Posts Tagged ‘Poulet Rôti’
September 30th, 2011 | Rachel
Roasted chicken dinner I used to bribe my friend into helping me clean my apartment
The word on the street is that the test of a true chef is his or her roasted chicken (I can’t find a good cite for this statement but I swear I’m not making it up), and I have been determined to prove myself competent on this seemingly simple dish.
So many times have I slathered butter in the internal cavity of a raw chicken and tied its legs together into a tight bundle of poultry.
So many times have I hovered over a hot oven, obediently basting these baking bird bodies every 8-10 minutes and burning my fingers as I religiously go through the gymnastics of five minutes on the left side, five minutes on the right side, five minutes on the back side, thirty minutes on the left side, thirty minutes on the right side, and twenty minutes on the back side.
Every time, the chicken was a perfect toasted golden brown and juicy on the inside.
But the skin was not crispy.
Curses, ye gods of the French cuisine!
I was reduced to lamenting my failures through poetry:Crispy roasted hen, My elusive great white whale. Why can’t you be mine? Succulent chicken, Why is your skin not crispy? Only Julia knows. Oh, forgetfulness, That pesky paper towel! Dry your chicken first.
Finally, during the weekend of Hurricane Irene, having plenty of free time trapped indoors and with my two friends as captive dinner guests, I tried once more.
This time I remembered to dry the chicken first.
Hurricane roasted chicken
It was a textbook-perfect success.
The benefit of cooking this same recipe six times now (other than finally remembering to perform that crucial step) is that I have the whole process memorized.
You don’t have to use Julia Child’s labor-intensive protocol, but if you are a friend of the kitchen, you should have a roasted chicken recipe in your back pocket that you can whip out should a hurricane force you indoors for 48 hours.
It is also good for boyfriends or girlfriends or just friends or anyone else you want to treat to something special.
April 19th, 2011 | Rachel
This weekend I finally got to share some french cooking with my favorite dinner companion. I wasn’t planning on cooking this weekend (the highlight of the weekend involved a frozen drink machine and a recipe for a Lemon Whiskey Slush — which is even better with lime juice), but Steve and I decided to brave the crowds at Whole Foods to pick up some dinner ingredients.
For those of you who do not live in New York City, a trip to Whole Foods — particularly on a Sunday evening — is not for the feint of heart. A sign at the check out counter listing the best and worst times to shop adeptly described it as “frenetic.” We managed to navigate our miniature shopping cart through the narrow aisles full pairs and trios of shoppers (Whole Foods is no place to be seen alone on a Sunday evening), and eventually ran into a wall of people dividing the bakery from the deli. That was one of the check out lines. There were three of such lines, each comprised of at least 25 people who were funneled into a color coded holding pen. At that point we waited for a screen to tell us which of the 40 check out counters to go to.
Since this dinner was unplanned, I wasn’t able to reference my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. However, the upside about making the same dish several times in a row (this was my third roasted chicken in the past month) is you pretty much memorize it. I almost pulled of this roasted chicken from memory without a hitch, but I forgot to pick up some sort of stock to make a light sauce at the end.
And I forgot to put salt on the chicken each time I flipped it.
I also forgot to dry the chicken before I slathered it in butter.
I also forgot to make note of what time I put the bird in the oven and cooked one side more than the other…. I guess I forgot to do a lot of things.
I did not forget to buy cooking twine to tie the birdie’s legs together (although Julia Child prefers to use a mattress needle to sew her chicken into a tight bundle). I also did not forget how to roast the tomatoes, which make an excellent, fresh side dish.
Since several people have asked for recipes, perhaps I will start sharing some:
Prepping the tomatoes for roasting (this photo is from my first attempt… this past time I used Roma tomatoes)
Julia Child’s Roasted Tomatoes (a rough paraphrase): Select tomatoes less than 2″ diameter. Cut out the stems an sprinkle salt and pepper in the cavity. Paint with olive oil and place stem side down in a baking dish (I’ve been using round casserole dishes). Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until skin starts to split. Serve immediately.
Although many of Julia’s recipes involve smothering your main ingredient in butter or cream, others are designed to showcase the essence of the meat or vegetable. If you are ever at a farmers market and come across a table of small, ripe, homegrown tomatoes, this is what you need to do with them.
My sous chef for the evening, Steve
Patiently waiting for the chicken to finish (due to a late start we ended up eating close to 11pm… woops)
One more golden-brown chicken to add to the archives
Third time was not the charm, unfortunately. Although the color was near perfect, the texture of the skin was not. By the time I realized I hadn’t properly dried the chicken, I had already smeared it with butter. I was hoping the oven, which was far more powerful than the Easy Bake Oven in my apartment, would compensate for this omission, but no dice. The inside, thankfully, was still near perfect
And so, after battling the crowds at Whole Foods and schlepping our groceries onto the subway, Steve finally got to try some of my (beginner) French cooking.
Carving the bird
One of these days I’ll get it right. And one of these days I’ll be brave enough to try a French dessert.
April 5th, 2011 | Rachel
I gave the chicken another try. If I hadn’t worked until midnight tonight, I was going to give a third attempt. In fact, I am going to keep roasting chickens until I figure out how to achieve a perfect, crispy skin.
