heston blumenthal’s perfect roast chicken

Looking for Heston’s roast chicken from How To Cook Like Heston? Read it here

For my most recent birthday, two close friends bought me volume 1 of Heston Blumenthal’s In Search of Perfection. They were coming round for dinner so I thought it totally appropriate to serve up dinner from these pages. Heston is a genuine influence on me, a real visionary. Everyone rags on the “bacon and egg ice cream” etc but the point of his cooking is to examine what it is we enjoy when we go through the process of eating. What sparks the endorphins, is it taste, texture, smell, atmosphere…? The answer is probably all of these, and this particular book (based on the BBC series) is trying to find the right balance of all these elements to make the ‘perfect’ example of it’s type.

I’m very happy with the way I make roast chicken, so giving myself over to this recipe was task enough. However it’s Hesto, the master, so I’m completely up for it. As you might expect, perfection doesn’t come that swift – the key is in several stages, though none of them are terribly taxing. Essentially there are four stages: brining, drying out, slow roasting, pan-browning.

I fell at the first hurdle; I didn’t get poulet au bresse, the queen of chicken. But I did get a fine free range example from a new butcher I found in Chingford. The first part of preparation was brining: I’ve recently had some real successes with brining chicken so I knew this phase was going to produce succulent, tender meat. As is often the case with Heston dishes there’s some maths to get us going: it’s an 8% brine solution. This involves weighing the pot with the chicken, covering it with water and then weighing it again to work out how much water there is. You can then work out 8% table salt from this measurement. The chicken was then brined for six hours, and then soaked in clean water for a further hour to remove the excess salty flavour.

chicken post-briningHere’s how the chicken looked after the brining. At this point the bird was dunked in boiling water for thirty seconds before the cooking was halted in ice water. This stage was then repeated – this part is crucial as it kills off bacteria that won’t get eliminated by the slow ‘n’ low cooking time later on. The chicken is then left to dry overnight in the fridge, with a rather attractive clean dishcloth covering it.

The next day was cooking time. The plan is to cook it long and slow on a low heat. Heston says that a raw chicken is 80% water, and roasting is a long battle to retain as much of that as possible. The brining is the first part of that, affecting the meat in such a way as to make it retain moisture. The cooking is unusual: a temp of 70°C for around 4 – 6 hours until the internal temperature of the bird is 60°C. (The oven is supposed to be at 60°C too, but my oven can’t go that low – I could probably force it by cracking the door open but it’s just too random. It’ll have to do.) I have to say, it was utterly terrifying cooking it that low and peering at it through the glass door. It sat there, not leaking any juice, not noticeably colouring. After years of roasting birds in the traditional way of “high heat, turn it down when it’s in” cooking, this just felt wrong. Hour after hour I inserted the probe, the temperature slowly creeping up the gauge.

chicken post-roastingEventually it reached an internal temp of about 62°C, prodding the chicken all over to ensure an good average. This took about 6 and a half hours. It looked like the picture, barely coloured, a sort of pale gold. However the book does warn that this might be the case. I then left it to rest for an hour or so while I got on with the accompanying broccoli, carrots and roast potatoes. Something else I also did in this interval was to prepare a luscious chicken butter: I’d removed the wing tips and fried them in butter, then discarded the chicken bits. This butter was going to be used at the last minute.

After resting, the chicken is technically ready but the skin is anaemic and not enticing. So there’s probably the most difficult stage here: frying an entire chicken in a pan with brittle skin. I heated my biggest pan as high as it would go, added a little oil and then began frying the chicken with my monstrous barbeque implements, gently turning the bird over and over until it had finally taken on that bronzed appearance that sets the saliva going. Then as a final touch, I used a small knife to make tiny holes and inserting a baster to inject chickeny buttery juice into the flesh of the bird, infusing it with richness and savoury goodness.

perfect roast chicken

With wild, anticipatory glee I carried the chicken on my stoutest chopping board to the table and carved to order. Was it worth it? Should I have slaved all these hours for any gain at all?

YES.

Everyone agreed, many times over, that it was the best chicken we’d ever had. Unfortunately my pictures of the served meat didn’t come out. The carving was practically non-existent, no hacking or sawing here. The meat still very firm from having lost none of it’s moisture. And the flavour… it was richer and more intense, and the chicken-ness filling the mouth. It was a superb bird indeed. My friends were still texting me a day later to compliment the chicken. So I think it was worth it. Note I didn’t season the chicken at any point other than to add a little pepper before roasting. That said, some of the meat near the bone was quite ruby-pink and a little disconcerting; I’m not entirely sure why. I’d like to try a variation though next time: keep the brining, keep the last-minute basting but cooking with regular semi-fast roasting. That might well be a perfect combination of techniques.

