Aw shit y’all. Made some tender-ass chicken. Encased it in this salt crust like a babe in a blanket. Stuffed parsley under its skin like a crazy serial killer. Baked it in the oven for an hour and a half like….a person baking a chicken in the oven for an hour and a half.
Seriously though, this chicken is MOIST. There are few things more terrible than dry, overcooked chicken. It’s a major reason why I don’t LOVE chicken. Chicken and salmon, man. If you’re going to overcook them, don’t put them in front of me. Seriously that is some egregious shit. The initial impetus for trying this recipe was that I was intrigued by the salt crust, mainly because I love to encase things in dough. It’s like an entire chicken pot pie. But then you don’t eat the crust. SERIOUSLY DO NOT EAT THE CRUST. It is SALTY. You will cough a lot. You will cough and cough and cough and cough and spit it out in the sink and purse your little lips and your roommates will look at you all, why on earth would you think that was a good idea?
So yeah, the price for the moistness is the less-than-crispy skin. But I’m trying to be all “healthy” right? So I wasn’t gobbling up a lot of skin anyway. Plus then the next day I used the leftovers to create a killer chicken salad, which I ate with my TARTINE BREAD. (Still excited about that particular triumph if you cannot tell).
Ok listen friends, I leave tonight on the midnight train to Glacier (leavin on that midnight traaiaiaiain–you know what’s up, gladys). You know. All sorts of stuff. 50 hours on Amtrak. A few days in what I am predicting to be my new favorite national park. Some QT with my friend M in Portland. All in all, can’t complain. But, you know, no salt-crusted chickens being made for a while. Will you deal? Well you’ve put up with all the other half-baked excuses I have thrown your way, so please put up with this fully-baked one. Someone else will have to make such marvelous cooking-related jokes in my absence.
from Chocolate and Zucchini
– one chicken, organic and/or from a source you trust, about 2 kilos (4.4 pounds)
– 1 medium bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
– 3 cloves garlic, crushed with the flat of a knife blade
– 500 grams (17 2/3 ounces, about 3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
– 300 grams (10 1/2 ounces, about 1 1/3 cups) coarsesalt
– 3 tablespoons thyme, fresh if available, dried otherwise (other dried herbs may be substituted, such as rosemary or oregano)
– 4 tablespoons ground flax seeds, or 160 grams (5 2/3 ounces) egg whites (from 4 to 5 large eggs)
Serves 4 to 5.
Lightly oil a baking dish big enough to hold the chicken comfortably. Set aside.
If you’re using flax seeds rather than egg whites, place them in a bowl with 100 ml (6 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) fresh water, and set aside for about 15 minutes, until the water is completely absorbed and the mixture is gelled.
Place the chicken on a work surface, on its back, with the neck side facing you. Slip your hand under the skin, starting at the base of the neck, and work gently to get your hand further in, lifting the skin from the flesh over each breast, and down over each thigh, without tearing the skin. Once the skin is loosened, slip in the chopped parsley, pushing it underneath the skin to cover the breasts and the thighs as evenly as you can.
Sprinkle a few pinches of salt inside the cavity of the chicken, and add in the garlic. Using a piece of chicken string, truss the chicken as demonstrated in Peter Hertzmann’s Preparing for roasting video at minute 2:30. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour with the salt and thyme. Add the soaked ground flax seeds or the egg whites, and 160 ml (2/3 cup) fresh water, and stir with a wooden spoon or a dough whisk until the liquids are absorbed. Turn out onto a clean work surface, and knead briefly until the dough comes together; it should be supple and pleasant to work with, not sticky or crumbly. Add a little water or flour as needed to adjust the consistency.
Flour your work surface well, and roll out the salt dough into a circle large enough to wrap the chicken in it (I shoot for a diameter of about 50 cm or 20″).
Place the chicken in the middle of the circle and fold opposite flaps of the dough over the chicken to wrap it entirely. Press gently to seal; if it looks like the dough might not stay put, brush the seams with a pastry brush dipped lightly in water.
Lift the whole thing carefully but with determination, and transfer it to the prepared baking dish. Place in the fridge until ready to bake — you can leave it in for a few hours or overnight. If the salt crust cracks slightly here or there, don’t worry about it; it doesn’t need to be 100% airtight.
Remove the chicken from the fridge and preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Insert the dish in the oven and leave it in for 1 1/2 hours (a little more won’t hurt if the guests are late; just turn off the oven and leave the chicken inside).
Remove the dish from the oven, and break the salt crust open with a meat mallet or the handle of a chef knife. Once fractured, the crust can be simply pulled open with your oven-mitt-clad hands (it’s fun).
Lift the chicken from the open crust, transfer it to a cutting board, and carve it. Serve with the cooking juices.