Makes 4 servings
Order a roast chicken from any bistro menu and you know exactly what you are getting. Brown and glistening, garnished with piping hot fries, a quarter section of poultry perfection awaits knife, fork, and un verre of your favorite wine. A universal staple, from small cafés to trendy offshoots of three-star restaurants, poulet rôti is bistro cooking. Even better, roast chicken is easily duplicated at home. Include the fries if you wish, as they add a certain je ne sais quoi, but feel free to serve the chicken with another potato choice, such as mashed, for a simpler variation.
One 3-1/2 to 4 pound chicken
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons salted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 small onion, halved
1 cup white wine
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 quart peanut oil
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into even,
For the roast chicken, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Rinse the inner cavity of the chicken to remove any pooled blood; pat dry. Place the chicken on a rack in a medium-sized, shallow roasting pan. Mash the garlic and salt together with the tines of a fork on a cutting board to form a paste. Stir the butter, thyme, pepper, and mashed garlic together in a small bowl to combine. Using your fingers, rub half the butter mixture under the skin and over the breast meat of the chicken. Rub the remaining butter mixture over the outer surface of the chicken. Place the onion in the cavity of the chicken. Pour the white wine and 1/2 cup of the broth into the roasting pan. Roast for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1-1/2 hours or until a thermometer registers 180 degrees F when inserted in the thickest portion of the thigh and the juices run clear. Remove the chicken to a platter. Remove the rack.
Mix 2 tablespoons of water with the cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of broth to the roasting pan along with 1/2 cup of water. Scrape the bottom to combine the drippings; tilt the pan and skim off some of the surface fat with a spoon. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture; cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Serve with the chicken.
Meanwhile, for the fries, heat the peanut oil to between 350 degrees F and 360 degrees F in a large frying pan. Add the potatoes, in 3 to 4 batches, and fry until just beginning to color, maintaining the oil temperature, 3 to 5 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels.
When ready to serve, reheat the peanut oil to between 375 degrees F and 380 degrees F. refry the potatoes in 3 to 4 batches until browned and crisp, maintaining the oil temperature, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Drain; salt and serve immediately.
Placing the chicken on a rack above the wine and broth produces excellent results and eliminates several steps from the traditional French roasting method. Elevating the chicken allows the skin to brown nicely while the steam formed from the evaporating liquid keeps the flesh moist without basting. This eliminates the need to brown the chicken in a skillet before roasting and eliminates the classic step of turning the chicken from side to side in the oven to keep the breast meat moist.
Crisp fries can be made at home. Having no commercial fryer, I find an electric frying pan produces good results. Do not overcrowd the pan; if you do, the oil temperature fluctuates too much and the fries absorb too much oil. Double frying is an absolute necessity, producing a fluffy interior and crisp exterior.
100 Easy Yet Elegant Recipes with French Flair
by Mary Ellen Evans
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created October 2004
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