We’ve recently attempted to master the art of cooking a chicken. While we can’t take credit for the method – that came to us from Modernist Cuisine At Home (page 237-41) – we are going to go ahead and take credit for this particular chicken.
This is not a recipe to toss together for a quick after-work meal. This divine chicken took a few steps and more than 24 hours. In fact, the timing from start to finish is closer to 30 hours.
To begin, you have to disregard absolutely everything you thought was necessary to cook poultry. Everything you think of when you think of roasting a bird is the opposite of this experience. There is no smell of roasting chicken wafting in the air. There is no pulling it out of the oven to baste. There is no cooking at 325 degrees for X number of hours per kilogram.
What you will do is brine a chicken, cook it to a specific temperature, let it rest for forty minutes, broil it on both sides, and be left with a chicken that retains nearly all of its juice and more flavour than you could imagine exists in a single bird. You will not have a lot of chicken trimmings released in the cooking process. If you’re looking to make any gravy with this bird, you will have to produce that from a separate stock. In the image to the left, the only chicken juice that escaped is the dark matter in the bottom of the measuring cup. The rest is butter. We got a little ambitious with the basting.
When we roasted this bird, we chose to stuff it with a lemon and fresh thyme. I’ve opted for a lemon and rosemary as a stuffing option many, many times in the past – cooking my chicken until it hit 74 degrees and my lemon exploded. It wasn’t bad, but it was no match for this method. The flavour we were left with was incredible.
Even though this method will take a day of preparation, I doubt I would consider roasting a chicken any other way. The extra preparation and time is absolutely worth the payoff.
- oven thermometer
- leave-in digital probe thermometer.
These aren’t particularly pricy or unavailable tools, and I am sure you could make do with a regular leave-in thermometer, but the probe option makes for a no-fuss cooking experience.
- Water (200 ml)
- Salt (1 tbsp)
- Whole Corriander ( 2 tbsp)
- Whole black peppercorn ( 2 tsp)
- Anise Seed Pods (5)
*Brine can include only water and salt if preferred*
- whole chicken (1)
- whole lemon (1)
- fresh thyme or rosemary springs (8 or to taste)
- Melted Unsalted Butter (1/8 cup)
*Option we declined but will definitely do NEXT chicken: 15 ml of soy sauce*
t-minus 30 hours:
You should have a chicken that is ready to be prepared with gullets removed. It should not be frozen.
You will prepare the Savory Brine, inject the chicken, blanche it (if you’re not feeling lazy) and return it to the fridge for 24 hours.
To prepare the brine:
- Lightly crush the coriander, peppercorns, and anise seed pods.
- Add salt and ingredients from step 1 to water in a small saucepan.
- Bring brine to a boil and turn burner off.
- Strain ingredients from brine, reserving all liquid.
- Brine should come to room temperature before injecting to chicken.
To inject the chicken:
- Using your brine injector, inject brine to breasts and legs of chicken in equal proportions. To avoid damaging skin, inject from neck, tail region, and inner thigh.
- At this point, chicken can be blanched in boiling water for 20 seconds and placed in an ice bath. This may be repeated up to three times, but is also completely optional. It helps maintain the integrity of the skin. We skipped this because we have pretty limited space in the little kitchen. We don’t have a dishwasher. We really didn’t feel the urge to wash stock pots.
- Another optional step we skipped is to rub the optional soy sauce on the skin of the chicken. Both the blanching and the soy sauce are steps we will incorporate next time around.
- Chicken should be placed in the fridge uncovered for 24 hours to allow skin to dry. If you skip step 2, place in the fridge covered.
t-minus 4-ish hours:
- Remove chicken from the fridge and let it rest until it hits room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 205 degrees – this is where you’ll need the oven thermometer. Most ovens are inaccurate. This is the best $12 you’ll ever spend.
- Remove the wishbone – this will increase airflow.
- You can French your legs at this point. This is optional, but will improve the integrity of the final chicken. Do not tie chicken’s legs together. The bird will cook more evenly
- Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towel.
- Stuff chicken with whole lemon and fresh springs or thyme or rosemary. Do not puncture or cut lemon.
- Insert thermometer probe into thickest part of the chicken’s breast.
- Place chicken in a pan on a rack, breast side up. Cook until internal temperature reaches 60 degrees Celsius.
- Remove chicken from oven and let rest for 45 minutes. (disclaimer: we left it standing for only 20/30 minutes). Set oven to broil.
- At the 45 minute mark, flip chicken over and baste bottom of chicken. Broil for 5-6 minutes.
- Remove chicken from oven, flip chicken and baste top of chicken. Place in oven and broil breast up for 4-5 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved.
- Remove chicken from oven. Let stand for a couple minutes. Admire your handiwork.
- Remove lemon and thyme springs, and serve.
We served this with: