Saturday, December 14, 2013

Recipe: Thomas Keller's Simple Roast Chicken (mon poulet roti) + Fergus Henderson's Bread Sauce

Whenever the weekend approaches, I get excited thinking about the Sunday roast that I could serve on the dinner table, be it roast beef, or lamb or chicken. I was browsing through one of my cookbooks and came across a simple roast chicken recipe by Thomas Keller, Michelin-star chef of The French Laundry and Per Se in America.

Thomas Keller's perfect, simple roast chicken (mon poulet roti)

I was surprised to see that his recipe for roast chicken (mon poulet roti) only requires 4 basic ingredients - unsalted butter, salt, pepper and fresh thyme. I went to the wet market and got the largest free-range chicken I could find (2kg). After the chicken is cleaned, pat dry it very well with paper towels - this is to ensure the skin will crisp up nicely later. Then, salt and pepper the cavity before trussing it. Finally, rain it with more salt and roast. How simple is that? Thyme is added later on and butter is slathered on the meat before serving.

The result is pretty amazing - the chicken was moist with an incredibly crisp skin. I really like how little effort is required to cook this roast chicken. This would definitely be a fantastic fuss-free roast to cook for Christmas day.

Look at that beautiful crispy skin!

To go with the chicken, I made Fergus Henderson's (Michelin-star chef who founded St John Restaurant in London) bread sauce, an excellent accompaniment to roast chicken. It is fragrant and creamy.

First, you stud an onion with a dozen cloves - the kids commented that it looked very cute! Then add it to a pan of milk and gently heat, before adding the breadcrumbs to the hot milk and set aside to infuse. You should ideally make it a couple of hours beforehand to allow the flavours to infuse. I also made some regular gravy, just in case bread sauce wasn't everyone's cup of tea.

Thomas Keller's simple roast chicken (mon poulet roti)
Recipe adapted from Much Depends on Dinner
Preparation time: 10 - 15 minutes
Cooking time: Depending on size of chicken
Serves 5-6

1 x 2kg chicken, preferably organic
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tsp minced thyme (optional)
Unsalted butter
Dijon mustard

1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. Salt and pepper the cavity then truss the bird with twine. This site has photo instructions on how to truss a chicken. (OK, I ran out of twine so I used thread.. haha but it works!)

2. Salt the chicken, rain the salt (about 1 1/2 tbsp) over the bird. Season to taste with pepper.

3. Place the chicken on a roasting pan and put it in the oven. Roast it until it's done. To calculate the timing for roasting your chicken, cook 20 minutes for every 450g plus an extra 10-20 minutes. The juices should be clear when you test the thickest part of the chicken. A 2kg chicken will take approximately 100-110 minutes.

4. When done, remove from the oven and add thyme to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a carving board.

5.  Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. Cut the breast down the middle ad serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side, and if you wish a simple green salad. (I served mine with mashed potatoes and some steamed vegetables)

Note: Original recipe uses 1.3kg chicken, and cooked in a 230°C oven for 50-60 minutes. However, I lowered the temp as my oven is quite hot and cooking at 230°C may dry out the meat.

Fergus Henderson's bread sauce (to go with roast chicken)
Recipe adapted from Much Depends on Dinner
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves 4

100g yesterday's good white bread (3 slices)
550ml milk
1 onion, peeled, left whole and studded with a dozen cloves
A knob of butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Remove crusts from bread and turn into breadcrumbs (using a knife or food processor).

2. Pour the milk into a saucepan, add the clove-studded onion and gently heat over low heat, catching the milk before it boils. Turn off heat.

3. Add the breadcrumbs to the hot milk and set aside to infuse.

4. When the chicken is ready, remove the onion from the sauce and return the pan to the stove to heat over low heat. Add butter, season to taste and stir.

5. When the sauce is thoroughly warmed and the butter melted, serve in a gravy jug.

I am submitting this to the "Baby Sumo's Christmas Recipes Collection 2013" event which I am hosting. You can link your recipes here.

I am also submitting this to Cook-Your-Books #7 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours .

If you enjoyed reading my posts, LIKE me on Facebook! Thanks :)


  1. gosh, looking at this beautifully roasted chicken might make all your readers want to crash your sunday roast for a taste of this meat! :D

  2. Oolala! I'm drooling over your roasted chicken. The actual name of this dish got a 'roti' word in it, so special

  3. Very crispy skin and succulent white meat - Yummy

  4. Would be nice sometimes for a change, I'm sure. I would prefer something darker though, but that's just me.

  5. Yum! Yen, your chicken looks so good. I agree with your kids that the studded onion looks cute!

  6. I love bread sauce with chicken and what a delicious meal this would be! :D

  7. Hi Yen,
    Wow, this is mouth-watering! Roast chicken are always a welcome in my house, anytime!
    Thanks for sharing with CYB!
    About the thyme, there really is nothing much that I did, only make sure that the soil is not dry, not overly wet and scatter with some fertilizer once in a while. If the weather is extremely blazing hot, try to place the pot in a shaded area for a couple of hours. Even though thyme needs the full sun, I find that our weather is a little too harsh for it. Since I can't move the big foam container that I planted it in, I tent the plant by shading it with a big cloth! Sadly, the thyme which I have grown to rather huge, was infested by some white fungus, and I have since discarded that plant away. Now, I have a new thyme plant, and hope that it will grow as big as the previous one.

  8. Very nice roast chicken. Would be great for Christmas too. Instead of Turkey...roast chicken for a change :-)

    1. Hehe Melissa, thanks. You know, we never have turkey ever for Christmas. Too much hassle to cook and way too big for our small family.

  9. Oh wow, what gorgeous looking chicken. I bet the flavours are amazing! Thanks for sharing.


Please drop any comments or questions you may have here. Thank you so much for reading!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...