Finally cooking some meat!
Today we were going to cook roast chicken and a whole chicken each.
In the past at home I have roasted many chickens but never cooked one in this manner.
The chickens we were using were oven-ready corn-fed chickens. The chefs would rather have given us a whole chicken, head, feet, guts and feathers included and taught us how to prepare that. But they’re not so available here as they are in France.
First of all any fat inside the neck and body was trimmed away and placed in a large pan to melt. The legs were trimmed to remove any parts of the feet remaining and the 2 outer joints of the wings were cut off and chopped into small pieces. The chicken was then lightly blowtorched to remove any scaly skin around the legs and any feathers that might still remain.
From the neck end the wishbone was exposed by scraping the meat away from it and it was then pulled out.
Then the chef trussed the chicken. This meant using the trussing needle to thread string through the legs to hold them tight to the body and similarly with the wings. The chicken was seasoned inside and out and it was ready for cooking.
The chicken was placed on one side in the pan with the melted chicken fat to start browning and the wing trimmings and wishbone added round the chicken. Then into an oven heated to 200 °C.
The chicken was taken out of the oven every 10 mins or so and basted with the chicken fat in the pan to ensure a crisp golden skin.
After 20 minutes the chicken was taken out again and turned onto the other side.
While the chicken was in the oven a small mirepoix was prepared as well as the vegetables to accompany the chicken which were broccoli florets and brown glazed baby onions.
After another 20 minutes in the oven the chicken was turned onto its back to complete the cooking – another 10 to 15 minutes.
The chicken was tested with a probe thermometer to check it was cooked at the thickest part of the legs. It was then placed on a rack and allowed to rest in a warm place loosely covered with foil while the jus was made.
The mirepoix was added to the roasting pan and the browned in the chicken fat. Once browned, the chicken trimmings and mirepoix in the pan was strained to get rid of the fat. The trimmings and mirepoix were put back in the pan and chicken stock added and the bottom of the pan scraped to get the caramelised juices into the jus. The jus was allowed to reduce by half.
Once the jus was ready, the chicken was carved – the legs were removed and cut into thighs and drumsticks. The breasts were removed and cut into two. The chicken is meant to serve 4, each person getting 1/2 a breast and one leg joint.
Here is the plating by the chef (and mine looked very similar):
The practical was taken by chef Gilles alone. He is very friendly and keen to teach.
My roast chicken went very well and he was very happy with my cooking of it and even commented that I had handled chickens before.
When I took the chicken home, the 2 hours of cooking took 2 minutes for my wife and I to polish off. It was very tasty and moist and tender. My wife said it was the best chicken she had ever had.