Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cook a chicken like Heston

Mr Hippo and myself are very into a cooking show called "How to cook like Heston" these days, where Heston Blumenthal, the magician chef, explains how to cook simple and complex dishes at home with a key ingredient for each episode.

I missed last week's episode on chicken because I was running a workshop and had to work till late that night to prepare for the next day.  But I immediately got the point of Heston's roast chicken recipe, which takes 12 hours plus, when Mr Hippo told me over the phone.

The idea is to maintain the maximum amount of juice and flavor by slowly roasting the chicken at 90C for 3~4 hours first and then by browning the bird as quickly as possible (the recipe actually says "Turn the oven temperature as high as it will go, " and that was worrying--I'd never turned my oven above 220C).  A Chinese recipe called "Beggar's Chicken" has pretty much the same idea but uses clay to form a crust for slow cooking.  Jamie Oliver used a crust made of salt and eggs. 

Anyway, we decided to give the recipe a shot this weekend and here is the picture of our joint-effort.  According to Mr Hippo, this recipe produced better leftovers than my usual recipe but the chicken is not necessarily more desirable at the first meal.  This is because the leftover is more succulent due to slow-cooking, but bone joints still looked red/uncooked when the chicken was first served, which was not very appetizing.  The chicken was also more salty than we like, but that is probably because we left the chicken in brine for too long (16 hours or so).

In conclusion, Mr Hippo recommends we stick to the old recipe in the future.  I concur because 12  hours is simply too much, especially when I am in a rush.  A Hippo-house tradition has been before I leave for a business trip, I roast a chicken for Mr Hippo so that he does not have to cook when I am away, and I have been on the road a lot lately... 

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