Monday, July 27, 2009

A Chicken for Julia

This video recipe for roasted chicken with watercress is dedicated to the late, great Julia Child. Today, Food Wishes is the Julie & Julia (a new film starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child) Blog of the Day, and I decided to feature my favorite Julia Child recipe to celebrate this great honor.

We're all familiar with the question, "If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) to dinner, who would they be? For me, that's an easy one, it's Leonardo da Vinci, Joseph Campbell, and Julia Child.

Since this is a food blog, I won't expand on the first two choices, although if you're familiar with their work, they're pretty easy to understand. As far as choosing Julia Child goes, that's an absolute no-brainer.

My decision to become a chef was a direct result of my childhood fixation with watching her cook on The French Chef. I'm sure I saw every show she did, and would watch, and re-watch the reruns with undiminished delight.

She was as enigmatic as she was iconic. She was America's most famous French chef, and yet she was neither French, nor a chef. Her cookbooks contained some of the most complicated recipes ever published, yet she adored simple food.

At a time when the country was just becoming health conscience, Julia Child was publicly outraged McDonald's had decided to stop cooking their French fries in beef tallow.

She stubbornly refused to jump on the organics bandwagon, and was heard to ask on numerous occasions, "what's so great about a free-range chicken walking around in its own droppings?"

She certainly wouldn't have been considered what today we call Locavores. She was once asked what vegetable she'd want on the plate for her last meal. She said, "Asparagus…no matter what season it is."

So, while the guest list to my dream dinner party would be relatively easy, the much harder question is what would I serve? Da Vinci was history's greatest mooch, so he'd eat anything. Joseph "follow your bliss" Campbell never struck me as a picky eater, so I guess it would have come down to what to serve Julia.

I believe that if I'd ever had the opportunity to cook for her, I would have served this roasted chicken recipe. The fact it's from one of her cookbooks helps, but more than that, this was the kind of cooking she most loved. Rustic, simple, big flavors, rough around the edges -- a plate of food you don't have to think about to enjoy.

This recipe is from her cookbook, Cooking with Master Chefs, from the chapter with Jeremiah Tower. My wife Michele introduced this recipe to me, and we've been enjoying it, almost exactly as you'll see, for many, many years. I really hope you give it a try. Bon appetit!

Click here for more information about Julie & Julia.



Ingredients:
5 lb whole chicken
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
3 lemons, halved
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
6 cloves garlic, crushed, unpeeled
1 onion, sliced
olive oil as needed
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
2 tbsp walnut or hazelnut oil
2 bunch watercress

Top Photo (c) PBS.org

60 comments:

Asian Malaysian said...

What, no butter? I kid! The chicken looks great. I had the film's website on a separate window while watching your video so I could hear the movie's theme song being played in the background while you narated the recipe. It fit so well, I initially didnt realise the music wasnt part of your video. Chef John, you are our Julia Child. ok, just how badly did that come out?

Sleeping Rooster said...

Very nice commentary for your Monday post on Julia Child. In honor of your honor, being named Blog of the Day by Sony Pictures, your comments are well written, interesting, personal and heartfelt, and it goes without saying the recipe looks delish!

Anonymous said...

Hey, love the chicken recipe, BUT where's the peach tartlet you promised?

Anonymous said...

Julia would have roasted a Bresse chicken, I'm sure.

Yours, however, looks wonderful.

tonkaslim said...

This looks delicious. We frequently do an indoor picnic dinner of roast chicken, baguette, spreadable cheese, apple or grapes and roasted cashews. The cashews round out the flavors and textures perfectly. Try it! Add a big fruity zinfandel and you have our all-time favorite meal. Can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks Chef.

Jason Farmer said...

Joseph Campbell?! Amazing!

When I first saw 'The Power of Myth' it changed my life and radically altered the way I understood religious myths. He was an amazing man and would definitely be near the top of my list of historical personalities to chat with.

I still love your blog. Keep up the great work, Chef!

Anonymous said...

Excellent video! Very well filmed and presented :)

kristent said...

Congratulations on your delicious blog! looks so great and yummy!

Basia said...

To get the caramelized juices out of a roasting pan that is NOT flameproof, if your pan is small enough and/or your microwave is large enough, you can heat the pan with the liquid addition to help loosen the pan drippings.

Sooo proud of you, Chef John! You always inspire! Bon appetit indeed!

msbooch75 said...

Kudos to you, Chef John. Your recipes show your insight into what we love to read from you. Now you are recognized once again. Fantastic news!

Anonymous said...

