Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spit Roast Chicken 'French Style' with Buttered Parsley Arborio

I've been meaning to blog about the recipe for some time, what is for me probably my absolute most favourite way of cooking a chicken. To be honest, I have blogged about it before, but I never included enough detail last time to let anyone else recreate it in this style - here's hoping I can do better this time.

If I'm totally honest it's not 100% my recipe - though that said I've never actually seen any other recipe for it, or even like it really. It was inspired by a meal I had in a French bistro in Albert back in the Summer of 2007, and I was so struck by it that when I returned to the UK I had to try and recreate it - so this is my version of what I had then.

The core of the recipe is cooking the chicken relatively hot and fast on a spit over a roasting pan, and then using what drips into that pan during the cooking time to make a jus (has to be a jus, it is a French recipe after all) to serve with the meat. To me it's also critical that it's served with arborio rice which has been cooked till light and fluffy, lightly buttered and mixed with plenty of chopped parsley.

The Recipe

First off, the chicken. Doesn't really matter how large, but what is important is that you trim off any extraneous fat, and make sure that plenty of air can get blown into the birds cavity by trimming around that as well. I do this on the spit attachment in my oven, which doesn't turn, but as it's a fan oven air is blown all through and over the bird giving something like a spit effect. Once it's trimmed and on the spit it needs a tablespoon or so of olive oil rubbed all over it, and a generous seasoning with salt & pepper inside and out.

Preparing the bird for the oven

Now get it into an oven, and make sure there's that tray underneath to catch the juices. If you don't have a spit you can try and cook it on a grill with a tray underneath, but the key is still to try and make sure that air can flow freely all around the bird.

In the oven, ready to roast

I roast it in a 180ÂșC fan oven for about 15 mins per pound - might take a little longer/shorter in yours, if in doubt go a little over as ever with chicken, provided you let it rest properly it should be fine. One other little note - try and get the bird to hang downwards for the longest part of the cooking process. Basically you want the breasts to be facing down so that juices flow back into them, especially during the rest.

One cooked chicken, ready to get the tray out for gravy, ermm, jus

Once the cooking time is up you can remove the tray from the oven, which should now be full of crispy stuff and fat. The bird can stay in the oven as it cool,s provided you leavethe door ajar. You can tip most of the fat away from the tray, what we're after is the crispy stuff. The trick now is to get that tray onto the stove, add some stock, and transform it into a wonderful chickeny sauce.

Making the jus

Now for the rice - which you'll need to get started before the jus thing above. Using arborio is also a bit odd I know, but bear with me, it's very tasty. You need to cook it like long grain rice, so for me that means washing it thoroughly first in cold water, then boiling it in plenty of well salted water for about 15 minutes till tender, and then washing it again when it's ready with fresh boiling water from the kettle. Now leave to stand for a minute or so with the lid on to drain, back into the pan (once you've thrown away the any remaining water) and add a few dollops of butter and plenty of chopped fresh parsley and leave that to melt in.

Serving the bird - legs only!

I've always preferred legs, so this recipe is perfect for me as you only serve the legs, which leaves the breasts for sandwiches another day or loads of other tempting leftover treats. This time around I also did this with vichy carrots (well, a sort of vichy carrots anyhow) which worked really well I'm happy to say. When I had it in Albert it just served as chicken, rice and jus, but the carrots worked so well they'll probably become part of the dish for me I think.

The finished dish


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