The blog of a doctor, a baker, a wisdom tooth taker!
One thing which has changed since I became I food blogger is how instead of instantaneously sharing what latest delight has wafted out of my oven the very moment I finish my last bite is how I now have to curb my enthusiasm and wait until the time presents itself to cobble together a new blog post. Usually, I’m brimming with excitement at sharing something else I’ve discovered, devoured and delighted in but can contain myself long enough to blog it before blabbing all over Facebook. This week’s creation however had me positively biting my tongue, hiding my iPad and camera from myself to prevent me sharing before I’d even finished the whole project. I feel so guilty for keeping such a first class foodie find to myself! So here is myself purging my guilt and pausing for breath long enough to tell you – stop what you are doing immediately. Get thyself to a kitchenwares store, buy a meat thermometer then head directly to your butcher and buy yourself a free range and/or organic chicken then come straight back here. Do not pass go, do not collect £200 until you do! You can thank me later….
I give you – the most perfect roast chicken I’ve ever eaten.
Imagine, if you will, the first time you used vanilla extract instead of artificial essence. Or perhaps a pod instead of one of these liquids. Allow the homey, heady, simply beautiful scent to fill your nasal passages and the sweet, delicate perfume melt on your tongue. Wasn’t that a magical moment? Didn’t you ask yourself why you settled for less before? Now let’s extrapolate to poultry. Imagine a bird so brimming with intense flavour of chicken that you wonder if its been injected under the taut, crisp, browned skin. The very essence of chook. Next, lets imagine soft, tender, melting meat glistening with juices which stays that way, even after slicing or shredding from the bone and refrigerating for a day or two. Have you ever had a roast chicken like that? Don’t you long for one like that? Well, lets not imagine any longer and get cracking with this remarkable new method I’ve finally tried out from Heston Blumenthal, molecular gastronomy chef extraordinaire. Like him or loathe him, let me tell you – once you’ve tried chicken this way, you’ll never look back!
It’s quite possible a lot of you are turned off immediately by the mere mention of Heston – he is, after all, the King of Kitchen Faff. Someone you may admire but never aspire to be in your own homely kitchen. Please disregard any preconceived notions that this chicken will require over the top cheffy preparation and ludicrously recherché ingredients and/or culinary gadgets. It could not be easier. And apart from the afore mentioned meat thermometer, you need nothing else more specialised than a roasting tin and your common or garden oven. Now, I’ve simplified Heston’s methods slightly to suit my own preferences and prejudices – for instance, he started by brining the whole raw chicken over night in the fridge in a saline solution of 60g salt to each litre water. Apparently it increases the moisture content and makes for a more succulent chicken but honestly, my take on Heston’s perfection was none too shabby if I do say so myself, sans heart stopping amounts of salt (literally!). Do as you please and do tell me what you found if you brine yours! So after slathering with a heaped tbsp of butter, a smattering of salt and pepper and shoving a squeezed lime into the cavity along with some garlic cloves and the sprig of rosemary my butchers bird already came with. Simples. Do substitute for lemon and thyme if you prefer.
Now here comes the magic method, ooo!…
You need to cook the chicken in a low oven until the internal temperature reads 60 degrees C. This will vary from oven to oven and size of bird in how long it took – for me, I cooked my 1.4kg bird in a 120 oven for 2.5 hours. As Heston warns – do not expect wafting delicious smells of roast chicken as it is too low a temp to do so. You’ll just have to be patient and wait to eat your Deluca’s bird instead of smelling her roast
See – she’s like my red headed Hungry Hubby on our honeymoon in Mexico – milk bottle white with all her freckles starting to sneak out!
Remember free range and organic birds have darker dark meat so their thighs are more on the red side than supermarket birds. You will see the juices run clear from the thickest part of the breast even cooked so low and slow. Heston does point out that the traditional internal temp of a rot chicken should be 75 degrees C but he says in his TV show and book he goes with 60 and has never had a problem. Please do make up your own mind what you feel most comfortable with.
Now we leave the bird to rest uncovered for 45 minutes and turn the oven up to full whack. Which gives us an excellent opportunity to use those deeply delicious roasting juices to cook our veg to go alongside the chook.
I can’t tell you how incredible these veggies were! Use whatever you have with some cubed potatoes and you have a genuinely one pan dinner they is imbued with the very essence of roast chicken in every mouthful. This meal is one of those meals that makes me weep for the times I have done it any differently before! After the veg have cooked in the very hot oven for 45 minutes,whip them out and plonk the chook back in. It took 10-15 mins for the skin to crisp and develop an eye-appealing suntan. Please join me, sink your teeth into probably one of the best home cooked meals you’ve ever had…
This was a meal ate in slow motion by me and the Hungry one. Every bite was savoured and experienced to the full. I will never cook a whole chicken another way. I will serve it to all my friends and family for the foreseeable future – it’s so good I just have to share the secrets with as many folk as I can! It’s a crime I had Heston’s book on my shelf so by long and was not brave enough to try it out sooner.
Just one more note. The meat is so brimming with succulence that it does not need gravy in my opinion. The juices the veg cooked in add some lubrication but we were more than happy to eat the meal without a gravy boat besides us. I would say, try it before you declare me bonkers! ;).
As for what I did with the leftovers, you’ll have to join me later in the week for part two of this post. Believe me – you will not want to miss it.
Get the recipe here – The Most Perfect Roast Chicken Dinner