I was recently in London visiting my dear friend and mentor Anne Willan. I had such a memorable time. Anne never fails to teach me something. It’s amazing the life lessons I learn over an espresso.
In my career I have probably cooked 5,000 chickens. At Anne's new and oh-so-pretty flat it was my job to “baste the chicken.” Easy, except when I cook around Anne I turn into an idiot. I am frozen with fear. I don’t know why. I‘ve cooked for the last four (oops make that five) presidents of the United States and not one of them made me nervous! I guess that means I didn’t care what they thought of me. LOL. I care very much that Anne thinks I’m a good cook.
Anne’s new oven is convection. She’s finding it a challenge. I’m using that as my excuse for the chicken coming out not quite cooked enough when I said it was.
The skin was crispy and brown but when we went to carve it the leg joints were too pink. I had pricked the legs and juices were clear but when Anne tipped the chicken sideways and the juices ran out of the cavity she knew I was wrong. I had never seen the sideways chicken trick before. I was astonished.
So, I had watched Anne roast the perfect chicken. Now I needed to redeem myself, if only to myself! When I got home from London I bought a 3 1/2 pound organic whole chicken and proceeded to recreate that crispy, buttery and perfectly cooked bird.
ANNE'S SIDEWAYS CHICKEN:
1. Place a 3-4 pound chicken in a roasting dish. (I lightlysalted the cavity.)
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
3. Take European butter and nestle thick slices in between the legs and sides. The chicken is breast up (see photo).
4. As the butter melts, the underside of the chicken turns golden brown.
5. About 30 minutes in, flip the chicken to breast-side down. I added a tiny ladle of stock to the pan. You could also use water or wine. This is so my crispy skin doesn't stick.
6. After another 25-30 minutes I put my tongs in the cavity and tipped the chicken sideways (Anne’s trick) to check the juices. Mine were pinkish so I turned it breast-side up and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Bravely basting, of course.
7. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.
8. I made a gravy with the pan drippings and then carved my delicious, crispy skinned chicken. Breast was moist and legs juicy.
I recorded a WBACA podcast episode about my trip. It drops later this month. Give it a listen!