Thursday, November 19, 2009

Come Here, My Little Chickens!

Our roasted chickens are probably the juiciest birds you'll ever eat. The chickens are thoroughly dried before being trussed and roasted. I learned last week and got a refresher yesterday on how to properly dry and truss a chicken. Why do we dry the chicken, including its cavity? I learned that water in a hot oven makes steam (duh!) and we do not want steamed chicken, we want roast chicken. So you stuff the cavity with paper towel and then you proceed to thoroughly dry the outside. By the time you have a nice and dry chicken on the outside, chances are the paper towel inside it has done its job and absorbed quite a bit of the moisture so the inside is more or less dry also. Truss the bird -- don't forget to remove the paper towel! -- and stick it in the oven.

Trussing took a little bit of practice. The tucking of the wingtips behind and under the chicken, pressing down on the legs so they stay close to the body and crossed at the "ankles", slipping the string under the wings, crossing over the legs and under, double-tie and knot on top gets easier and easier the more you do it. I've done an entire tray of chicken (about ten) before they started to all look the same and be nice and tightly trussed up but I think I got it now, I'm ready for that 100-chicken banquet that I might have to do one day!

Once the chicken is trussed, it's roasted in the oven and then cut in half, back bone removed. That's also a messy job, one that I needed to learn. I found that the job is nearly impossible without a really sharp knife because the knife has to go through some bone and cartilage. You can't hack at the chicken like a savage because the halves you're left with have to look good when they go on the plate along with a garnish and sides. Taking out the bone is a messy job, your hands get greasy and the knife's handle becomes slippery so by the third chicken I find I have to wipe down my hands, the cutting surface and the knife before I can go on. I don't want to lop off a finger because I've been too lazy to clean myself and the knife slipped as I was pressing it down through the chicken's back.

I plan to try this method of roasting at home but before I do, I need to learn what's in that brine that makes them so juicy.

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