Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Getting Under the Skin for Great Big, Beautiful, Buttery Breasts!

Yes, this is the actually photo of my Thanksgiving turkey. It was probably the most perfect looking bird I've ever roasted, and I owe it all to a simple trick that I usually use on roast chicken. It's putting a flavored "compound" butter under the skin before cooking. Here is a link to the recipe that I just posted on my American Food site.

Below is the video recipe I did of the chicken demo, which uses a different butter mixture, but shows the same technique. By the way a compound butter is just a fancy culinary term for a flavored butter. Enjoy!


30 comments:

Bill W, NH said...

well I thought I had the perfect turkey until seeing your chicken video a few months back, that worked so well on a chicken that I did include it in my turkey, I used the same ingredients but multiplied the amounts by 4. My girlfriend and I catered Thanksgiving for a family of 25 and they loved loved loved the turkey. I brine for 48 hours beforehand, stuff with citrus fruits and onions (not to be eaten), and cook in a oven roeasting bag, you cannot fail with this method. Thanks again Chef John!!!
the catering was our first ever and it was received very well, our only mistake was in not charging enough money for our services, live and learn.

Chef John said...

Great to hear! Yes, and regarding catering pricing...been there. Raise your prices!

SteamyKitchen said...

that's the finest poultry porn I've ever seen!

;-)
j

Chef John said...

im glad i was able to steam your kitchen!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you could show a carving video, I just finished it, and butchered my poor chicken

Blood Red Roses said...

My turkey this year was butter injected. I don't know which method works better, there's no room for herbs with the injection method. The turkey was really juicy though, and the gravy that came from the drippings was the most delicious I've ever had!

nikkipolani said...

Thank you for the great tips. I'm very interested in the silicon spatula you showed but have not seen one quite like it sold anywhere. Can you tell me where you got yours?

Chef John said...

i believe it's from bed bath beyond, but you can get one from williams sonoma maybe, or sur la tab,etc. or online pretty easily from any of the kitchen sites.

Amy said...

I've checked Williams Sonoma, Sura La Table, Crate & Barrel, and Amazon. Will check BBB. Thanks again.

Chef John said...

Here is the URL to the actual maker of the tool:
http://www.chefn.com/products/switchit/dual_ended_small_spatula.html

Chef John said...

Not sure about a carving video, but more importantly...what did it taste like?? I love moist, tasty chicken no matter how hacked up it is!

Scott - Boston said...

Hey Chef,
Just letting you know that today I ordered a couple of your t-shirts for the holidays to give as gifts. I wish I could give more as I obviously dig your site, but music just doesn't pay all that well (surprise, surprise).
But I suggest others do the same! I mean, c'mon! The shirts make great gifts and support the site! It's a win-win-win. I mean, have y'all tasted this chicken?!? Fantastically fantastic chicken. The best I've ever made. Honest!

Terrific little title for today too. That paired with the Ron Jeremy clip a couple of days ago has me wondering what's next for the site. Possibly a tutorial video from Pee Wee Herman on how to specially butter your movie theater popcorn! Oww! Oww! Owwww!

... thank you... thank you...

From one struggling artist to another : Happy Holidays.

Scott - Boston

Anonymous said...

Oh it was amazing, for the compound butter, i used dijon mustard, green onion, thyme and orange zest (weird combo, but delicious) I think that I might cover it with foil next time for 20 min or so, since it was a little bloody inside

Chef John said...

Scott - thanks for the support and all your witty comments this year. Pee Wee would be proud! BTW, the only thing Mr. Jeremy taught me was to keep my hair short and neatly trimmed.

Chef JP said...

I used compound butter under the skin when roasting a turkey-- it's the way to go definitely. Great post---thanks!

Anonymous said...

I've seen many many roasting chicken's recipes.. this one is the best of the best so far.. greato !

Ricardo said...

Chef John:

Did you ever do the pan sauce with teh drippings of this get under the skin chicken that you promised - well mentioned - on the clip?

Chef John said...

yes
http://foodwishes.blogspot.com/2007/04/roast-chicken-pan-gravy-getting-to.html

Anonymous said...

Chef John:

How many pounds is the gorgeous little chicken?


Ruth Ann
Bethesda, Md.

Chef John said...

it's about 3 1/2 lbs.

Anonymous said...

I've been roasting chicken for years, myself raised on the farm and learning country style food preparation early in life; mostly as a boy watching a grandmother who lived with us and mom cook together while discussing family trade secrets. (btw, as I write this, I am warming a dinner of left over chicken, after executing your marvelous recipe yesterday on a 1.79 kilo farm raised bird (3.9 lbs).

I saw the UTube version of the "ultimate" roast chicken and then today found your blog. Consequently I am cooking tonight's mashed potatoes 'not on a rolling boil' and after 'cutting each potato symmetrically down the middle', (as opposed to the quartering I have been doing for 30 some years); and thank you Chef John for that.