Great clip! I, too, was looking forward to the Peach Tartlet recipe clip today. I know you're a busy man, so I'll patiently await your posting of it.

:o)

Take care and keep us smiling!!!

Anonymous said...

You can keep watching Julia! The French Chef is available on DVD... I found it at my library and still love watching her... over and over and over.

DeLynn said...

DROOL!!!
I am going to make CERTAIN to make this sometime.

How long would you cook it for a smaller hen?

Chef John said...

depends on how small. use a thermometer.

tut said...

Wow just finished making the chicken the sauce is great Chef John thx.The chicken is a delite.made Jill Dupleix's crashed hot potatoes and some snow peas in butter ginger fresh five spice stufs to go with it,what a great meal.Your the best Chef.

tut said...

P.S. from when I walked in the door with chicken an potatoes an beans not even ten minutes to prep and I pealed the garlic case someone (me) wants to eat it lol.can take that long to put an order in at a fast food place.Thx again.

Minh "Sa" Chau said...

Hey Chef John! do you have a specific website where you get your sound clips and music?
I would love to know for my videos.

Chef John said...

the music comes from the iMovie software package. I just search for free sound bites on google. I don't have any specific sites. I don't even remember where the julia PBS clip was from.

blogagog said...

Just a fyi, she was Julia Child, not Julia Childs, and it's watercress, not watercrest.

This meal looks fantastic! Sadly, we can't get watercress down here in the Louisiana boondocks. If you had to pick another green, what would it be?

Chef John said...

Yeah, I know, that's why I wrote Child and watercress in the post! where do you see childs and crest?

not sure, watercress is pretty unique, I guess arugula. ...or move to a city.

Wordsmiths in the woodwork said...

LOL That is too funny; someone from Louisiana correcting the pronunciation of someone from New York! Have you heard our governor say California?

blogagog said...

I didn't see you misspell anything, chef. But if you re-watch the video, you'll see where I got it from. No big deal though. I just thought you didn't know.

Ouch, wordsmith. Why so anti-Louisiana?

Chef John said...

yes, no big deal... saying it's one thing, but the post is a pretty good indication that I knew the correct words.

Anonymous said...

Chef John,
If I wanted to roast two whole chickens each weighing 5 pounds at the same time in the oven. How long would I need to cook them for and do I need to adjust the temperature?

Chef John said...

they may take a little longer, but you can't rely on time, start checking the temp after 1 hr 15 min and shoot for 170 degrees internal temp

Anonymous said...

Oh no, Blogalog, I love to hear the drawl of Louisiana speak, and I find New Yorkers just as much fun to listen to, so my comment meant that each has a very distinct "sound," but neither is more correct, than the other.

shailesh online! said...

hello
thank you so much for sharing such a great recipe. i have followed your instructions and have the chicken in the oven as i am typing. hopefully i will be able to send you some pictures in the next couple of hours.
Shai from Mauritius

shailesh online! said...

hi chef john
it took nearly two hours for the chicken to cook, most probably because of the type of oven which i have but the end result was really good for a first try. however the onions did not caramelized at the bottom of the pan. i used gas mark 7 to cook the chicken so i guess next time i will use gas mark 8. how can i send you the pictures of my first roast chicken? once again, thanks very much for sharing the recipe. mum, dad and my little sister enjoyed it a lot. ta!

Anonymous said...

This looks wonderful and I've got the chicken in the oven right now! Question: should you baste the chicken while it's cooking? You don't mention that in the video.

Margaret said...

I came across your recipe on YouTube - i love a roast chicken - and loved the sound of this fresh recipe. I made it for my family for lunch today and was not disappointed - it was so easy and tastie the green salad (I used rocket as watercress is not easily available here in Malta - the peppery taste of the rocket was excellent). Chef John - I am now a committed fan of yours - your no-nonsense and easy going instructions are a joy to listen to and follow.
This meal is a must!

Anonymous said...

I made this dish last night and it was a hit! The chicken was moist and juicy and the au jus from it was amazing! Instead of making the salad, we just drenched the chicken with the au jus. I will definitely try out your Irish stew recipe for St. Patty's day. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Chef John,
I had some red grapes so I squeezed their juice and put the skins inside the chicken with the lemon skins and herbs, it was just fantastic, and the roasted onions and juices in the pan were perfect, Thanks.

a somewhat nervous french cook said...

okay...gotta admit, didn't try the recipe. But, Julia Child was the best cook in the world, by far. love her voice.

Cheri Witmer said...

