One-Pot Roast Chicken

Alice Waters and the other coordinators of the 2008 San Francisco Slow Food Nation conference included a demonstration kitchen that they named “the Green Kitchen.” The goal of the Green Kitchen was to demonstrate the “set of basic techniques that are universal to all cuisines” that “once learned by heart … free cooks from an overdependence on recipes and a fear of improvisation.” A roster of notable cooks gave the demonstrations, which were photographed and recorded. In the Green Kitchen (book number 9) presents the key lessons of each cook’s demonstrations along with recipes illustrating them. This book is very similar in tone to The Art of Simple Food (book number 5) emphasizing simple, healthful, delicious home cooking.

Although we already have a go-to roast chicken recipe, from The Art of Simple Food, Thomas Keller’s One-Pot Roast Chicken in this book had a few twists that were new to us, so we decided to give it a try. The big differences from our usual roast chicken recipe in terms of prep were removing the wishbone before roasting, to make carving the breast easier, and trussing the bird, which I’ve always been too lazy to do, to plump up the breast and bring the legs into position for even roasting. We de-wishboned and trussed a lovely three pound chicken from Pine Tree Poultry, rained salt and freshly ground pepper over it, and nestled it in the roasting pan on a bed of herbs and vegetables. Keller calls for potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, shallots, bay leaves, and thyme. We also added some optional turnips, golden beets, Brussels sprouts, and parsnips. More salt and pepper, an anointing of butter, and into the oven. Unlike our usual recipe, which requires starting the bird breast up, flipping it over 20 minutes into roasting, and then turning it breast up again to finish, Keller’s version is entirely hands off, so the bird just roasts upright on its nest of vegetables until it is golden brown and delicious.

And our chicken did come out golden brown and delicious with juicy meat throughout. I think the trussing did make a difference in the evenness of the roasting, and it really only takes a few seconds, so that’s a keeper. I’m not sure about removing the wishbone before roasting, but it smelled so good, and we were so anxious to eat, that my carving was not its most refined. The big surprise, though, and one of the stars of the meal, was the roasted celery. All of the vegetables were good, but the flavor of the celery concentrated by the dry heat of the oven was a revelation. We’ll definitely be including some celery in our roasties going forward.

Up next: My Pantry.

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