So, we all know my life is a little hectic right now. I may be flying off the grid for an undetermined amount of time in the very near future. Be that as it may, I thought I would share one last recipe before full scale madness ensues.
We are packing up and moving, we are tying the knot, we are rearing two crazy boys (one hominid and one canidae); yet amidst all of the excitement there is only thing that stands out in my mind. One thing devouring my thoughts and controlling my every move.
Ladies and gentleman, The French Laundry. Being the food obsessed person that I am, this was an absolute must on my list of honeymoon destinations. Three blissful nights in Big Sur followed by a short trip up to Yountville to eat at one of the ultimate food meccas, a cornerstone accomplishment for many other like-minded individuals out there. True, we may be shelling out a lot more than what we generally could afford purely to appease my heavenly food dreams (my guy really is great for putting up with this, right?!) but to that I say screw it! Most people shell out big money on plane tickets to exotic locations, so screw Bali, Fuji, Hawaii, and the like; I’m going big, I’m going Keller.
But for now, roast chicken with a delectable citrus gravy. Now, the key here is butter (duh). Make a delicious compound butter and stuff it under the breast and then rub it all over your bird. The butter will self-baste the chicken so you won’t need to worry about that (really, who has time anyway?), just sit in front of your oven and drool for about an hour, that’s all. The best part is that once you have this method down you can play with all sorts of compound butters to flavor your bird; Ina Garten does a turkey breast variation with truffle butter, yum.
1 4-5 pound whole roasting chicken, giblets removed
1 stick room temperature butter
Zest of 1 lemon + cut into wedges
Zest of 1 orange
2 cloves minced garlic
1 head garlic, sliced in half length-wise
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary + 2-3 sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped thyme + 3-4 sprigs
Salt & pepper
1 cup chicken stock
Juice of 1 ½ oranges
2 tablespoons of butter
1 medium shallot, chopped
Preheat your oven to 500⁰ and make your compound butter. To do that mash up the room temp butter with the citrus zest, garlic, and chopped herbs. You can make double if you like and use this on top steaks, bread, or just slather it all over your significant other….yeah, it’s that good. Anyhow, prep your chicken by removing the giblets and/or neck (if you’re lucky) then rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towels, make sure you dry out the inside as well. Salt and pepper (liberally) the inside of the bird and then stuff the garlic head, lemon wedges, and extra herbs inside. Pull the legs together and tie them with a piece of kitchen twine to keep all of that good stiff inside of the cavity. Also, bend the wings back and tuck beneath the bird. Place the chicky inside of a large and shallow oven proof skillet if you have one (this is the best way to ensure you have a great sauce at the end) and get ready to get your hands dirty. With your finger separate the skin from the breast of the bird and distribute half of the butter among both breasts. You basically shove a wad of butter under the skin and then massage it all around. Take the remaining butter and rub it all over the top of the bird. Coat the breasts, wings, legs, and thighs. This stuff is delicious, so make sure to use it all! Sprinkle the outside of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
Once your oven is preheated take the buttery bird and place it in the oven. Immediately drop the heat down to 425⁰ and cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours, depending on the size. Mine took 1 hour 20 minutes. Make sure you check the skin occasionally, if it looks like it’s getting too dark before the bird is done cooking you can tent it with foil and the problem is solved.
When the chicken is finished cooking remove it from the oven and cover with foil, then place on a cutting board to rest. I can’t stress enough how important this is! I’ve met a lot of people who think resting only applies to steak and not chicken, but this is simply not true. If you don’t let it rest it will be dry. I guarantee it. Meanwhile, remove most of the fat from the skillet you cooked your bird in, minus 1 or 2 tablespoons. Place on a medium high heat and add shallots to the pan, let them go for a minute or two and then add the orange juice and chicken stock. Let it reduce by half (about 7 minutes) and strain out the shallots. Place the gravy back on a low heat and finish by whisking in the butter.
Carve your chicken and serve the citrus gravy on the side for guests to pour copious amounts on top. I’ve made quite a lot of variations of roast chicken and quite a lot of pan sauces, but this combination is by far my favorite. I hope you enjoy!