Want to make great-looking roast chicken? Use string!

Roast Chicken with Vegetables made at The International Culinary Center

My first in-class evaluation perfectly described my skills as a home cook: strong flavor profiles, messy workstation, uneven knife work... that's me in a nutshell.

I have never cared what my food looks like on a plate (or what my kitchen looks like in the aftermath), so long as everything tastes delicious.

When I first started culinary school, I knew I'd graduate with a greater knowledge of pairing food and a Rolodex of recipes. I did not, however, expect a complete makeover.

Video: The key to great-looking roast chicken

Now, when I'm cooking for myself, I find it fun to think about how each step can make my final product look prettier. If I cut my vegetables the same size and shape, or add some fresh herbs to bring in contrasting colors, my plate will look more appetizing in the end.

Along those lines, using string to truss - or tie up - chicken has been particularly helpful for me. It holds the bird together so beautifully. We made a few delicious chicken recipes in class, and using this technique really helped our final product look its best. To learn how to truss a whole chicken, watch the video above.

Apply your trussing knowledge to our roast chicken recipe we made in class!

Roast Chicken, Grandmother Style (Poulet Roti Grand-Mere)
Adapted from The International Culinary Center

Poulet Roti Grand-Mere made in class.

Yield: 4 Servings

  • 1 chicken, (about 3lb 5oz)

  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Chicken trimmings (gizzards, necks, hearts), as needed
  • 1 small carrot, small chunks
  • 1/2 small onion, small chunks
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 cups veal stock (chicken or beef stock are also fine, your choice!)

1. Trim chicken of excess fat, season and truss.

2. Heat up a large saute pan. Add butter and oil. Brown the chicken in the butter and oil on all sides. (NOTE: begin with the legs. They take longer to cook so it's good to get them going first. Flip the bird over to brown the breast, and then brown the back last. There is the least amount of meat on the back, so it needs the least amount of cooking)

3. Place the chicken on its back in an oven set to 350F. After about 10 minutes of roasting, add the carrots and onions to the pan. If you have any trimmings, add them into the pan along with the vegetables. Place back in oven.

4. Roast the chicken until the juices run clear (not pinkish, which indicates blood) from a hole poked into the thigh. The internal temperature between the breast and the thigh should register 140-150F. While the chicken is in the oven, you can prepare your garniture (see below).

5. After about an hour to an hour-and-a-half, your chicken should be cooked (check temperature). Remove it from the oven and place it on a rack to rest.

6. If the brown bits from the chicken and vegetables have not caramelized, place the pan on the stovetop and cook down until they caramelize; be careful not to burn them.

7. Once they have caramelized, remove the fat and deglaze with white wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge the bits, add the stock, and stir. Cook for at least 10 minutes.

8. Strain into a pot. Using a ladle or some paper towels, try and get as much of the grease off of he top of the stock as possible. Then reduce. Season to taste.

Garniture

  • 1 recipe potatoes (see below)
  • 1 recipe pearl onions, glacer a brun (see below)
  • 1 recipe bacon lardons (see below)
  • 1 recipe sauteed mushrooms (see below)

When all the garniture elements have been cooked, toss and add to the wine and stock sauce. Carve chicken and serve it on top of the sauce and vegetables.

Potatoes (Pommes Rissole)

  • 2 potatoes, Idaho or russet
  • Water, to cover
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter

1. Peel the potatoes and cut into 2 inch slices

2. Place the potatoes in just enough cold water to cover (too much will cause the potatoes to overcook). Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Drain and allow the potatoes to air dry.

3. Heat a small saute pan and add oil. Add the blanched potatoes to the pan in a single layer. When they are evenly browned, drain the oil and add the butter. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and finish the cooking in an oven at 400F.

Pearl Onions, Glacer a Brun

  • 1/4 cup pearl onions (about 3-5 per serving)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt

1. Peel the onions by first soaking them in warm water. Then, place them in a saute pan large enough to hold them in a single layer.

2. Add enough water to come halfway up the largest onion, add sugar, butter, salt, and cover with a parchment paper lid. Cook Glacer a Brun (Watch: Your new go-to vegetable side dish). Do not use too much water; the water should be completely evaporated when the onions are done. Season.

Bacon Lardons and Mushrooms

  • 1/2 cup bacon, cut into 1/2 inch thin slices
  • Oil
  • 1/2 cup quartered mushrooms

1. Gently saute bacon slices in a little oil. They shouldn't become too crispy, but should render some fat. Set aside, reserve fat.

2. Saute mushrooms in reserved bacon fat until tender. Season.

  • Alison Stravitz

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