Dear Mr. Jacques Pepin,
I wanted to cook a healthy meal that the whole family loves, roast chicken. We all love roast chicken and we also love using the leftover in dishes throughout the week, so I turned to you and your French ways for a good roast chicken recipe. Now, maybe some of this is my fault. I suppose I was walking on the wild side yesterday because I chose your Peking-Syle Chicken.
I chose this particular recipe because we were featuring condiments, sauces, dressings, and all manner of sauces over at I Heart Cooking Clubs. When I saw your recipe for Peking-Style Chicken using soy sauce, honey, Tabasco, and balsamic vinegar I thought, "great, I can kill two birds with one stone."
I started with a really good organic chicken. We can roast any chicken, but a quality organic chicken always tastes a whole lot better.
After washing my hands one hundred millions times and wiping down every hard surface in my kitchen because I loathe raw chicken, I then proceeded to boil the chicken for 3 minutes and then simmer it for 2 minutes. I understand this will help crisp up the chicken skin, which is a desired goal for Peking Chicken.
Then I slathered my chicken with the Peking mixture of soy sauce, honey, Tabasco, and balsamic vinegar. This is going to be excellent I thought. Everything is looking good. Jacques will not let me down.
I slid that chicken in the oven and at the half hour mark it looked beautiful, with gorgeous color. I basted it with the Peking sauce again and slid it in for another half hour. When I pulled it out I panicked. Why was my chicken looking so burnt, Jacques? Do you know the horror I felt? Nevertheless, I persisted. I guess this chicken is meant to look burnt, so I slather it with the remaining Peking sauce and stick it back in the oven. Now I am fretting and freaking out because I'm counting on you for a wonderful roast chicken. Except, the air smells somewhat acrid in my house - a burning smell like hot burning soy sauce and vinegar. I start totally questioning my choices and I run to the kitchen to cover my chicken with tinfoil so the skin won't get any darker. I know this may prevent the skin from being crisp. I start freaking out about ruining the chicken.
After being in full-blown panic mode for at least 30 minutes, I pull the chicken out and the chicken is dark and burnt looking. It's as dark as my cast iron pan. The bright sunlight is reflecting off the chicken and I cannot get a good picture of my burnt-looking chicken. My husband is laughing at me because I'm taking a picture of a burnt looking chicken and I'm doing it over and over again with a craze. Then I start laughing like a maniac because Jacques, you have me taking pictures of a burnt ass chicken! Why am I taking pics of a burnt looking chicken? My husband watches me move the chicken all over the kitchen trying to get a decent picture and he bellows, "it will look burnt no matter what you do."
Finally, in an effort to defy my husband, I decide to cut the chicken and take a picture of the thigh and leg alongside my baby red potatoes and creamed peas. There I think, it doesn't look so bad now.
The crisis is averted. The skin is definitely crisp and the chicken is just fine, but we definitely prefer a more classic roast chicken and decide that we are not fans of the Peking-Style.
That said, I will not be walking on the wild side for awhile, Jacques. I thought the chicken would have a dark red lacquered look, but oh no that just wasn't the case, was it Jacques? You've never really stressed me out before, or done me wrong, and the chicken really was ok, so I won't totally quit you, Jacques. However, I will take a break. A warning about the color, Jacques. That's all I ask for.
I still love you though,
Kim of Stirring the Pot
P.S. Here are some links to great roast chicken recipes that I've shared on my blog. Roast chicken is a great way to have a healthy meal and also enjoy some quick healthy leftovers.
The Very Best (and also the fussiest): Julia Child's Roast Chicken
The Second Best (but also my go-to recipe because Julia's is so fussy): Ina Garten's Engagement Roast Chicken
The Roast Chicken Smeared With 2 Sticks of Butter (and from the archives): Tyler Florence's Ultimate Roast Chicken
Adapted from Essential Pepin
by Jacques Pepin
1 chicken (about 4 pounds)
1-1/2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
12 ounces small button mushrooms, cleaned
1/2 cup water
Notes: I didn't have mushrooms so I added 2 heads of unpeeled garlic cloves to the bottom of my roasting dish prior to roasting the chicken. In my mind you can't go wrong with roasted garlic as a side.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Bring 10 cups water to a boil in a large pot.
Meanwhile, remove the wishbone from the chicken (I did not do this but will include directions below). Fold the wings of the chicken under the back and truss it with kitchen twine to help maintain the birds compact shape (I did not do this either).
Lower the chicken breast side down into the boiling water. Return the water to a boil over high heat (this will take about 3 minutes). As soon as the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer the chicken gently for 2 minutes. Drain and place the chicken breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan.
Mix the honey, soy sauce, Tabasco, and vinegar together in a small bow Brush the chicken on all sides with some of the mixture. Roast breast side up for about 30 minutes.
Brush the breast side of the chicken again with the honey mixture, then roast for another 30 minutes.
Arrange the mushrooms in one layer under the rack in the pan and add the water. Brush the chicken with the remaining honey mixture and roast for 15 minutes longer.
Transfer the chicken to a platter. Pour the accumulated juices and the mushrooms into a saucepan. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes, then spoon off as much fast from the surface as possible, and reheat if necessary.
Cut the chicken into pieces and serve with the juices and mushrooms.
How To Remove The Wishbone From The Chicken: The wishbone is often removed from chicken, duck, and other birds to make carving easier. To remove the wishbone, place the bird on its back and lift the skin at the neck to expose the flesh. Slide the point of a paring knife along either side of the wishbone, cutting into the flesh (about 1/2 inch deep for a chicken). Then insert your thumb and index finger on either side of the wishbone and pry it out.
How To Truss A Chicken: Trussing a stuffed bird helps keep the stuffing in. Trussing also helps a bird hold its shape, whether it is stuffed or not, so it cooks evenly and looks better on the serving platter. Nevertheless, trussing is usually optional!
To truss a chicken, use fairly thick cotton kitchen twine, so it doesn't cut your fingers. Slide a length of twine under the tail and around the tips of the drumsticks, then cross the twine above the chicken and slide both ends of the twine under the tips of the drumsticks to create a figure 8. Hold the ends of the twine together, which will close the tail opening. Pull the ends of twine around the sides of the bird until they join at the neck end, next to the wings, and tighten the twine, securing it behind the wings or behind the stump of the neck; tie a double knot so the twine doesn't slide off. Remove the twine before serving.