One puzzling omission though: this is a ‘perfect’ recipe yet there’s no mention of gravy. Yes the meat is totally moist but the gravy is a wonderful unifier of the roast dinner, it brings everything together. You certainly couldn’t make it with juices from the pan; there was a teaspoonful in the bottom of the tray. I couldn’t fathom a roast chicken without some so I roasted off some root veg and added stock to have on the side.

Footnote: for those queasy about internal bacterial temperatures and the like, Heston published an article on how 60C held for 12 minutes can kill pathogens.

Heston Blumenthal’s perfect roast chicken:

A chicken, as good as you can afford

Table salt

50g butter

  • Remove the wingtips from the bird and reserve for later.
  • Soak the chicken in an 8% brine solution for 6 hours.
  • Rinse the chicken thoroughly, then soak in clean water for an hour, changing the water every 15 minutes.
  • Dunk the chicken in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place into iced water. Repeat this step once more.
  • Leave the chicken overnight in the fridge on a wire cooling rack over a baking tray, covered with a clean dishcloth.
  • Heat the oven to 60°C, and cook the chicken for 4 – 6 hours until the internal temperature is 60°C throughout.
  • Leave the chicken to rest for an hour. Meanwhile fry the wingtips in the butter until the butter turns brown. Strain off and reserve – you can discard the chicken bits.
  • Heat a pan as hot as you can and add a little oil. Fry the chicken on all sides until evenly browned.
  • Using a needle baster inject the bird with the chicken butter all over – be as generous as possible.
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61 thoughts on “heston blumenthal’s perfect roast chicken

  1. EssexGourmet

    I found this post absolutely fascinating… Who doesn’t love a roast chicken? To take this beaut bird to the next level is definitely worth a go, although I may just omit the exceptional slow cooking – impatience and that.

    Reply
    1. Clare

      Hello! Very interested to read how you got on with the heston chicken. I was going to attempt this with the christmas turkey but decided it was tempting epic fail so didnt bother!!! Have you tried cooking a regular sized chicken on 130 for 2 1/2 hours with a flavoured butter under the skin? You get incredibly moist meat but if you do your last basting a good half hour before its ready the skin dries out again and goes crisp! (It can resoggyfy if you cover it totally for resting.) I decided to give this a go after being disappointed with the texture and lack of moisture from roasting at usual 180 – 190 and found it was fantastic! You can bung your par boiled and then cooled to-be-roast potatoes in too and let them chillax at the same time – dead easy! I normally take the chickies “hocks” off below the drumsticks for the stock making too, I noticed you left yours on. Perhaps give my version a go and see what you reckon? I might have to try the brining stage next time and check the difference. Thank you! Clare

      Reply
      1. Gary Post author

        I haven’t combined a slow cook with butter, that’s a really interesting idea. However this slow cook results in such a moist bird already that I’m not sure it needs it! I do often take the hocks off but not always. But do try brining, it’s fab!

        Reply
        1. Clare NowThen

          bah! Why would someone omit butter if they had any legal opportunity to use it!!! haha. I did another chicken this weekend and did the wing tip brown butter…then slightly cooked some very finely sliced white onion in it to just take the rawness off them, stuffed some tarragon in and put a little more solid butter to it and stuffed that under the skin – then usual 130 degrees for 2 1/2 hours and it was fantastic. The onions imparted a great flavour with the tarragon and brown butter but mostly disappeared into the gravy juice. Didnt have time to do the brining stage again but promise i will give it a go at some point! Enjoying reading how everyone else who tried it is getting on with their attempts too. I think my next adventure with chicken will be attempting to remove the main part of the carcass while leaving the chicken body in one piece with the legs etc on so it can be stuffed and reshaped with a forcemeat of some sort. Should be “interesting”…or at the least, funny!

          Reply
          1. Gary Post author

            The brining is almost the best bit! Onions and tarragon and butter sounds like a winner to me though.

