How to make a roast chicken with delicious juicy legs and soft breast meat? The problem with roast chicken is that the breast is done when the meat is 80 C but no more, and the legs are done when they are 95 C or above. If you put the entire chicken in an oven of 220C how are you going to get these two different temperatures right? The authors of the book cook & chemist did all the experimenting for me, I just had to test it for myself.
They suggest that you tie a bag of ice cubes on the chickens breast (be careful the ice does not touch the legs, secure this with some kitchen paper) and leave it outside of the fridge for one hour. This way, the temperature of the breast will become lower (3 C) than the legs (15 C). You place it, breast up, on an oven tray; this way the tray can transfer more heat to the legs. The last tip is to place the tray not in the middle of the oven but a little below the middle so the legs will feel more heat from below and the breast is further from the upper heat (this only works with if you have an oven with upper and lower heating).
Prepare the chicken
happy chicken (free range or something)
bag of ice cubes
Finishing the Bird
big red onion
dried sage and a small bunch of fresh sage
dried thyme and a small bunch of fresh thyme
bottle white wine (not the vinegar type but not an overly sweet one either, there is a lot in between)
This explanation of the temperatures and the ice sounds very plausible to me and I really wanted to do it in this way but I have no freezer so no ice cubes. But… I’m not that easily discouraged! The back of my fridge is freezing ( if I keep my fresh herbs to far back in the fridge they freeze to the shelf) so I used that. I washed the chicken inside and out and pat it dry. I covered it’s legs with kitchen towel and placed it in a plastic back. Here comes the hard part, I had to secure the hen with it breast to the back of the fridge without pressing the legs against it as well. So I made a barricade with beer bottles to keep the bird in place and went on to the next step of the preparation. (If you have ice cubes I suggest you use those)
Finishing the Bird
Preheat the oven to 220 C.
There is not so much to it actually, it is a really simple recipe. Cut the onion in 4 parts and cut one of the parts small. Take the paper of the garlic cloves and crush one with a bit of salt and your knife.
Wash the grapes and the cherry tomatoes.
When the chicken is ready, take it out of the fridge and rub it with butter. Season with pepper and salt, fill the inside with the three onion part, the whole garlic cloves, the fresh thyme and sage and tie the legs together. Sprinkle the outside with a teaspoon of dried thyme and dried sage. Bind the hens legs together, butter the baking tray and place the chicken on it.
Bake the bird for 20 minutes. Take it out of the oven and rub it again with butter and garlic. Poor half of the white wine in the tray and add half of the grapes and half of the tomatoes. Press the grapes a bit. Put the cut onion in the wine.
Bake it for another 55 minutes (or until the breast and legs have the right temperature).
Take the chicken out of the oven and place it on a serving dish. Arrange the grapes and tomatoes around the chicken. Cover it with aluminum foil. Poor the juices from the tray into a skillet and add more wine, also add the other half of the tomatoes and grapes. Add a teaspoon of honey, some dried sage and dried thyme and let the sauce reduce. Poor this sauce over the chicken and serve it like that.