A couple years ago there was a Gilt City deal for a beautiful summer dinner in the French Laundry garden, and the chance to meet Thomas Keller. Out of the delicious dinner came both a photo with Mr. Keller himself, a tour of his new chicken coop with the most adorable baby chickens I’ve ever seen, as well as a Bouchon cookbook.
This all occurred in 2011. Flash to now, I randomly decided on a Saturday that I want to make myself dinner out of the cookbook. Opening the book I realize for the first time in 4 years that the cookbook is also signed by Thomas Keller. Flipping through, I notice the very first recipe before anything else is a super simple one for a rotisserie chicken.
Growing up baked chickens were a staple in my house, but when reading the instructions trussing was never something we did. Ran out to the store to buy several items.
- Cooking string
- Chicken/Turkey Pan
- Poultry Baster
- Whole chicken
Below is the recipe from the Bouchon cookbook, the only thing I would add is looking up how to truss a chicken on YouTube, and that I also now love chicken butts. Trussing makes the chicken breast super juicy compared to what I had in my childhood, and tucking the wings into the thighs keeps the tips from being burned.
- One 2- to 3-pound farm-raised chicken
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.
Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it’s a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.
Now, salt the chicken—I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.
Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone—I don’t baste it, I don’t add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don’t want. Roast it until it’s done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.
Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I’m cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip—until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook’s rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be superelegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You’ll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it’s so good.