The supermarket near my place sells roasted chickens: brown, crispy glorious whole chickens that you can sometimes get for very cheap – $4 some days, or $12 when you’re not at the right place at the right time. So of course I hold out for the cheap days.
Someone in the sales department must’ve wised up over time, because those days don’t come around as often. Driven by an economical need rather than one of taste, I’ve taken to roasting my own. After a little trial and error, it became a great way to finish up the dozen sauces lining our larder (bought from various trips around the world), and also a way to provide the week’s work lunches.
As far as recipes go, I pretty much toss up whatever I have on hand. One of my more usual ways is dousing the whole bird in a sweet and spicy chutney chilli blend, combining sauces bought on a trip to Cape Town (above: Mrs H.S. Ball’s chutney and Farm Style Mozambican Peri Peri). Otherwise it’s an easy paprika rub. There’s no fuss: no fancy trussing or basting, my trick is quite a simple one. Roast on high for the first 30 ish minutes so the skin gets crispy and delicious, followed by another 30 – 40 minutes or so on a lower heat and the chicken remains juicy and tender.
Thinking of trying something different today, I made Thomas Keller’s roast chicken. Forgoing the trussing, I salted and shoved the chicken into the oven on high, which didn’t result in the beautifully brown, crisp chicken I was expecting after 40 minutes. It was a disappointingly yellow dry slab in my oven. Took a detour here and proceeded to rub the chicken down with chipotle mustard (or regular Dijon mustard. I tried to finish my bottle from Dean and Deluca), cooked on a lower heat for another 20 minutes, and then slathered a spoonful of butter towards the end. BAM! A winner.