I love roast chicken. Love it. What’s not to love; rich flavor, moist meat, basically everything you love about chicken is amplified. Great in its simplicity, but like most things that are simple can be incredibly challenging. Cook too long, you get cardboard. Cook too short, hello food poisoning. But that middle point of perfection is one of the best things you’ll ever eat. Roast chicken is the star of the show at any dinner.
Some interesting notes on roast chicken:
- Le Pichet/Cafe Presse
Listed both as they are sister restaurants, but they are slightly different, mostly in the experience. Le Pichet is whimsical, playful, with an old world energy, while Cafe Presse is energetic, urban, vibrant. The feel at both places pass onto the dining experience. When you order their chicken expect to wait an hour. It’s worth it. The chicken will be quartered off for you and you’ll get a healthy portion of fries at Cafe Presse and Le Pichet will have some veggies and maybe polenta to accompany it. And for dessert definitely make sure to order the Chocolat Chaud. It’s so good it’s not even on the menu. Another insider tip from your friend Frank.
- Heston Blumenthal’s Search for Roast Chicken Perfection
In the molecular gastronomy world there are a gaggle of renowned chefs doing their thing. Folks such as Wylie Dufresne, Grant Achatz, Ferran Adria (I’ll be writing more about him soon…) and more, Heston Blumenthal is doing his thing at his renowned restaurant, The Fat Duck. What’s unique about his roast chicken is that he cooks his for about 4-6 hours at 60 degrees Celsius. You read that right. 60 Celsius (about 140 Fahrenheit) how is this possible you ask? Doesn’t the internal temperature of chicken need to be 165? Conventionally speaking, yes. But molecular gastronomy is about breaking walls of food through science and technique. What Chef Blumenthal does is keep the chicken roasting at 60 continuously, as in there isn’t waves to the temperature. His ovens pump over those four hours at a steady temp. For our pedestrian ovens, the heat fluctuates and reaches an average that achieves that temperature. Tricky. And yes, I want to try it.
- Costco Rotisserie Chicken
The seasoned rotisserie chicken at Costco is unbelievable. And it’s only five bucks! It’s super flavorful and will yield at least a couple of meals out of it. You can also use the bones and scrap meat to make broth. Another great thing that Costco does with their chicken at the end of the day is make soup and chicken salad. Great way to reuse the meat. The tricky thing with going to Costco is that the trip will easily cost you $100 in the end. This is also known as The Costco Effect. An example; one time we were at Costco to grab water. That’s it water. But as we’re walking past the butcher counter I mention that people were waiting for the chicken. So that peaked our interest. As we wait for the next round of chicken to be ready we decide to mosey over to the books and DVDs. That wait ended up costing us another $100.
But back to the chicken, since it’s rotisserie, it rotates on a spit and self-bastes to stay moist. The chicken is always perfectly cooked and seasoned and will make you want to eat it then and there. When you grab yours, make sure to grab a plastic bag to put it in, careful as it may leak. Also, the trussing they use is a bit tricky to take off when you’re ready to eat, so make sure to cut it away and pull it off, the wings are the tricky part.
There you have it; my soliloquy to the glory of roast chicken. Trust me, I could go on even more, but we’ll save that for another post.
Oh yeah, wine pairings. Because of it’s richness, something with a nice bit of acidity would be great to have with it. For whites, a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc or Washington Riesling would be perfect. And don’t exclude reds as the bold flavors of roast chicken could stand up to some reds. French Beaujolais or Oregon Pinot Noir, even Washington Cab would make a great match.