Ok, so this was absolutely delicious!!! Didn't have fresh rosemary & thyme so I had to use dried, I know it would have made it so much better, but it was sooooo good even with dried herbs. Served with baked potatoes rubbed in butter, salt, and pepper, and a green salad! A true delight in my mouth!

benoit said...

Hi,

I roasted my first chicken ever using your recipe. Although I did use the dried stuff for the herbs, the result was really good. I've redone the recipe since and have added some liquid (chicken stock) to the pan and that helped to prevent the burning of the onions. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Made the chicken last night ... it came out awesome. Only had a little bit of pepper left, so I used paprika and a little bit of Cayenne. So easy to make and it came out very delicious.

Abby said...

Made this for my husband a few weeks ago. It was so good he requested it again for this week! Can't wait to make it. Highly recommended recipe!

Gabriele Frontini said...

Excellent! Will try this very soon, seems not really difficult to prepare. Keep up the good work

Dev said...

Made this chicken tonight. Mmmboy! My oven's a little wonky so I used the thermometer method. Took it out at ~160. Perfection. Another great recipe Chef John. Thanks!

Nadim & Hilde said...

We've been wanting to roast a chicken for a while and this was our first pick. The result was fantastic. To be sure the skin was nice and crisp, we loosened the skin, put the bird in the fridge for a half a day and added some butter to the olive oil. Needless to say, we had a fantastic meal. The jus was amazing!

Rafael said...

Hello chef john, can i adapt this to turkey? i hope this question doesn't desecrate this wonderful recipe

Tammylou said...

Oh Em Gee. I made this chicken with your crispy roasted potatoes, Maple Dill Carrots, and homemade Caesar Salad tonight. Firstly, Im not making any friends with the amount of blood in my garlic stream, but secondly, WOW...the 'jus' is SO good, im likely to eat it with a spoon later. Im sure thats not healthy, but I cant say that I care. Thanks for some fantastic videos, and great ideas, Chef John!

Anonymous said...

isnt that meryl streep and not julia child in that second photo???

Chef John said...

Yes, from the movie mentioned. A dead ringer!

Markster said...

Just found this recipe and I happen to have everything on hand except the watercress. However I do have some baby arugula and it occurs to me that it might be a good substitute. Whatcha think Chef?

Markster said...

Dear Chef. I just found this recipe and realized I happen to have everything on hand except for the watercress. However I do have a lot of baby arugla and it occurs to me that might make a good substitute. Whatcha think, chef? Apologies if this is double post? I think I misclicked something the first time I tried.

Chef John said...

Yes! Arugula works!

Wild Terp said...

We just finished dinner and wow was this excellent chicken! We had to use sweet potatoes instead of potatoes (hubby is on a doctor-ordered nightshade free diet for 6 weeks), arugula instead of watercress (it was what they had at market), and it all turned out incredibly well. Question: did anyone else's garlic cloves turn a bright green blue? Ours did, like a copper patina!

Tuz said...

Thanks Chef. Great recipe...I am going to try it and I'm wondering if there are other vegetables that can replace watercress.

Tuz said...

Thanks Chef John. Great recipe. I am going to try it and want to know if what other vegetables can replace watercress.

Chef John said...

You can use any bitter green or lettuce you like!

David Pollet said...

hi! do you have a recipe posted for the potatoes you used? looks like you cooked them separately. thanks!!

David Pollet said...

hi! do you have a posted recipe for the potatoes you used in the video? looks like you cooked them separately. thanks!

Chef John said...

No recipe, they were just roasted in the oven with salt!

Dan and Hilary said...

This is the first video I ever watched from your blog more than 5 years ago. Dozens of recipes I have tried of yours later and I am just now getting around to finally making this tonight for dinner.

I tell all of my friends and family about your blog, and just wanted to thank you again for dropping all that knowledge, keep up the good work CJ!

Dan and Hilary said...

Er, so I just realized this post is from '09, so I guess been watching for about 4 years.

Quick question, can I brine my chicken before making this? Never have brined, been meaning to try it out.

thisizk8 said...

This is such a fantastic recipe, I've been making it almost once a week because we all love it so much! Thanks Chef John!

juardine said...

This recipe came out perfect!!! I want to make it everyday..lol 10+ stars!!!

Joanne Rake said...

Usually dinner with hubby is full of conversation. This recipe caused a stunned, near-silence... other than... "Can you believe how good this is?"

No wonder your household has repeatedly enjoyed this dish for so many years.

Thanks.

Holly Shirt said...

Reform School says:

No sage? No parsley? What will Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon eat?