The combination of cooking time, one hr, and temperature of 400 F equated to 165 internal temperature and proved your time and temp (for a 4lb bird) to be a precise fit for my oven (and altitude); however the skin was not roasted quite enough. I removed the bird anyway at the 56 min mark, after basting at the 45 min mark (timer was halted during basting).

I put the chicken back into the oven following the set-up period in order to crisp the skin. After the bird sat wrapped in foil for 20-25 min, I dialed up the temp to 500 and using a second 12" cast iron skillet, placed the (unwrapped) bird back in the over for about 5 min. After this quick blast of heat the skin was perfectly finished and crispy. This variation of crisping the skin on a reheat step was a last minute afterthought, but produced a good result.

Side note on cavity salting and potential unintended consequences to gravy: I poured the juices (twice), formed while the bird set up, into the pan gravy, as I usually do. When using course salt (or better kosher salt) on the cavity, the action of adding salty juices released from the bird's set-up stage does increase gravy salinity (and there's the rocket science part). I have learned how to condition the gravy to a saltier flavor simply by adding to the pan the juices shed thru the bird's set-up period; added at intervals to taste-test while doing so.

Adding salt to pan gravy is always a careful process, where if you pass the threshold of good taste, there is no going back. I haven’t added 'table salt' to chicken gravy for some years because adding those juices (with cavity salted bird ) weeping from the bird in set-up stage always suffice.

On a finer point regarding salt type, it took me a long time to learn that kosher salt is better for this purpose. For a long while I had used the less expensive and courser sea salt – whereas the kosher salt (a bit finer in grain than sea salt) is the better product for foul cavity salting. I am now thinking why did I ever compromise on salt type verses price, when a one kilo box, a three-year kosher salt supply costs only $2.00 more.. laughably dumb on my behalf.

I ran into a small operational problem at the gravy making stage, mentioned because it offers an improvisation. When I reached for the chicken stock cubes, they weren't there – none. I instantly found some backup with a can of chicken rice vegetable soup stuck away in the pantry. It worked splendidly in the pinch, drained of all matter leaving just the stock. I used half the can of soup stock in the pan gravy and the following day used the remainder of chicken soup stock in the gravy re-heat program.

I'd like to emphasize that your presentation of this meal helped me greatly. I was reminded that less is often more, where combining flavours and textures is concerned. This meal works great with just mashed potatoes and a green vegetable like asparagus (bit of lemon drizzled on). Superb gravy is essential of course, and your gravy technique is just perfect. After 30 years of roasting chickens many different ways, I completely concur, yours is the ultimate method.

Cheers, and kudos on the fantastic blog work!

James in Ontario

Anonymous said...

Hello Chef -

I tried this recipe today and truly loved it. Couple of issues arose which I was hoping you could answer:

1. Instead of using butter, I used olive oil. I found that the skin was not crispy and was wondering if using olive oil could have caused that? If not any thoughts on why the skin did not crisp up?
2. I found that the breast had dried up a bit. Not sure how to get over that hump the next time. I used pretty much the same sized chicken as in the video.

Thanks much in advance...AP

Chef John said...

unfortunately, impossible for me to tell you. Olive oil does not lift the skin like the solid butter, but that's the only different. People have reported success with OO. The skin never gets crispy, crispy, like chips. Just brown and sorta crisp. Could be the bird, your oven, the pan, so many variables. You can't go by time, you need to take it out when it's done. I would get a thermometer if you don't have one.

Chef John said...

Go for 165 Degrees in the middle of the thickest part of the thigh.

Michael Ngo said...

hi, I just saw this video now, I'm not sure if you still see comments. I was wondering if that butter mixture makes it to the dark meat, as I am a big fan of dark meat also. Is it worthwhile to try and stuff the mixture under the dark meat as well?

Chef John said...

The dark meat doesn't really need it, but you can get some under the thigh skin

Chef John said...

The dark meat doesn't really need it, but you can get some under the thigh skin

Chef John said...

I would think a bit less, but I've never tested one that size.

Johnny B said...

I realize I am way behind the boat on this one... but here is what I do with using the same technique. With the compound butter I mix chopped sage, brown sugar, and plenty of cracked pepper. Layer a couple strips of bacon across the breast (usually using maple or peppered bacon) and if i feel up to it make a maple syrup water glaze. Makes the whole house smell like Xmas morning

Anonymous said...

John your great and so are your meals but this site is so dam usless. do you not have a site just with you on it i end up with all sorts of things popping up from other things , not yours.
i can not find the things tou refer to and end up not being able to link to your links .
Please say that you have a site that is not connecter to the her chanel thing
Richard..