I've been a little Paris-obsessed lately, with having read Insatiable (where Gael Greene recounts her many gastronomic trips to the city of lights) and Julia Child's My Life in France. I've never been a Paris freak...until now.
Now, I feel that tug towards Paris. Just a tad late...a couple good friends of mine from high school just moved back after living in Paris for a few years. Damn!
So, I've tried to fulfill my Paris longing with French films (like Paris, Je T'Aime) and foods...hence the Boeuf Bourguignon.
In both books, the authors mention roasted chicken as the quintessential French dish. While I've roasted chickens and turkeys before, I'd never cooked a fresh, farm-raised chicken. That's why I decided to drive out to Benne's farm earlier this week. Julia goes on and on in her memoir about how fresh, organic chickens taste better--more "chickeny"--than supermarket birds. I wanted to see if that was true.
Plus, I have just read through Nigel Slater's Appetite, in which he has a recipe for "classic, unmucked-about-with roast chicken". He writes, "Don't believe any of the smart-arse recipes you see for roast chicken. This is the one. Basic roast chicken, its skin crisp and buttery, its juices savory and aromatic--and quite possibly the best meal in the world." How could I not try that?
Since I wanted to taste the chickenyness of my bird, I dressed it simply with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, & lemon. I cooked it at 375 for 1 hour, rotating the pan occasionally but not turning the bird (as Julia and Alice Waters suggest) or basting (which Slater doesn't deem necessary). While the skin browned and crisped nicely, the meat wasn't quite done after an hour.
So, I put it back in and check it every 10 minutes or so. I took it out after another 45 minutes. At this point, I think it was a little too done; the meat was kind of tough. Although, I don't know if it was overcooked or if that's just how the meat in fresh birds taste, as I was told by Jolene that her birds have a denser meat than grocery store brands.
My roasted chicken was far from the best meal in the world. In fact, I hate to admit it, but those rotisserie chickens you can buy at the supermarket deli...there are better than the chicken I roasted last night.