That there phrase could be a high compliment depending on the bird in question.
I believe that the litmus test to a great restaurant or chef is how good their chicken is. Chicken can be a sublime experience if it is wrangled correctly and it usually isn’t.
I ordered the chicken at Chez Papa the other day and it was delicious, moist and perfectly seasoned. It rested on a bed of piperade, chorizo and potatoes and shined regardless of it’s very tasty bedfellows. My lunch partner that day is a cook book editor for a very notable publisher. I mentioned my chicken theory to him and he agreed. He then went on to tell me that he had taken his wife to one of Mario Batali’s restaurants in New York that specializes in fish and his wife ordered chicken. He said that he almost killed her until she defended her case. She said that if you order chicken at a really great restaurant, it will surely be the best chicken you’ve ever had. I agree.
I am not going to talk your ear off about the lovely chickens of my past, but I will mention the chicken at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. It serves two, takes an hour and costs $48 dollars (yowza). It is roasted in a wood burning oven and served with a Tuscan bread salad that is laced with currants and pine nuts. My mouth is watering as I write this. Only minutes after arriving at your table the toasty and oily little bread chunks soak up some of the natural chicken juices and the symphony of flavors begins.
Please comment on this post and let me know what great chickens you have eaten and if you have special tips for making a great bird at home. I will include some tips of my own below.
$$– Spend a couple more dollars to get natural or organic chicken. You can even get one at Trader Joes.
BRINE your bird or simply rub some sea salt and a bit of sugar on it an hour before cook time then rinse and pat dry. Brining helps with moisture and flavor. There are tons of brine recipes, but I prefer less ingredients and steps.
HIGH HEAT- I like to roast mine at 450-475 for 20 minutes and then cook at 375 for the rest of the time depending on the size of the chicken. I don’t put any oil/butter on my chicken. Chicken skin is pretty fatty on it’s own. The high heat cooks the skin fast which creates a shrink wrap effect around the chicken so the meat inside almost steams and the skin gets super crispy. Don’t poke or puncture your chicken. It will release all the fabulous steam and juice.
Cluck cluck. Thank you for reading!