There are a lot of stereotypes out there about French people. "The French are so rude," you often hear. They are called "snooty" and "unfriendly". Me, I don't like stereotypes. Every French person I've ever met (and I've met quite a few!) has been perfectly nice. Not to mention, their dispositions improve considerably after a glass or two of wine! Plus, I figure that the French cannot be that bad - after all, they gave the world Jacques Pépin.
Jacques Pépin is a famous French chef who has done many cooking shows in America. One of those is "Fast Food My Way", which you can watch through the link above. I totally dig his accent! In fact, he seems so friendly and approachable that I've started calling him, simply, "Jacques". While skimming through some episodes, I came upon Jacques's roast chicken recipe which completely changed the way I cook the bird.
I love to roast a whole chicken. Besides being delicious and looking impressive on the table, a whole chicken is much cheaper per pound than cut-up parts and it gives you the most bang-for-your-buck since it will comfortably feed four to five people and you can make an excellent chicken stock from the carcass, saving yourself from having to buy those chemical-tasting boxed broths or bouillon cubes. The only downside to roasting a whole bird is that it takes well over an hour. Pépin gets around this by cutting out the backbone of the chicken with kitchen shears (I use my cheap dollar-store scissors) and flattening it. A couple more well-placed cuts through the joints and the cooking time is reduced to 30 minutes, making this an easy and quick recipe for weeknights. I've made this three times and each time, the chicken has emerged from the oven burnished gold and super juicy. So get out your shears and as the French say, bon appétit!
Jacques Pépin's 30 Minute Roast Chicken
You can watch Jacques prepare this entire recipe here, starting at around 2:30. I found it helpful to watch him cut the bird. Make sure you buy a chicken that isn't too much over 4 lb. as larger birds won't cook through in time. Jacques puts a quick mustard-garlic sauce over the bird which is delicious, but you can also simply brush the chicken with a little olive oil and salt and whatever herbs or spices suit your fancy.
1 3-4 lb. chicken
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp white wine
2 tbsp olive oil
1) Preheat oven to 450F.
2) Put the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board. With kitchen scissors, cut along both sides of the backbone. Take the backbone out and save it for stock. Push the chicken open like a book. Flip it over and press on the breast bone to flatten the chicken. Make deep slashes where the drumsticks join the thighs and the wings, the body. Sprinkle all over with some salt.
3) Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and brush some on the underside of the chicken.
4) Put the chicken, cut side down and legs splayed out, in a large oven-safe skillet or roasting pan. Set the pan on the stove over high heat and cook for 5 minutes. While it's cooking, brush the top of the chicken with the sauce.
5) After 5 minutes, transfer the pan to the oven. Roast 30-35 minutes, until skin is golden brown.