The spices change, the accompaniment of vegetables changes, but the chicken is always, tender, moist, flavorful of itself, and with a skin so crisp and flaky, it’s almost like a pastry.
So, yours truly was delighted to pay a modest fee (lunch included) to be invited into Chef Elperin’s kitchen this past Saturday, to learn his secret. And, like most great chef meals, the secret is: cook it perfectly.
Tonight, moi attempted to put into practice what we were taught Saturday. Chef Elperin warned that every oven – and chicken – is different. You can’t just bang a dish into the oven for a prescribed time – you have to check, and check again, and develop a sense for ‘done’ meaning just done, and it’s OK to cheat and use a meat thermometer (a digital, instant-read model is what the Chef uses). BTW, you want 165 degrees, measured at the chicken’s thickest point, between the leg and thigh.
As instructed, we roasted the chicken in a pan, on a raft of vegetables, garlic and herbs, drizzled with olive oil. The chicken was stuffed with a bulb of garlic (whole, unpeeled, with the top chopped off), orange wedges and a handful of cilantro plucked from the garden this afternoon. The moist interior ingredients suffuse the chicken adding flavor, according to Chef (and, boy, did they ever).
Anyway, fast forward past careful, frequent inspections, but our 5-lb. young hen, purchased from Trader Joe’s this morning turned out to be a major hit with the spouse. She declared it the best chicken I’ve ever made, and I cook chicken a lot…