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Heston's roast chicken

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by BelleDuJour, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Following on from my purchase of Heston's book on nick's recommendation, I did the roast chicken last night.
    I used a lovely 2kg free range bird and, ad Heston said, put in an an oven at 90 degrees (simmering oven in Aga was perfect) and left it for 4 hours. It came out looking pallid, insipid and smelling of nothing.
    It was then rested (as suggested) and finally finished off in the roasting oven for 15 minutes.
    The chicken came out plump, browned and smelling lush. When it was carved juices just oozed from it and it really was the tastiest, moistest bird I've ever eaten or cooked!
    I shall use this method from now on. The thing is, you could leave the bird an extra hour in the cool oven and it won't spoil. You can also chuck it in, forget about it and not even bother with the potatoes until the bird comes out to rest for the first time.
    Heston's methods may seem bizzare and may fly in the face of how we've been cooking for years, but the thing is however unlikely they seem they DO work.
    I also made his vanilla ice cream on the weekend and was suspicious as it contained nno egg custard base. But what it did taste of was Mr Whippy! Awesome! I was delighted.
    I think you should all get the book.
     
  2. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    My thoughts precisely, Belle.
    I will never roast a chicken in a hot oven again.
     
  3. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    Book now ordered. I think I'm going to have fun with this!
     
  4. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Yes, you will!
    I've done the chocolate fondants as well. Interesting and a bit fiddly but worked well.
     
  5. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Me neither. Mr Belle was really concerned when the bird came out of the cool oven looking positively unappetising to be honest. I must say, we also got more out of the bird as there was no shrinkage in the cooking. Did you find that nick? We had enough to feed a family of 4 a roast dinner, there's enough left to make a chicken pie, then the carcass for stock (not forgetting milk powder). I am truly amazed!
     
  6. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Yes, definitely. On a 2kg bird, we ate one breast between us for our initial roast dinner!
     
  7. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    I'm going to try his slow cooked rib of beef next. Must say though, the cooking thermometer is essential. You cannot cook this way without a thermometer.
     
  8. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    His rib of beef recipe was in the Times just over a year ago - I remember reading it in a hotel lounge in Romsey over a staggeringly indulgent afternoon tea, in front of a roaring fire with a glowing Christmas tree twinkling as it snowed outside. I remember thinking how ace it looked then.
    Will try the leg of lamb as the next roasting project, but will also be trying the 18 hour braised belly pork sometime soon.
    No, which is why I've bought a digital one, to be even more precise.
    I must admit I've been roasting on a lower heat for a little while now. When I cook more delicate meats, such as pork or chicken which are inedible if overcooked, I've cooked them at 160C more recently (after a quick sizzle on high to caramelise the skin), using a meat thermometer to decide when cooked, rather than using weight to 'guess' the cooking time. I particularly always use a meat thermometer for pork as there's nothing more disappointing than dried out pork. I prefer pork on the pink side anyway, so it's essential to check the internal temperature, I think.
    Whilst the Heston book has some great recipes, it's also just full of amazing ideas and tips that can be transferred to all of your other recipes and dishes. Every time I produce something lately, D has asked me "so is this a Heston thing then?" and usually it's not - but often I may have used a tip of his or some of the science in his book to help perfect something else.
    I agree that some of it seems counter-intuitive, but I think it's actually because it contradicts what we've always had drummed into us, rather than seeming to oppose science, because most of it actually makes enormous sense if you consider the science behind it.
    For example, it just makes perfect sense to roast on a low temperature and use a meat thermometer to get juicy meat. It's just that we've always been told that you roast on high and use the weight of the meat to estimate the cooking time - but that can only ever really be informed guesswork at the most. Yes, it might often work and you get a perfect roast, but how many times have we overdone a lovely piece of meat and felt disappointed as our loved ones still smile on and eat it anyway, because we know it's not perfect? I've always underestimated the cooking time as too-rare meat is vastly preferable to overdone meat, but this isn't ideal if you have guests who prefer medium-rare meat (I refuse to cater for those who like well-done meat!). With a cooking thermometer though, there's no guesswork, you get perfect meat every time. Some people might see it as 'cheating' and a slur on their pride as a cook, but that's just plain silly.
    I know he has his detractors - those who claim that seeing food as a science removes the personal element from cooking and also the love. There are also those who claim that cooking is more art than science but I don't think this is true at all. Art is too personal and guided by individual taste. Put 30 foodies in a room and give them a perfectly roasted chicken and they'll be more-or-less in agreement as to its wonder. Put 30 art critics in a room and show them a painting and you'll have 30 different opinions and interpretations.
    Food is science. With the sheer number of physical and chemical changes that take place when any cooking takes place, there's no way it can't be science. What Heston does is use that science to ensure that everything tastes as good as it possibly can - and I'd argue that that is certainly love.
    It's an essential book and I, along with Belle, urge everyone to buy it.

     
  9. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Meant to add to this...even though I was pleased with the results roasting at 160, roasting at 90 is a revelation. I roasted some pheasant tikka pieces for a curry last night. The result - beautifully moist, juicy pheasant. Not something that's especially easy to do.
     
  10. I have the book and the only other cookery book which comes close to all the tried recipes turning out awesome is Rick Stein's Seafood.
    He's a clever chap, old Heston.
     
  11. bizent

    bizent Star commenter

    I can recommend his method for steaks. Absolutely gorgeous and perfectly cooked!
     
  12. henriette

    henriette New commenter

  13. Ooh, thanks very much for this. I was thinking about starting a new thread asking for details but here they are! I always buy a 1.9kg chicken from our local butcher and roast at 190 degrees until cooked (checking with a meat thermometer) but will try this method now.
    What would the temp of a roasting oven be? 190? 200?
     
  14. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    In my Aga it's about 200C.
    The resting between slow cooking and browning is 30-45minutes according to Heston.
    It's similar to your grandma's methof H, but even more gentle as no quick blast to start it, long rest and only a short time to brown at the end.

     
  15. Thanks very much, Belle.
     
  16. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

  17. We did this recipe too although I actually left it till about 63 or 64C but by then it was really late and we didn't have time to rest it for long. Then 15 or so minutes with the oven on full with the yorkshires and everything turned out absolutely delicious. I'm really enjoying using Heston's tips and adapting them to make it work for me. I didn't think I'd be able to but the pressure cooker for example is now a permanent fixture on my stovetop!
     
  18. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Same here. I didn't have time to rest it for long but it turned out wonderful!
     

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