Yesterday, my friend Maria and I attended a wine class at New York Vintners. This wine shop shows up on Groupon every now and then, and they let you stock up on half-off wine classes. Yesterday’s class was entitled “Bad Ass Reds.” We sampled some bold reds from around the globe, and I walked away with eight bottles of wine for my meager collection (an underground wine cellar is on the list of must-haves for my French maison). I also learned that the Bandit (Three Thieves) boxed wine I’ve been purchasing from Fresh Direct is considered to be highly decent and superior to other cheap mass productions like Yellow Tail.
At some point we decided we needed some French food to go with all the wine in our bellies. Maria agreed to be my sous chef, so we schlepped our bottles of wine back to my place and then picked up another bird from the grocery store. The nice part about roasting chickens is the chickens are pretty cheap. Both of the chickens I bought this weekend cost around $8-9 and fed three people. They’d probably be even cheaper if I was open to the idea of eating a chicken that has been fed other chickens. I try and stick to the vegetarian-fed, free-range, comes-with-a-pedigree chickens. The most expensive part of my two roasted chicken dinners was actually the tomatoes on Friday. Two pounds of them cost me ten bucks. I don’t know what the going rate for tomatoes is, but that seems a little steep.
I’m getting up close and personal with our chicken while Maria peels the carrots
We had a fun time cooking, and I managed to remember to do all of the things that I forgot to do the last time (except trussing the bird… I don’t know where to begin looking for a mattress needle). In the end, the chicken was absolutely delicious, but just as before the skin was not crispy. I followed everything I was supposed to do, so I am not sure what the deal is.
I’ll give it a B- this time, although Maria gets an A+ for doing all of the peeling, chopping and dicing. At this rate, you’ll all get a chance to try my chicken before I figure out what is going wrong.
April 4th, 2011 | Rachel
Julia (Child) says the best way to judge a cook is by his or her roasted chicken. Sure, there are other ways of cooking chicken, like wrapping it in bacon and cooking it rotisserie-style (ummm….yum), but those ways doesn’t require anywhere near the level of oversight as poulet rôti. Julia says it takes a true perfectionist to get it right. You have to hover over it, basting it every 8 or so minutes, and the way to know it is done is by the sounds it makes.
I guess you could say I am a bit of a perfectionist. I particularly enjoy projects that are detail-oriented and that put my obsessive nature to good use. This is probably why baking was such a natural creative outlet to pick up while I was in law school. I first dabbled with cake decorating, but quickly grew bored with making cakes out of a box. Next were cookies and cupcakes, the crowd pleasers. But when that wasn’t enough, I switched to pies. Pies combine the art of pastry-making with the endless possibilities of cooking fruits, custards, and creams.
Even though I am used to dealing with finicky recipes, I was nervous about attempting the simple dish of French roasted chicken. I thought about making it my first dish because it is one of my all-time favorite things to eat, but I got scared I wouldn’t do it justice and my infantile run as an amateur French cook would come to an abrupt halt. Instead I made the more forgiving boeuf bourguignon.
You see, there is a part of me that believes I can get most things right on the first try. Call me egotistical — or at the very least overly sure of myself — but I’ve never started a project I couldn’t finish and I’ve never met a recipe I couldn’t make. When it comes to French roasted chicken, however, that part of my brain was strangely quiet. It was only with great hesitation that I forced myself to attempt this dish this past Friday night.
The other reason I chose this endeavor for this particular evening is the cook time was only an hour and twenty minutes. Even with a full day of work, there would be plenty of time to stop by the grocery store and cook in order to have dinner ready at a reasonable hour for my two dinner guests who so kindly agreed to be my guinea pigs.
Getting started with Julia Child and Edith Piaf on Pandora
The makings of roasted chicken
I was about five minutes into the recipe when I realized I overlooked the part in the recipe calling for a carrot and an onion to flavor the chicken. So, with the oven and chicken ready to go, I ran out the door to the grocery store around the corner. Buying groceries in the city can be expensive and heavy, but nothing beats beings able to run and grab a few forgotten items from the store and getting back before the end of the next song on the playlist.
Although I ended up with all of the correct ingredients, I still took one shortcut…. I didn’t truss my chicken. According to the instructions, I am supposed to use a mattress needle to sew up my chicken into a neat, tight bundle of poultry. I don’t even have string to tie Ms. Poulet’s legs together, much less a six-inch needle. Julia claims this is done for presentation’s sake, so I skipped over the trussing instructions and focused on the salting and buttering.
The secret ingredient is butter
Julia’s recipe for roasted chicken is simple. A little bit of salt and layers and layers of butter. You have to constantly babysit the bird, basting it every 5-8 minutes. Sounds like a pain, but I assure you the hovering is worth it. To accompany this dish, I repeated Julia’s buttered potatoes and added roasted tomatoes and buttered green beans.
In the end, the chicken wasn’t perfect. I was running behind schedule, and I quickly learned that trying to entertain guests and cook a French dish for the first time isn’t easy. Between listening to the chicken and listening to my friends’ stories, I chose the latter. Perhaps as a result, the chicken ended up far from crispy, although the inside was still moist and delicious.
Crispy or not, we devoured the 3-pound bird, and the stripped carcass is now sitting in my freezing waiting to be turned into chicken stock.
I give myself a C+ on this one. I am going to have to do some research about chicken skin to figure out why mine wasn’t crispy. I suspect my oven is not as hot as it should it. Also, I was paranoid about ended up with dry chicken (what greater sacrilege could there be than a dry chicken?), so I took it out probably ten minutes too soon. But, like I said, it was still delicious.