Julia Child begins the sixth chapter of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” with these words: “Some of the most glorious dishes of the French cuisine have been created for chicken, and almost all the fundamentals of French cookery and sauce making are to be found somewhere in the chicken realm.”
In one episode of her famous cooking show, Child states, “The real test of a good chef is a perfectly roasted chicken.“
Last year I started learning how to cook. I used it as a means of feeding my family good food but I also used it as an outlet for my creativity. Not one to limit my options, I moved beyond my award winning Macaroni and Cheese from a box.
I wanted to learn how to cook real food; food that people would ask for, come to the dinner table to enjoy. The first step in my culinary adventure was to purchase Child’s cookbook; $24 on Amazon. I read it from cover to cover, marking the dishes I thought I could handle, making notes of the equipment I had and needed. The next step was to start practicing different recipes. I jumped in with both feet and tried mushroom soup, asparagus covered in Hollandaizes, potato and leek soup, roasted Brussels sprouts, and Beef Bourguignon.
My family loved the dinners but I knew I needed to center in on one dish and make it right, rather than simply try a variety of recipes that were hit and miss. And so after careful consideration, I started with the basic and most beloved, Roasted Chicken.
A few dozen chickens later, and I think I’ve finally perfected this meal. I’ve tried roasting the chicken whole, quartered and butterflied. I’ve served it sliced into thin strips, in soups and with noodles and over roasted potatoes. But, to quote Mrs. Child, “A chicken should taste like chicken and be so good in itself that it is an absolute delight to eat as a perfectly plain, buttery roast...” I’m proud to say that the last three birds have lived up to this standard. I now know that I can prepare the chicken in minutes, cook it and serve it within an hour, without any question of the final outcome. I mastered this one.
Now on to sauces!