Saturday, February 6, 2010

Diary of a Secret Housewife: Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken

Even though my poor overworked, underslept, and underpaid husband didn't get home for dinner until 11:30 this evening, it's still shabbat.  And you know what that means: it's roast chicken night at our Chewish household!  

Inspired by the Amateur Gourmet's glowing review, I decided to try my hand at Thomas Keller's recipe from his Ad Hoc at Home cookbook.

Like the Zuni Cafe's chicken recipe, which I made last week, Chef Keller's recipe involves roasting a small chicken on high heat.  Starting the chicken at 475 degrees gives the bird a bronzed, crispy skin.  Unlike the Zuni recipe, though, Keller's directs you to turn the heat down part way through the roasting.

The other unique aspect of Keller's recipe is that it calls for roasting the chicken directly on top of a lovely bunch of root vegetables.  (Keller called for rutabaga, turnips, and leeks, but since I don't even know what a rutabaga looks like, I rummaged through our vegie drawer and threw in everything we had left: carrots, potatoes, onions, and a handful of brussel sprouts.)

The vegetables soaked up all the delicious chicken fat and juices, until they were luscious and happy and delicious.  They were really the highlight of the meal; in fact, I'm tempted to lick the screen right now.

And the chicken?  It was pretty good.  The skin was crispy, and the meat succulent and flavorful.  If I hadn't tasted the Zuni version, I'd probably think this recipe was fantastic.  But Zuni's produces much crispier, tastier skin.  And my husband actually thought that the meat was juicier with the Zuni recipe.  But what I like most about the Zuni version is that it requires no additional fat, whereas Keller's involves both butter and canola oil.

But don't take my word for it.  Try both out yourself, and let me know what you think.  The Keller recipe is available on this Amateur Gourmet post, while the Zuni recipe is here at Serious Eats.


Christina,  February 6, 2010 at 12:26 PM  

I love all your chicken recipes! Have you tried "French Chicken in a Pot"? It's a recipe from America's Test Kitchen. It's one of my favourites b/c it's super easy and very juicy!

Mrs. Hot Cocoa February 6, 2010 at 1:33 PM  

@ Christina: I haven't tried that yet, but I guess I have my recipe for next week! Thanks so much.

Nicole Peterson February 6, 2010 at 7:23 PM  

Thank you so much for posting this. I have been struggling to perfect a roast chicken recipe and I can't wait to try both of them. But the Keller version is more appealing since it involves vegetables. My mouth was drooling over the photos.

PS Followed you on Weddingbee and you had one kick-a wedding!

Mrs. Hot Cocoa February 7, 2010 at 12:15 AM  

@ Nicole: Thanks so much for visiting! Please please let me know how you like the recipe. And you definitely should try the Zuni one after; the Keller one is great, but the Zuni is amazing.

Sugarpond February 7, 2010 at 11:25 PM  

This looks so good, I'm awaiting my copy of Ad Hoc.. It's been sold out online since January! I think my copy is coming in at the end of February, it's that good! :)

Mrs. Hot Cocoa February 7, 2010 at 11:34 PM  

@ Sugarpond: I almost ordered a copy off Gilt Groupe when it was on sale a few weeks ago. I really regret being slow on the mouse that day!

Brandi February 10, 2010 at 12:29 PM  

MMMM... I've never tried any of Keller's recipes but this looks delish... I think I may try this within the next few days. Thanks!

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