            Reply
            1. Clare NowThen

              i recommend it! I must read more as I dont understand the science behind the brining as surely the salt draws out moisture from the chicken and the whole idea is to cook it in a way that keeps it moist. This is why even when I do mine at 130 though itll still stay moist, the flavoured butter basting adds flavour that missing the brining lacks and you can put all sorts of other combinations with it rather than just the salty taste of brining. You can even leave it in the fridge to marinade with the butter under the skin and cook once its reached room temperature omitting all the rinsing etc. I do love the wingtip brown butter idea though, adds a whole new dimension.

              Reply
              1. Gary Post author

                I love your comments Clare, they’re bursting with excitement! Brining uses osmosis to transfer flavours between the water and the meat. It’s capable, with the assistance of salt, of transferring any flavour. Asian spices work particularly well. Either way, wingtip butter is a knockout :-)

                Reply
                1. Clare

                  haha am getting a bit obsessed with this ole wingtip butter….we’re having chicken (AGAIN!) tomorrow and ive made the butter today – but i couldnt get any extra wings today and had to settle for some thighs that were reducted. Ive peeled the skin off and boned them out (raggily to keep some meat on the bones for the flavour) and I wrapped the thigh bones back up in their skins and cooked them off in the butter instead. Its only gone and bl**dy worked too! Then i sweated off onions in it like before and as ive been on a hedgerow scavenge today, its got a load of wild garlic mixed in with it too!!! I then boiled the thigh skin bone combo in a bit of water and its made a very flavourfull (albeit small amount of) chicken stock/jus gras thing that will be for the gravy tomorrow. Neato! Im loving this slow cooking chicken, cant get enough of it. we picked up a reduced whole duck today too so we are going to try slow cooking that over the weekend and experiment a bit. Got a feeling itll need longer having a good insulating layer of fat to slowly render – might have to let you know how i get on with that. If unlike me, you eat more than just chicken, Ive got a great mousse (a sweet one) recipe Ive just developed this week you can have seen as you were so nice to say you liked my comments! Thank you for that! :D

                  Reply
                  1. Gary Post author

                    Had a roast chicken myself yesterday, and did it exactly to this recipe. So, so good. I haven’t had wild garlic yet this year, I must get out and find some.

                    Tell me how the duck goes, should work great! I have been known to eat more than chicken and you’re very welcome to send that mousse recipe – I’d love to put a guest post up!

                    Reply
                    1. Clare

                      hooray! Ok here it is….I stole some of the quantities of cream – eggs etc from some other recipes I read and developed this from those so cant claim total brainship. I wanted to make something lemon grass – green tea ish, then it evolved into tea with something else and finally wound up as lemon and ginger tea mousse when I decided matcha green tea powder is just too out of my budget to bother persuing at the mo…so this occured….

                      Lemon and Ginger Tea Mousse
                      Serves 4 (to 6 full-ish people)
                      3 sheets leaf gelatine
                      2 egg yolks
                      115g caster sugar
                      236ml milk
                      236ml double cream
                      2 lemon and ginger tea bags ( I used twinings but I believe being politically correct demands I quip that other brands are also good….)
                      and 2 regular tea bags
                      A Lemon

                      Pop your gelatine leaves in tub with cold water to rehydrate.

                      Heat up your milk with all the tea bags in it slowly – dont burn it on the bottom of the pan. This leads to fail. When its warmed to the point of steaming just before bubbling turn off and steep a bit. Get all the good stuff out! Mash yer bags!

                      Take out exhausted bags and give them a well deserved rest in the bin. Whisk your sugar and yolks in a bowl til they go nice and pale and lovely. Whip cream in another bowl til softly swooning.

                      Reheat milk gently if you need to, grab your gelatine and squeeze out the water, add to the warmed milky tea and stir til dissolved. Whilst whisking pour your warmed milky tea jelly into the egg and sugar mixture in a nice stream. Pass through a sieve into the whipped cream and mix together. Now, squeeze in some fresh lemon juice, one big cheek of lemon should be enough. It just gives the lemon flavour a boost and adding it right at the end keeps it fresh rather than it cooking out at all.

                      Deposit mousse mixture into readily awaiting mousse-proof recepticles. I used some tiny dainty tea cups to add further confusion and laughs. You can get 4 decent sized portions out of it or 6 measly super model ones. Chill in the fridge for about 3 hours and they should then be pleasantly boingy but not rubbery!

                      I made some shortbread biscuits to go with the mousse to add texture, and prettiness on the saucers! I added a little powdered ginger into the mix to tie in with the vibe of the mousse. It was really good!

                      I hope you like the post. Perhaps you should have a page for followers recipes!
                      Please try the mousse, its very good!

