Thanksgiving and I do not have the best record. I’m sure I’ve spoken about my first time tackling the massive amounts of food on my own. The second time was more manageable because I started 3 days prior. The third time, well, my husband got gout and nothing I planned to cook would even be worth the pain it would cause him. Gout is stupid but so is not eating the tenderloin I wrapped delicious things with.
This year, I am so close to ordering food from the Indian restaurant nearby. They stay open. I don’t think us Indians know what to do with a 4-day break besides work. But, I won’t do that. I will cook because no matter what the festival or day, this is my way of showing gratitude. As much as I love elaborate meals, I care much more about the gesture and the simplicity of what I’m fed. I’ve had two of those meals in the past two months, made by two sweet friends and I’ve never felt happier after them. I think that kind of company is something to be thankful for.
I saw this recipe on Orangette in the summer, when I had a roast chicken sitting in my fridge (HI, Zack!). When I read anything on Molly Wizenberg’s site, I cross my fingers and hope to have all the ingredients. This time, I did. I think most of the food-loving, home-cooking internet trusts her when she says something is good. So of course I had to turn on the oven (I’m an immigrant from west India. Washington summer is like air-conditioning). I’ve never cooked a whole chicken before this and I don’t think I’ll ever cook it any other way. I was so excited I could do it so I did it again, and again in the months following (thank you for selling the best chickens, Zack!). Which fittingly leads up to now, the start of Holiday season when I have little idea where to start. I have a whole chicken in the fridge. It’s a small one, just enough for two people. It’s all we’ll need.
- 2-3 lb chicken
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Unsalted butter
- Dijon mustard
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Dry the outside and inside cavity of the chicken using a paper towel. I set the chicken on the roasting pan that I would be using while doing this step. Try to get as much as you can before salting the bird. Since it was my first time, I was extra careful while drying the bird. Don’t fret if you miss some spots, is the lesson I learnt the second time. It tastes delicious just the same.
Truss the chicken. I had seen it done once and it looked incredibly hard to me. I thought I would need some special knot-tying skill, which was a false assumption. Phew! Follow this video and you should be fine. The reason cooks truss the chicken is so that the bird cooks more evenly and stays juicier. It also helps keep the wing tips from burning since they stay tucked in, close to the chicken while cooking (Thank you Molly, for explaining it all). I had to watch the video at least 8 times. Don’t worry if you don’t understand what part goes where the first time around.
Salt the chicken. I did not measure the quantity of salt that was used. Instead I used Molly’s trick of covering the bird uniformly with salt grains. Thomas Keller uses 1 tbsp in his recipe. If you take a look at the photos above, they should give you an idea of how the chicken should look once salted. Sprinkle some fresh pepper over the bird too.
Roast the chicken by placing it breast side up in a roasting pan. Put it into the oven on the middle rack and cook for 45 to 50 minutes or until the temperature of the bird on the thigh registers to 165 degrees F. Spoon the juices from the pan over the chicken and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Cut off the butcher’s twine and carve the chicken to get the most meat off the bone. Serve with butter on top and a side of Dijon mustard.
Save the chicken carcass for some slow-cooked chicken stock. Just add garlic, half an onion and some fresh herbs like thyme, oregano and parsley. This roast chicken will feed you for the whole week.