Merrill's baby Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.
Today: The best roast chicken with pan sauce.
I may have mentioned once or twice that my daughter likes chicken. Okay, it goes beyond like -- it's more of a deep-seated obsession. (She asks for it at pretty much every meal.) Clara particularly enjoys eating it off the bone, cave-baby style. It's become quite the challenge to see how many different ways I can prepare chicken, but once a week I roast a bird for the whole family -- we get several meals out of it, and because we're devoted parents, we let Clara have both drumsticks.
Sometimes it feels like there are as many roast chicken recipes out there as there are snowflakes; and no matter how great your favorite is, it's nice to switch it up every now and then. I tend to fiercely embrace a particular technique, then get bored after about six months and move onto the next. It's a little like serial dating.
Thanks to Kim Foster's side-splittingly funny new book, Sharp Knives, Boiling Oil: My Year of Dangerous Cooking with Four-Year-Olds, I've discovered a method that just may convince me to settle down. Aside from the technique itself, which is simple and great, I love Kim's intro to the recipe: she describes her family's weekly roast chicken ritual, which involves hacking up the cooked bird and serving it "in brutally unkempt bites and chunks on a big board," then encouraging everyone use their fingers to dredge the chicken chunks in a delicious pan sauce before devouring them. In her words, "it's a joyful, crispy, hot mess."
"I want a family chicken ritual like that!" I thought when I read it.
Kim's roasting technique is inspired by Thomas Keller's roast chicken (blistering heat, lots of olive oil and salt, and that's pretty much it) and yields an incredibly juicy, tender bird with impossibly crisp skin. But her garlic and herb pan sauce is what really makes this recipe for me. Even if you're convinced your way of making roast chicken is the only way, I strongly urge you to try Kim's. You won't regret it.
The Best Roast Chicken with Garlic and Herb Pan Sauce
Adapted from Sharp Knives, Boiling Oil by Kim Foster
One 3 to 4 pound chicken, preferably organic or free-range, brought to room temperature
Kosher salt (and pepper if you'd like)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large sprigs thyme
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup white wine
Photos by James Ransom