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Dec 28, 2010 03:08 PM

Having trouble executing Thomas Keller's Bouchon simple roast chicken

I have been trying a few times to roast a whole chicken (2.5-3lbs) in the simple/favorite Thomas Keller style that you can see in video here ( or on this blog post (

I just saw the video again and I noted a few things:
-- his chicken comes out way way darker on the skin than mine after roasting 50-60 min
-- the bottom of his chicken is also super crisp after he sets it on A LOT aromatic vegetables which I would think would add a lot of steam in the oven; when I set mine on some vegetables or potatoes, the rest of the skin is somewhat crisp, but the bottom is super-soggy :(

He may have a fancy convection oven that helps... I have a simple gas oven, and I started roasting at 500F to see if that would help, and it did a little, but not to the extent to get as great browning as you see in his quick video. I'm especially confused at how the bottom of his chicken is also crisp... mine is almost gross in sogginess by following his procedure.

I think drying the chicken skin is key, and I _think_ I have it sufficiently dry, patting with several paper towels and salting liberally.

Any ideas? Similar issues?

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  1. Try the Hazan method by roasting for about 20 min. breast side down; then flip it up so the breast is topside, hot oven is the key for first half hour or so, a V shaped rack helps too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ospreycove

      Thanks for the tips... I understand the reason for doing breast-side down... I guess for this post, I'm more curious on the why his is so different from mine when (at least I _think_) I'm following the same procedure. Thanks though!

    2. Are you putting the chicken in cold? You should take it out of the fridge about an hour before you cook it. A convection oven will help a bit, as will roasting it in a V-shaped rack.

      Also, are you sure your oven is at 500F? Get an oven thermometer and demonstrate that it's at the temperature you think it's at. Here's my rendition of that chicken:

      2 Replies
      1. re: Indirect Heat

        I temper the chicken for about 45 minutes... I guess I could try a v-shaped rack, I liked the idea of just using a saute or fry pan.

        I do have an oven thermometer, the oven is accurate. Cool post by the way!

        1. re: nasv

          I just use a pan, but the bottom of my chicken is a tad wet (the rest of the chicken has *perfect* skin). We serve the breasts and the legs the day I make it (for my wife and I and my son), and pull all the other meat off later for sandwiches.

          Are you really drying the skin and using a full tablespoon of salt? If all those things are accurate, not sure why you're not getting the skin. My oven is a convection oven. That might be the difference...

      2. I personally think you are looking at a bit of TV magic here. I make this chicken all the time. I never put it in with vegetables, just right in the pre heated pan. I only say TV Magic because look at the color of the chicken as opposed to the color of the veggies it was sitting on..

        3 Replies
        1. re: King of Northern Blvd

          TV magic... that _would_ make sense (and make me feel better). I just couldn't figure out how he was getting such a dark caramelization on the chicken skin in the amount of time he claims.

          When you put the chicken in, you put it in just back-side down into the pre-heated saute pan? The fat renders off on the bottom, does it get weird/sticky/burnt on the bottom?

          1. re: nasv

            I put it into a preheated cast iron skillet back side down. The skin starts to sizzle immediately. It doesn't get burnt and perhaps the best part of the chicken!

          2. re: King of Northern Blvd

            Yeah, I would imagine at least part of this is a contrast issue. At the end of the day, the question should never be does it look like the photo. The question *should* be, is it delicious? Does it reach the tastiest endpoint?

          3. I copied the recipe from somewhere, so I may have made a slight alteration, but my version calls for an oven temperature of 450 degrees F, and it doesn't mention anything about preheating the pan. After the chicken has been rinsed and patted dry, I set in on a couple layers of paper towels to absorb the remaining moisture and let it sit on the counter for about an hour to come up to room temp before prepping it. Dry it again, then truss it, salt and pepper it, and put it in a cold skillet and into the hot oven for about an hour. No problems with the chicken sticking or burning on the bottom, and it does get a nice burnished brown crispy skin. I think putting the chicken on a bed of vegetables will generate steam and you won't get the crispy skin.

            1. watching a video is no way to tell the true color of any food. between their lighting and your computer, with the image hurtling through the inter-tubes, much can change.