Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tom Colicchio's Roasted Chicken (13/24)

Almost every time I've been back to LA this year, I've found a way to get a chicken on the table for my parents and my brother. This time, I was fortunate enough to cook for my grandma and my aunt, who were both visiting from Seoul, South Korea.

Because I felt like this was a little bit more of a special occasion, I decided to go with a recipe from a book that I've felt has laid a strong foundation to my cooking knowledge: Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio. Everything I've cooked from this book has been phenomenal, featuring clean, comforting flavors and approachable explanations of techniques. According to Tom Colicchio, roasting comes down to four basic steps: brown, gently roast (avoid high heat), baste (with butter), and rest.

The ingredient list consists of a short list of chicken, salt, pepper, two sprigs of rosemary, two sprigs of thyme, peanut oil, and unsalted butter. As usual, rinse and dry the chicken thoroughly with paper towels.

Next, cut off and discard the last joint of each wing, season the chicken with salt and pepper inside and out, and throw the sprigs in the cavity.

Then truss. If you've never trussed a chicken before, this is my favorite instructional video on how to truss a chicken. Criss cross, applesauce.

Next comes the fun part. Heat some peanut oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Using some tongs, or any other available means (like your hands), place the chicken on its side in the skillet until that side browns.

If you have tongs that don't have metal ends, use those. Metal tongs, as I quickly learned, run a higher risk of breaking the skin. No biggie if the skin does break though.

Once one side browns (this took about 10 minutes for me), do the same to the other side. The oil gets a little crazy here, so be careful, or just go for it.

After both sides have browned, readjust the chicken breast-side up and move the skillet to a 375-degree oven. Roast the chicken for about 20 minutes.

Add a couple of tablespoons of butter to the skillet and roast for about another half an hour. Baste the chicken a few times during this half hour to make sure the butter and chicken fat gets all over the chicken. Mmmm...butter.

As usual, once the chicken looks well-roasted and the thigh juices run clear when you tilt the chicken, remove the chicken from the oven. Look at that beauty.

Despite your temptations to eat the chicken immediately, let the chicken rest. Tom Colicchio explains that the importance of resting lies in allowing the juices that have been forced to the center of the chicken by the heat to redistribute themselves. He also suggets allowing the chicken to rest under a loose piece of aluminum foil. This generally prevents the surface of the chicken from cooling off too quickly.

After 10 to 15 minutes, carve that baby up and sprinkle the meat with coarse sea salt. I like myself some Maldon salt.

The first cut released a plume of rosemary-and-thyme-infused steam, and the chicken looked strangely inviting. Taking its cue, we all dived in and ate our way through the whole chicken like ravenous vultures.

The skin was delicately crispy, especially the pre-browned sides. The skin didn't taste excessively fatty and the aroma and taste of rosemary and thyme made its way to the outermost parts of the chicken without making any single piece overwhelmingly herbal. The white meat was still incredibly moist and the dark meat released a flood of juices. The addition of coarse sea salt at the end drew out the innermost, latent flavors from the chicken.

The overall verdict from my family was that this definitely beat out the two other chickens I've roasted for my family: Jacques Pépin's Quick Roasted Chicken and Thomas Keller's "My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken." This recipe still wasn't as simple and delicious as Marcella Hazan's, but it definitely beats out Ludo's version, and maybe even Mindy Fox's Peruvian recipe. I don't know exactly where this recipe will fall at the end of the year, but I have a feeling it'll be up there.

Thank you for introducing me to this beautiful recipe, Tom Colicchio.


  1. Wow!
    It's the most famous roast chicken
    that my mom always talks about.
    It's looks so amazing!
    Specially i love the butter part!
    I can imagine the crispy bite of the skin!

    Ah!! want to fly over there.
    not only for the chiken but also to see
    my lovely one! : )

    with love


  2. Recalls me the night. It was a really memorable dinner we all enjoyed!!! Mouth watering images........eeeemmmmmm

  3. This is a great project! There are so many ways to roast a chicken, I love to see you exploring so many options.

  4. Thanks! I've had a heck of a time roasting all these chickens. Many more interesting variations to come!

    Also, props to you for keeping up such an important blog in my life. I find myself looking for recipes on your site constantly. It's perfect for my current student lifestyle, and it'll probably be great for my post-student loan-filled lifestyle for years to come.


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