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Old 12-17-2006, 09:33 AM   #1
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Roast Chicken for the Obsessive-Compulsive

Heston Blumenthal's Roast Chicken recipe is pretty involved to say the least. If you're anal about your roast chicken, this might be something you'll care to try. It goes roughly like this:

1. Brine whole chicken for 6 hours in fridge.

2. Wash chicken and soak in fresh water for 1 hour, changing the water every 15 min.

3. Prepare boiling pot of water and bowl of ice water. Plunge chicken in boiling water 30 seconds, then immerse in ice water. Bring pot of water backto a boil. Repeat the process.

4. Pat chicken dry. Cover with cloth. Place in fridge overnight to dry.

5. Preheat oven to 60C or 140F. Bake chicken on a rack in a pan for 4 to 6 hours until internal temp reaches 60C or 140F.

6. Rest chicken for 1 hour.

7. Meantime, chop up reserved chicken wings and saute in butter. Strain this sauce.

8. Use baster with syringe and inject the sauce into different parts of the chicken.

9. Chicken is now ready to be served.

Reason for posting this is I want to understand why he performs some of above the steps. Heston does not explain why in the book. I hope our knowledgeable friends here could explain. My questions:

A. In step 2, why soak the chicken in fresh water for 1 hour after brining it? Won't this reverse the brining and extract juices out of the chicken?

B. In step 3, why scald and shock the chicken a couple times? It probably has to do with tightening the skin...

C. In step 4, why leave the chicken to dry overnight? Also, won't the brine seep out of the chicken and collect into a pool at the bottom?

See, if all the above steps make sense then maybe I'll try this recipe out one day! Maybe I am OC myself...!

Thanks in advance!


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Old 12-17-2006, 10:25 AM   #2
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Oddly, I read this piece about Hervé This, apparently a great influence on Blumenthal's cooking, if you can call it that. I'm afraid it doesn't explain your chicken question, but it gives you an idea what Blumenthal and others are about:

The man who unboiled an egg | Compare and buy | The Observer

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Old 12-17-2006, 11:26 AM   #3
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You need to wash the chicken really thoroughly to remove the excess brine. If you don't, it will be too salty. I'm not sure about the other steps.
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Old 12-17-2006, 11:44 AM   #4
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I seem to rem seeing something similar being done with Duck, but of course this was Chinese style cooking, I`m fairly sure some of the steps where to make the skin really crispy and it wasn`t just brine that was used but plenty other spices.
Katherine Snow. xx
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Old 12-17-2006, 12:27 PM   #5
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Well, conventional wisdom says cooking chicken at so low for so long is rolling the dice for food poisoning, and that taking it to a mere 140 degrees internal temp likely means bloody pockets (I would think it might be difficult to even achieve a 140 internal when the oven is only 140).

However, I read the article that SnoopPuss posted and was intrigued. This guy must of tried a BUNCH of chickens to come up with this technique, and, as the last line says, he may be changing the cooking as we've known it.

I trust him enough to try it!

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Old 12-17-2006, 12:59 PM   #6
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I'm "anal" about roasting whole chickens as well. It has to be the most frustrating thing I have ever embarked upon.

I like my breastmeat around 165-170F, and the thighmeat at the bone around 180F. But I also like enough heat penetration to melt some of the connective tissues in the thigh as well. I also hate meats that are cooked at various temperatures as you get towards the center (common with cooking at high temps). Of course the skin needs to be crispy too (all over).

I find brining not-necessary if the chicken is not over-cooked. I usually make pan-sauces, so brining isn't an option for me anyways.

The only fool-proof method I have found, is to roast on a rack suspended over a pan, and quarter the bird, starting the thighs early, and flipping the pieces a few times during cooking. I also roast at a temperature just high enough to facilitate browning of the skin.

Lately I've been experimenting with foil triangles and icing the breast meat to retard it's cooking time, allowing the thighs to cook to a higher temp over a longer period of time.

Roasting breast-side down the whole time produces perfect meat throughout, but then the skin on the breasts lack that golden yumminess.
Nick ~ "Egg whites are good for a lot of things; lemon meringue pie, angel food cake, and clogging up radiators." - MacGyver
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Old 12-17-2006, 05:15 PM   #7
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A whole roasted chicken is so lovely, but...I've taken lately to roasting leg quarters and bone in breasts instead. The meat gets done faster and more evenly. You still get the crispy golden skin and the breast meat is juicier because it lays in the pan juices as it cooks. You can also marinate the meat when you do it that way.
Last time, if I remember correctly, we cooked the chicken at 400 for about 1 1/2 hours. We marinated it in Italian dressing, but you could use anything.
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Old 12-17-2006, 05:39 PM   #8
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I did read Heston Blumenthal's Roast Chicken receipe and it is definitely for the Obsessive-Compulsive. I like the way I make my own Roast Chicken and it is a lot easier.

Jill and Jolie
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Old 12-17-2006, 06:21 PM   #9
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I don't know guys. Unless I'm making a special roast chicken recipe, like something requiring a stuffing or special ethnic sauce, I just rinse it, pat it dry, stick a cut up lemon, onion, etc., inside, rub it all over with some extra-virgin olive oil & a sprinkling of dried herbs & shove it into my infamous Ron Popeil "Showtime" (as seen on TV - lol!!) rotisserie for about an hour.

Always comes out perfectly cooked - crisp-skinned, moist, & juicy. Haven't had an overdone or underdone bird yet!! Good old Ron!! Lol!!!

(Oh, & this rotisserie works the exact same magic on ducks as well!! Can't remember the last time I bothered roasting a duck in the oven.)
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Old 12-17-2006, 06:27 PM   #10
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This is not a recipe I'd use. It seems a wee bit nuts.

A lot of recipes tell you not to rinse the bird after brining. I think Cooks Illustrated claims it doesn't make any difference whether you do it or not. I have done it both ways and tend to agree.

It is important to let the brined bird air dry if you want crispy skin. Some recipes tell you to do that overnight. I usually allow 6 hours.

Cooking it at 140 is a recipe for food poisoning, as is eating it cooked to 140 internal.

Less is not more. More is more and more is fabulous.
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