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Cook the Book: Perfect Roasted Chicken

[Photograph: Donna Turner Ruhlman]

For this week's Cook the Book we are going to serve up a complete chicken dinner from Michael Ruhlman's newly released Ruhlman's Twenty. The first order of business is obviously the chicken, in this case a chicken called "Perfect Roasted Chicken," (a pretty high bar to set for any recipe title). Since Ruhlman's Twenty is, at its heart, a technique cookbook, let's talk about the three elements that go into roasting a perfect chicken, according to Ruhlman: seasoning, oven temperature, and juiciness.

First off is seasoning and in Ruhlman's recipe, he keeps it dead simple. Just salt. A generous application of salt means not only tasty bird but one with the crispiest skin due to the dehydrating qualities of salt.

Next up is cooking temperature, Ruhlman keeps the oven at a hotter than your normal roasting temp, 425°F to 450°F. This high heat roasting equals a shorter roasting time that contributes not only to that wonderfully crisp skin but also less of a chance for the less fatty parts of the chicken to dry out.

And finally, concerning the dryness factor, there's the issue of trussing. By trussing your chicken (or stuffing a lemon or onion inside), you are sealing up the cavity so that less air has a chance to get in there and cooking the chicken from the inside as well as the outside.

So, the question here is is this really the perfect roast chicken? I'm going with an overwhelming yes for a couple of reasons. It's the simplest roast chicken that's ever come out of my kitchen and as far as fantastic chicken flavor goes—juicy interior and cracklingly crisp skin—it's really spot on, and dare I say perfect. Not overly fancy, but with a chicken that tastes this good, extra add-ins like herbs and aromatics aren't really necessary.

In fact, the only thing that improves this roast chicken is Ruhlman's awesome Pan Sauce but you'll have to wait for tomorrow for that one.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Ruhlman's Twenty to give away this week.

Adapted from Ruhlman's Twenty by Michael Ruhlman. Copyright © 2011. Published by Chronicle Books. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved

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