If you haven’t had a chance to try the Thomas Keller Roast Chicken yet, you should! The principle is simple – a hot oven, a lot of salt, and no oil yields the crispest skin and juiciest meat. I take my recipe a couple of steps farther by brining the bird in a 2.5%/1.25% salt/sugar solution for two days. I then dry the skin by placing it on a rack in the fridge for 12 – 24 hours. It sounds like a lot of work but it is 100% worth it. TRUST.
1 roasting chicken (4-6lbs)
168 grams kosher salt – divided
75 grams sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
fresh cracked pepper to taste
*Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken recipe
Spatchcock* the chicken by cutting along both sides of the back with a pair of kitchen shears, removing both the back and the neck. Trim the breast meat off the wishbone and pull it out to remove.
Make the brine. Mix 5L of water with 150g of the salt and the 75g of sugar until dissolved. Add ice until the level is up to 10L. Place the bird in the brine and store in the fridge for 24 – 48 hours.
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Place it on a rack on a sheet tray in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
Heat the oven to 220C/425F. While the oven is heating, take the bird out from the fridge to allow the core temperature to come up before going into the oven. Apply the remaining salt** to both sides of the bird and add a generous crack of black pepper. Cook the bird until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is 77C/170F***.
Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest. Carve and serve. So simple and so delicious!
*With this method it is not necessary to spatchcock the chicken. You can truss the chicken and roast it whole with amazing results.
**It will seem like a lot of salt but it is important for getting that crispy skin as it aids in absorbing excess moisture. Do not put any oil or fat onto the bird, it will be tempting but DON’T. Thomas Keller’s theory is that the evaporation of water from the added oil is what keeps the skin from crisping up so beautifully. This is also the reason for adding so much salt to the exterior of the bird, it draws out the moisture from the skin rapidly, allowing it to turn into that crispy, golden magic that is oh so delicious.
***Depending on the size of the bird, cook time should be between 50-70 minutes.