Roast Chicken: All Trussed Up With No Place to Go
Call me chicken, but I’m one of those omnivores who’s secretly grossed out by cooking meat. I tend to buy my meat in abstract forms — cold cuts, boneless pieces, and ground chuck (I draw the line at Spam).
I never thought much of it until a friend told me that his little sister cried when she realized that chicken you buy at the grocery store is the same thing as chicken the animal. I guess it’s easy to forget where your meat comes from when you buy it in neatly trimmed, plastic-wrapped portions.
Trussed for the Very First Time
So, I decided it was time to overcome my hypocrisy … with the help of a roast chicken. (Baby steps, okay?) I opened up Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook to a simple roast chicken recipe, and immediately felt disgusted, exhilarated, and slightly nervous. The first thought that passed through my mind was, “You want me to stick my hand WHERE?!”
But in the end, I was left with a perfectly crispy, golden-brown roast bird — and a, uh, deeper knowledge of the chicken itself. So here’s some of my learned wisdom for the rest of you omnivores who might need to get back in touch with your inner animal:
1.) Making roast chicken is kind of gross. You have to stick your hand in the chicken’s cavity, there are often remnants of feathers on the bird, and the sound of cutting through bone is likely to make you cringe. But it’s easy, economical, and healthy.
2.) Trussing the bird (tying up the wings and drumsticks with twine) makes for a moister chicken. It looks hard at first, but if you follow directions properly, you’ll find it leaves you with a prettier and tastier dish.
3.) Don’t overdress your bird. We have a tendency to dress up our food and give it fancy names to forget the fact that we’re animals. But for chicken, all you need to do is dry it thoroughly and add enough salt so that the skin gets golden brown and crispy.
I can’t tell you how many times I yelled, “Ew!” or mentioned to Jon and Jeff how gross it was to have my hand in a chicken cavity. But trust me, I see the irony in being disgusted by the raw bird, but salivating over the finished roast chicken when it’s served with spinach, biscuits, and mustard (yum). We’re just complicated creatures, I guess.
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