Monday, October 13, 2008

Thanksgiving salt-crusted chicken!

Hello there!

Sorry for taking so long to get this particular installment out. I realize it is well after thanksgiving...

Happy thanksgiving though everyone! I hope you're all enjoying amazing food and time with loved ones.

This installment of our lovely food blog is about a delicious little thanksgiving meal for two. As you may or may not know Annie and I live in a little apartment with only a small range and a single sink. Counter space... ha! Anyhow along with this we only have two mouths and as such when it came to coming up with a thanksgiving meal this holiday season we just couldn't justify doing a full turkey. I really like turkey sandwiches but after two weeks I think it would lose it mystique. With this in mind we decided to cook up a chicken instead.

One afternoon I was laying in bed watching the food network (as I tend to do quite often) and a show about French cooking at home came on the Food Network. Needless to say I was very intrigued and continued to watch. The focus of the show was classic French meals to make for families and friends, in particular the host was cooking a salt crusted chicken! Looked soooo delicious! The crust isn't eaten but works to lock in every drop of delectable chicken juice.
The following is how you can accomplish your own salt-crusted chicken. Please note that when I cooked it I didn't use a strict recipe and just went with the flow following the concepts rather than the measures presented in the show. Bon apetit!

  • One full chicken sans giblets.
  • ~ 1.5 cups Sicilian sea salt
  • ~ 2.5 cups all purpose flour, unbleached
  • Splash of baking powder (I would guess about a teaspoon)
  • Enough water to make a proper dough
  • Spices: thyme, rosemary, sage (classic french poultry herbs), here you can add or subtract as desired
  1. Wash chicken thoroughly inside and out. Use paper towel to pat dry.
  2. Lift skin off the chicken and slide the various herbs under. Do this all around the chicken such that the region between the meat and the skin is spattered w/ herbs.
  3. In a large mixing bowl add the entirety of the flour. To this slowly add water and mix slowly by hand. Continue adding water until you have dough that is quite wet.
  4. Pour in the baking powder.
  5. Slowly add in the sea salt working it into the dough. Continue mixing the dough until it appears consistent.
  6. Flour a clean, flat workspace. Transfer dough to that workspace.
  7. Knead dough as you would for bread, adding flour as necessary. Cease kneading and adding flour when the dough no longer sticks to your hand.
  8. Wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
  9. Preheat the oven 375F.
  10. In a small mixing bowl whisk three egg whites and one yolk together.
  11. Remove dough from fridge. Separate into 40% / 60% portions. Roll both of the pieces out with a rolling pin (or as I did with an empty wine bottle) till .5cm thick or until large enough that they would together wrap the whole chicken.
  12. Place smaller piece of dough in the bottom of the roasting pan. On top of this place the whole chicken. When this is done gently lower the larger portion of dough on top of the chicken.
  13. Now this is the tricky part, you need to connect the upper part of the dough with the lower section. Run your hands under the sink to make them quite wet and use this moisture to connect the two. This part of the process takes some time and a lot of attention to detail. Take your time and make sure there are no holes whatsoever. The moistness of your chicken depends on this.
  14. Using a basting brush (or your hands like I did)to coat the chicken with the whisked egg wash.
  15. Throw that puppy into the oven!
  16. How long do you need to cook the chicken? That really depends on the size of your chicken and the particular oven you're using. For an average 2.5 - 3 lb chicken two hours is a good baseline. Use your good judgement and a meat thermometer (internal temp 185F) to ensure the chicken is done. Nobody likes ecoli... err on the side of safety.
Once the chicken is ready set it on the table still in the roasting pan. The "cracking of the crust" is the most important part of the whole ordeal, it's quite the show!

When your guest have collected and you're ready to dig in use a sharp, serrated knife and cut the crust completely around, close to the bottom. In one smooth motion lift off the crust cap and reveal the beautiful, steaming chicken. I promise you the smell will blow away everyone in the room.

Serve with your choice of classic sides... we did stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce.

Hope this helps if you are in the mood for a lovely festive meal but only have a couple mouths to feed (max 4 people I would say).


1 comment:

Annie said...

Derek. You are the best cook of life. I wish I was as cool as you.