, and I love the story too. Roast chicken is my go-to, something I make once, even twice a week. I am always on the look out for new recipes, and this is absolutely irresistible. Thank you!!

greenbusinessonly said...

Sounds great…thinking of trying at home. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Anonymous said...

Please go on youtube or publish a cookbook. What do you make for breakfast? God Bless you and your amazing talent! Wish you were in NYC.

Warda said...

- Anonymous, hopefully one day, when I'll find an agent that would like to work with me, I would love to publish a cookbook on Algerian cuisine. Thank you for your kind words. For breakfast, it depends. For everyday breakfast we just have tartines with butter and jam and on weekends MY HUSBAND IS THE MASTER OF Baghrir, which is an Algerian/Moroccan pancake that cooks only on side and is very light and airy. Or M'semmen, which I have on this site. There is also a breakfast category on the right side of the blog where you an find many other breakfast recipes. :) Happy cooking!

Anonymous said...

Such a wonderful blog. Everything looks so delicious. I was wondering if you might share the recipe for the saffron colored sauce with olives, caramelized onions and golden potatoes.