I love Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It’s the best – no frills and completely accessible. Julia Child took what was typically considered a very high end and difficult form of cooking, and turned it into something any American housewife could make. Or a single Canadian girl, as it may be. Videos of her show, The French Chef, are up on Youtube. If you haven’t ever seen her in action, I highly recommend it.
Back to my attempts mastering the art of French cooking. I had an organic chicken in my freezer that I hadn’t used. My sister (who is now my roommate) and I had tried cooking a whole chicken in a slow cooker one day. It was an absolute failure – dry and flavourless. We thought maybe roasting it would yield better results. Enter Julia. I used a variation of her recipe, but went a bit rogue on the dressing, because I really needed to use the lemons and herbs that were in my fridge before they went bad.
Here’s my take on the Roasted Chicken from Mastering the Art of French Cooking:
1 whole chicken (mine was just over 1 kg)
Salt and pepper
5-8 cloves of garlic (intense, I know, but worth it)
Fresh thyme and marjoram
At least 3 lemons
One yellow onion
Preheat your oven to 425. Place the chicken breast up in a shallow roasting pan.This is the fun part – dressing the bird. First, take few tablespoons of butter and smear it…inside the chicken. Take a handful of marjoram and thyme and stuff that inside with a few slices of lemon. This is the point at which Julia suggests trussing the chicken (sewing up its behind). I didn’t have time for that and I didn’t have string. You’ll see what happened. Truss your chicken – at the very least, tie its legs up.
I halved 5 cloves of garlic. Then I randomly pierced the skin of the chicken and stuck the garlic under the skin. I dabbed a few pats of butter over the chicken (wings and thighs too). It will help your chicken brown. I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper, covered it with thin slices of lemon and the herbs. The lemon will caramelize and tastes amazing with the chicken, so fit as many slices as possible on the chicken. Here’s what mine looked like:
Looks amazing, right? I cut up potatoes, carrots and onion, and scattered them in the roasting pan with more herbs, the rest of the garlic, and more lemon slices. Then I squeezed half a lemon and drizzled olive oil over the vegetables so that you will have juices for basting.
Place the chicken in the oven. Julia says middle rack. I went with the top because I was too lazy to move my oven racks, then put it on the bottom rack for the last half hour of cooking. Your chicken will be fine, whatever you do.
Cook for 15 minutes. Then baste the chicken, and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Let the chicken cook for an hour and 15 minutes (adjust according to the actual size of your chicken). Baste the chicken with the pan juices every ten minutes so it doesn’t dry out. This is really important. My chicken was moist and juicy because I spent an hour reading in my kitchen in order to baste regularly.
The chicken is done when you pierce the thigh and clear, yellowish liquid runs out. It will look like this, and your kitchen will smell unbelievable:
Let it sit for a few minutes so you don’t burn yourself when you go to carve it.
And then eat yo heart out.
**But have not yet mastered the art of french cooking.