Hello from Chicago. True honest to god - city living Chicago. 23 blocks due West of the Sears Tower and steps from damn good pizza. Six months and no blogging. Tisk tisk... We are still unpacking boxes and the cookbooks are slowly finding their way back into our home - as are a stream of new food magazines arrive and the piles they seem to transform themselves into - waiting to be catalogued into some sort of future reference library. We spent the summer driving back and forth between Chicago and my family's lakeside cottage in Michigan. Relearning the practices of summer with no restaurant job - - water skiing, berry picking, sweet corn. It's hard to remember when we had a more perfect summer and harder still to think we'll have it again. When you are married to someone that works in the kitchen you come to learn that you relish the time between gigs - because it's when your life is the closest to other "normal" couples. We had dinner parties, and attended dinner parties - together! We went to weddings together! We watched movies together! We were simply together! Together was my favorite word this summer.
Now that the leaves are turning color and the weddings are over and the excuses to keep him home are growing weaker....I've lost him again... to a kitchen. Somehow it seems selfish to want him home with me when I know that he misses the lifestyle, the food, the secret handshake that a working kitchen offers but still I find myself sad as I realize again I'll be eating alone, watching tv alone and experiencing a new city alone. Poor me! Except he's so happy and excited to be back at work that well... I guess it's why I married him to begin with huh. So I find myself back at my keyboard and relishing the change of seasons.
I know it is fall not because the first of the leaves are turning color outside my window but because the house permeates with the smell of a roasting chicken. Thomas Keller's recipe from the Bouchon cookbook but of course :-). Roasting Chicken always makes me think of chilly Paris nights and that makes me smile. I added a little fresh sage to my chicken tonight but add whatever you want!
MY FAVORITE SIMPLE ROAST CHICKEN by Thomas Keller
1 farm-raised chicken, about 2-3 pounds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced thyme, optional
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.
Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it's a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.
Now salt the chicken -- I like to rain the salt over the bird so it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it's cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.
Place the chicken in a saute pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone -- I don't baste it, I don't add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don't want. Roast it until it's done, 50-60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.
Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I'm cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip -- until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook's rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be super elegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter.
Here's to the change of leaves, the onset of red wine, and slow roasted meals and doing what you love.