Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Crisp Savory Roast Chicken

[Photograph: John Kernick]

Over the past few months it's become pretty clear that finding out how chefs roast their chickens is high on our lists. So when we came across Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Crisp Savory Roast Chicken in his latest cookbook, Home Cooking with Jean-Georges, of course we had to share it with all of you.

Unlike the barebones simplicity of Michael Ruhlman's method, Jean-Georges goes with a more involved chicken roasting technique that infuses the bird with tons of flavor as well as that chicken-y goodness that we're always looking for. The recipe begins with a herb, salt, and brown sugar brine that includes the curious addition of kombu, a thick seaweed that imparts a whole lot of umami. Once brined, thyme, rosemary, basil, garlic, and lemon are placed into the cavity and the chicken is trussed and roasted at a fairly low 350°F until juices run clear.

At this point you might notice a considerable lack of deep brown, crackly skin, even though the chicken is cooked through. No need to fret; that's because you're not quite done. Jean-Georges finishes his roasted chicken by quartering it and letting the pieces crisp up under the broiler, in essence brûléeing the chicken for optimal skin crispiness. This extra step ensures that pretty much every bit of the chicken's surface area is cooked to golden perfection with no hidden bits of flabby skin to be found.

And when it comes time to carve and eat, you'll find that not only is your whole bird burnished and beautiful but the flesh is flavored through and juicy with all of the salty-herbal qualities of the brine, and they really do come though in a lovely and delicate way.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Home Cooking with Jean-Georges to give away this week.

Adapted from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Copyright © 2011. Published by Clarkson Potter. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved

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Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Crisp Savory Roast Chicken

About This Recipe

Yield:4
Active time:1 hour
Total time:1 hour plus 12 hours brining time
This recipe appears in: Cook the Book: 'Home Cooking with Jean-Georges'

Ingredients

  • Brine
  • 12 sprigs fresh thyme 
  • 7 stems fresh basil 
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary 
  • 3 (9 × 6-inch) sheets konbu 
  • 1 lemon, halved 
  • 1 cup kosher salt 
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar 
  • Chicken 
  • 1 whole (3-pound) chicken, preferably free-range 
  • 1 lemon, halved, plus wedges for serving 
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed 
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary 
  • 1 stem fresh basil 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 

Procedures

  1. 1

    To prepare the brine, crush the thyme, basil, and rosemary with your hands and drop into a large, deep bowl or pot. Add the konbu, lemon, salt, sugar, and 1 gallon hot water. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Set inside a large bowl of ice and water (or simply refrigerate) and stir until cool. 

  2. 2

    Completely submerge the chicken in the brine. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 12 hours.

  3. 3

    To roast the chicken, preheat the oven to 350°F. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.

  4. 4

    Remove the chicken from the brine; discard the brine. Use paper towels to pat the chicken completely dry. Stuff with the lemon, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and basil. Truss the chicken by tying together the legs and securing the wings against the body with kitchen twine. Use a sharp knife to score each leg and thigh with 3 long cuts, each ½ inch deep, to ensure that the dark meat is cooked through before the breast dries out. Rub 1 teaspoon oil all over the chicken and set it on the rack.  

  5. 5

    Place in the oven, cavity side facing front

  6. 6

    Roast for 25 minutes, then rotate the pan and roast for 20 minutes longer. Raise the oven temperature to 375°F and roast for 10 minutes longer or until the juices run clear when you tip the chicken. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes. 

  7. 7

    Heat the oven to broil. Arrange the oven rack 6 inches from the heat source. 

  8. 8

    Cut the chicken into 4 pieces (2 breasts, 2 whole legs). Return to the rack, skin side up. Drizzle with a little oil, then broil until the skin is crackling and crisp, about 2 minutes. 

  9. 9

    Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and pour the pan juices all over. Sprinkle with pepper and serve with lemon wedges.

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