A great thread on Plastic about cooking turkey reminded me of my own favorite poultry cooking recipe. It hasn’t been turkey tested but might just work with the Big T (where T stands for tryptophan). (Note: original recipe published in Cooks Illustrated, but (a) it’s not on line, (b) I don’t have the magazine any more. But credit where due.)
Note 2: I originally wrote about this approach last year. But it being the holidays seemed a good excuse to drag it back out. Or at least that’s my excuse for having no brain. 🙂
The recipe is a high temperature roast, meaning that the meat cooks at 500° F, but don’t be scared. It solves three problems of high temperature roasting (dry meat, uneven cooking, and smoke) by the following easy expedients:
- Brining the meat (see the Plastic thread for a good discussion of the pros and cons of brining). For a chicken, a really large glass bowl is sometimes the right size to hold the chicken and the water. There are also five-gallon tupperware-esque containers that hold a full chicken and brine. If it’s Thanksgiving, your garage may be cold enough to hold the bird outside. Use a thermometer to make sure you’re not breeding bacteria in your brine. As for the seasoning, I use a quarter cup kosher salt and a quarter cup sugar to a gallon of seasoning, and sometimes add juniper berries or whole peppercorns for additional flavor.
- Flattening the bird so that all the meat is the same distance from the heat. They recommend doing this by cutting out the backbone of the chicken, spreading it out flat (skin side up) on a slotted roasting pan, and flattening the breastbone by pushing down with the heel of your hand.
- Great. But at 500 degrees, or more, all the fat from the chicken will drip onto the bottom of the slotted roasting pan and smoke like crazy, right? Not if you put a single layer of thin-sliced potatoes (appropriately seasoned) on the bottom of the pan first.
So: juicy, crisped-skin, tasty roast chicken, and crispy potatoes, all in one fell swoop. And quick: about forty-five minutes if I recall correctly, though since I don’t have the magazine any more I wouldn’t try to do this without my programmable thermometer set to alarm me when it gets hot enough.