Yvan Lebrun, Restaurant Initiale, Québec
Buying, cooking white-meat poultry
It’s important to buy a grain-fed or farm chicken instead of a battery-raised one. The cooking time is longer, but the flavor is incomparable. Depending on the country or region where you live, you may be able to buy poultry with a “red label” or protected designation of origin (such as Bresse chicken from France).
When calculating the quantity per person, it’s necessary to take into account the amount of water lost during cooking, which will vary greatly according to the type of poultry. For example, a roast farm chicken will lose less water than a battery-raised bird.
Roasted with aromatic flavorings
The principle of roasting is simple: just place a whole bird in the oven and cook at 180° C (350° F) until the leg meat begins to come away from the bone.
Since we’re talking about reduced-calorie cooking, we’ll forget about oil or butter, and turn instead to aromatic flavorings: season the bird inside and out with salt and pepper; place a sprig of thyme and some cloves of roasted garlic into the cavity.
You can replace the thyme with cumin, caraway or a sprig of cilantro.
Glaze the roast chicken with onion jus: to do this, finely chop a few onions and caramelize them in a skillet with a small spoonful of butter or oil; add some chicken stock and reduce.
In a cocotte or Dutch oven
This is a simple, foolproof method. Simply brown the chicken in a skillet, then cook it, covered, in a 160° C (325° F) oven.
Once again, add some flavor: line the bottom of the cocotte with a bed of vegetables that have been sautéed in a skillet. You can use an assortment of vegetables but, personally, I prefer a single vegetable: tomato, fennel or onion compote.
This is the principle for the French dish “poule au pot,” or simmered chicken – perfect for a roasting chicken, though not recommended for a guinea fowl.
- Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper and place in a large pot with carrots, onion, parsley, mushrooms and half a lemon.
- Add lots of stock, bring to a boil and cook over low heat until the leg meat pulls away from the bone.
- Remove the skin; place the chicken on a large platter and debone.
Country-style: serve with vegetables as for a pot-au-feu; sprinkle with fleur de sel and cracked pepper.
Festive: to give a festive air to your chicken, you can garnish it with truffle slices. Truffle pieces or a drizzle of truffle juice will also add flavor, but with less expense.
Seasonal: consider a butternut squash purée flavored with your choice of cardamom, vanilla, or a splash of vinegar if you find it too sweet. If you choose the vanilla version, you can expand on the theme by placing a split vanilla bean in the cavity of the chicken before cooking it.
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