All I could think about at work yesterday was my planned dinner. Couldn’t wait to get home and get the chicken in the oven. Nothing is better than a traditional roast chicken dinner. Number one on my top 10 list.
If you haven’t tried Judy Rodger’s pre-salting method, you might want to. It produces the most moist, delicious bird. You need to plan a few days ahead when pre-salting a turkey, but a small chicken benefits from just pre-salting the night before and then air drying in the fridge all day before roasting. I also pre-salt pork, ribs, prime rib and rack of lamb.
A roast chicken is the easiest dinner to put together and if you use the high heat method, roasting at 500°F, you can have a perfectly roasted chicken in 40 to 50 minutes.
I wouldn’t have had time to make stuffing/dressing and get dinner on the table quickly so I baked the dressing before I went to work and just had to reheat it. While the chicken rested, I made the gravy and finished the veggies, steaming the broccoli and cauliflower and mashing the potatoes. I got home from work about 5:15 and dinner was on the table by 6:30.
Judy Rodgers’ Zuni Cafe
Servings: 11 to 15
Note: This is more a technique than a recipe. It makes a bird that has concentrated turkey flavor and fine, firm flesh and that is delicious as it is. But you can add other flavors as you wish. Minced rosemary would be a nice finishing addition. Or brush the bird lightly with butter before roasting.
1 (12- to 16-pound) turkey
1. Wash the turkey inside and out, pat it dry and weigh it. Measure 1 tablespoon of salt into a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you’d have 3 tablespoons).
2. Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with salt. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest. You’ll probably use a little more than a tablespoon. It should look liberally seasoned, but not over-salted.
3. Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. You should use a little less than a tablespoon. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.
4. Place the turkey in a 2 1/2 -gallon sealable plastic bag, press out the air and seal tightly. Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, turning it onto its breast for the last day.
5. Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Place the turkey breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.
6. On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
7. Place the turkey breast-side down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan; put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and carefully turn the turkey over so the breast is facing up (it’s easiest to do this by hand, using kitchen towels or oven mitts).
8. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, return the turkey to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees, about 2 3/4 hours total roasting.
9. Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a warm platter or carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand at least 30 minutes to let the juices redistribute through the meat. Carve and serve.
This same method can be used for Beef (Prime Rib, steaks, roasts) chicken, chicken pieces, pork roasts, ribs, chops, etc..
With the smaller cuts just pre-salt 4 or five hours in advance. Even
this short period of presalting makes an amazing difference.
Don’t cover, just refrigerate and then remove from the fridge in time
for the meat to come to room temperature before cooking.