As the weather continues to chill in the most uninviting of ways, I find myself turning more and more to comfort foods – like soups, and stews, and roasts!
Think of your favourite blanket… now add a layer of fluff to it… also, maybe an open fireplace and a mug of hot chocolate… and a kitten on your lap!
BAM! Now we’re talking.
Here’s how to nail your roast chicken every time:
1. Quality counts.
This can be said for all ingredients of course, but is paramount when it comes to poultry. Invest in the best chicken you can afford – free range, ideally organic, grass-fed if possible. Ethical eating aside (this goes without saying at Prahran as far as I’m concerned) the difference in flavour is totally worth the extra spend. A chicken that’s been allowed to pasture as nature intended, and had a longer, happier life, will yield a much tastier result. When you start with a quality chook, there’s very little you can do – lest you burn it – to stuff it up.
2. Size does matter.
No matter how many people you’re feeding, try and buy a larger sized chook. This means more meat on a similar frame – which is better value, but also results in a more tender finish. Chicken sandwiches never go astray either.
3. Stuff it.
Filling the cavity of the chook will mean a more evenly cooked breast and can help to build flavour. A trusty lemon never goes astray, nor do some sprigs of thyme and maybe a couple of smashed garlic cloves.
4. Truss me.
It’s not as daunting as you think. The aim with the truss is to help to maintain the shape of the end result, as well as keeping the end of the drumsticks from overcooking. You can use kitchen twine, those fancy looking trussing bands from Essential Ingredient or try creating your own truss nooks in the chicken’s skin. Simply make a 1cm incision into the skin just above the Parson’s Nose (the chicken’s bum) and tuck the drumstick bone into it.
5. Start with a gentle steam.
Roast the chicken on a rack with half a cup of water underneath. Cover with foil for the first 40 minutes of cooking and allow the skin to steam onto the meat. Then, once you take the chicken out for its first flip, you can remove the foil and allow the skin to crisp up without bubbling ferociously and ruining your money shot.
As a general rule, it’s 30min per every 500g of chicken. I start the oven at 220C, then drop it to 190C after the first turn. Turn every 30-40 mins if you can be bothered – it does yield a more even result, but the world won’t end if you don’t turn. Using a bundt pan to stand the chicken up on is another option, and circumvents the need for stuffing (but I do love the flavour you get from stuff in there, so a couple of stray garlic cloves won’t go unrewarded.
For better results (if you can wait) rest the chicken for at least 15-20 mins to allow the residual heat to finish off any pink bits. Rest it uncovered to prevent ‘sweaty skin’.
It’s truffle season, my friends! If you’re feeling indulgent, head over to Damian Pike’s stall and pick up some truffle butter. Slice it into 8ths, freeze it for about an hour, then stuff said truffle butter under the skin of your chook before you cook it. It’ll make all of this blustery weather seem worth it.
Originally published via Prahran Market
© 2017 Alice Zaslavsky