Sure, a chateaubriand or prime rib for two is a romantic meal. And lobster is as decadent and indulgent as a seabug can get. But for my money (and this isn’t a meal that requires a lot) you can’t get more sensual than a roast chicken.
Sensuality – the act of arousing the senses – is a key part of cooking. To fully engage in cooking a recipe you need more than a set of measuring cups and blind faith in the words printed before you. You need to use all your senses. Listen for sizzles or the crackle of bread just pulled out of the oven. Scent the air to tell if what’s in the oven is ready to come out. Look to see what color something in the pan is. Handling things with your bare hands and taking note of the textures.
Good food is about so much more than mere taste.
With this recipe you’ll hear the chicken sizzling away as it finishes its cook. You’ll smell the perfume of roasted chicken as it nears completion. The golden skin will signal delicious completion. And you have to get hands-on when it’s time to carve the bird.
If you’re anything like me you’ll start eating this with the pretense of using silverware but quickly resort to your fingers. There’s also tasty bits for secret snacking while you carve the bird.
As for the more traditional meaning of “sensual”, this is a recipe that takes about three minutes to prepare (only slightly longer if you pare it with a simple salad). It’s fast to prepare and simple to assemble on a plate. That leaves plenty of time and energy for . . . . other things.
This recipe is Thomas Keller’s method, but don’t let that scare you. It’s about as straightforward as a recipe gets.
Easy Roast Chicken
Procs: A cozy meal for two
Time: About an hour (5 minutes prep time, 40 minutes in the oven, 15 minutes cooldown, and 5 minutes to carve)
Challenge Rating: 1/8
- A skillet that can go in the oven (cast iron is perfect)
- A probe thermometer for meat
- Sturdy chef’s knife
- 2-3 lb chicken (smallish is best for serving size, tenderness, and cooking through without other parts being overcooked)
- 1 Tbsp of Kosher Salt
- 1 Tbsp of Thyme Leaves
- Good Salted Butter (Break out the Kerrygold)
- Good Dijon Mustard (I like Maille)
- Preheat oven to 450F.
- Pat the chicken dry from its juices (don’t rinse the chicken) with a paper towel. The more dry, the more browning (and less steaming). Remove any giblets.
- Place the chicken in the skillet. Take the salt and make it snow. You’ll be able to see granules of salt on the skin when the bird is finished cooking. This is a good thing.
- Walk away. Don’t put anything fancy under the skin, in the cavity, or rubbed on top. Just walk away. If you feel the need to fuss over the chicken at this point you can get all Fifty Shades and truss it.
- Put the chicken (and the skillet) in the oven. Leave it there for about 40 minutes or until the probe registers 155F in the breast.
- Take the skillet out of the oven and set it on a trivet or cool stovetop. Transfer the chicken to a cutting or carving board.
- Mix the thyme in the hot chicken juices left in the skillet. Scrape up some of the bits that stuck to the pan.
- Pour the juices over the chicken. Walk away for 15-20 min.
- I mean it. Leave the bird alone.
- Carve the bird. (Or don’t. Any food can be a finger food)
- Separate the middle part of the wing (the flat). Leave the drumette attached. Eat the wing flats right away. Share if you like
- Cut off the tail. Eat this right away. It’s your privilege as chef
- Remove the leg quarters.
- Cut out the spine. Reserve the oysters (the meat between the thigh and the spine). Eat the oysters right away. Share if you like.
- Cut down the breastbone, separating the two breast halves. Leave them on the bone. (With the drumette attached you have made fancy-dancy “airline breasts”)
- Smear butter on the meat. Plate and serve with a generous dollop of Dijon mustard on the side for dipping. Have lots of napkins.
ProTip: In a recipe this straightforward and with this few ingredients you really taste everything. So at the risk of sounding like Ina Garten, good butter and good Dijon mustard are worth it in this recipe.
So, do you have five minutes to throw together a dinner for two?