Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Multitude of Roast Chicken Recipes

It seems that the simpler something is, the more methods of doing it there are.  This is definitely the case of roast chicken, for which there seems to be a countless number of methods, 90% of which work.  I’ve tried stuffing the chicken with lemons a la Marcella Hazan, trussing it, leaving it untrussed, roasting at high heat, roasting at two temperatures, rubbing the bird with butter, rubbing it with just salt… you get the point.  Nearly all of those methods have turned out well. 

Thomas Keller alone has printed two methods of simply roasted in chicken in his cookbooks.  Up until now, my standby roast chicken recipe had been this one from the Bouchon cookbook in which a trussed chicken is seasoned only with salt and roasted at 450F for 45 minutes. Keller's latest cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home, contains yet another, completely different recipe for roast chicken.  In the more complicated Ad Hoc incarnation, the chicken is stuffed with garlic and thyme, trussed, seasoned with salt and pepper, rubbed with canola oil, and topped with butter (which I might add, blatantly disobeys his instructions in the Bouchon recipe), then roasted over a bed of root vegetables.  Additionally, unlike the single oven temperature in the Bouchon recipe, the Ad Hoc recipe calls for roasting the chicken first at 475F for 25 minutes, then at 400F for 40 minutes. 

So, what gives? Did Keller have some sort of roast chicken enlightenment between writing his two books?  Is one method better than the other?  You be the judge:

First, a chicken I roasted using the Ad Hoc at Home method the other week:

Now, here is a chicken I roasted using the Bouchon method a while back:

The Ad Hoc method may look better due to the extra browning, but both chickens were very tasty.  Without eating them at the same time, I can't say which one was better, although I will probably stick to the Bouchon method most nights for its quicker execution.  I just look at them both as two very good methods of producing the same simple thing.  

What is your favorite method of roasting chicken?

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