                      Thanks
                      Clare

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  4. John Lister

    An easier way to figure out the weight of the water would be to pour it from a full measuring jug, work out how much you used by seeing how much is left, then converting (1 millilitre = 1g)

    Just bought the book. Damn Amazon and it’s 1-click convenience.

    Reply
    1. roastpotato Post author

      What a John Lister-esque response ;) The theory would work if I had a big enough measuring jug… the largest I own is 1 litre. (Heston also makes the same ml / g comparison in the book btw).

      Which version did you buy? I notice he’s just released a 2-volumes-in-1 edition.

      Reply
      1. John Lister

        I remember learning in junior school that 1 millilitre of water weighs one gram and is one cubic centimetre, and being utterly amazed because I thought that was just a freaky coincidence!

        I got the one from the page you linked to, though I got a used copy for £2, so we’ll see what turns up.

        Reply
      2. Jeroen

        “The theory would work if I had a big enough measuring jug… the largest I own is 1 litre.”

        You can do it with the 1 liter jug too. Just count how many jugs you used. ;-)

        i.e. 2.5 jugs used = 2.5 l = 2.5 kg = (2.5 kg water) x (80 g salt/kg water) = 200g salt

        Reply
  5. roastpotato Post author

    That is prob volume 1. Can’t grumble for £2 though! Hope you enjoy the book. If you try any of the techniques, I’d love to hear about it.

    Reply
  6. John Lister

    Well, the book is still in the post, but I watched the TV show episode about the chicken and gave it a try.

    I had planned to get a farmer’s market chicken specially but forgot their whole “early to bed, early to rise” deal and walked up at 4pm to find they were all long gone. I had to settle for the second most expensive range in Tesco (free range but not organic as those were only available in jumbo sizes) but it seemed to do the trick.

    First minor error was mistaking the wingtip for the shin so I had to leave the bird as an amputee!

    Brining/rinsing/blanching was all simple enough, though it’s a terrifying amount of salt to see before you put it in.

    Come cooking day, I simply didn’t trust 60 degrees as the internal temperature as every recommended minimum I could find was above that (plus there was an unfortunate incident with some dodgy thighs in my household earlier this week), so I opted for the Food Standards Agency figure of 70 as a goal.

    The cooking proved an interesting exercise as I was finally persuaded to get an over thermometer and discovered that my electric oven overstates its temperature by around 20%!

    The cooking went fine, with a reassuring chickeny smell after a couple of hours, and it hit 68 degrees with an hour to go, possibly because it was only a kilo. The one odd thing was that I had a couple of tablespoons worth of juices. I don’t know if that was it being a lower quality bird, or if I should have reduced the bringing time for the smaller size and not doing so made it too moist (if such a thing is possible!)

    The biggest hitch came with the fact that my oven is so slow to heat up that to get it up to a suitable heat and then roast potatoes properly took a fair bit more than the hour the chicken was supposed to be set aside for and after a while it’s internal temperature began to drop towards 50. Obviously it was already cooked at this point, but I wanted to play it safe.

    I got round this by giving it five minutes in the oven with the potatoes to bring it back up to 60 (without it beingin long enough to toughen), then leaving the chicken in its roasting pan on the hob at a very gentle heat. Thanks to the juices bubbling this helped darken the skin a little, which I worried might be undoing the good work but proved not to be the case. To be honest, it was looking perfectly passable at this point and the final quick frying was indeed purely for perfection purposes.

    Said frying didn’t prove too much hassle – I was a bit worried about getting splashed by the oil, but the skin soaked it up remarkably quickly and nicely crisped up. The butter basting was somewhat less sophisticated than designed as it turns out a 57p baster from Wilkinsons isn’t quite as precise as a syringe!

    After all that, I can agree it was definitely worth it – it was so tender and plump that it almost made carving trick because it simply fell apart! As for the taste, it was equal to the best I’ve ever had. I’ve definitely had stuff as good, but I can’t recall where because I don’t remember ever having roast chicken in a restaurant before, and it was certainly better than any home-cooked meal I can remember. My wife tried to describe it and came up with it tasting “big”, like you got more chicken with every mouthful.

    Overall, the technique is definitely worth it if you can fit it around your schedule (which is easy enough for me working from home). The actual work you have to do isn’t really that time consuming.

    What I might try next time is simplifying the final stages as follows:

    * Fry the wingtip butter, strain it, put it back in the pan, add any juices from the roasting tray, heat it up
    * Make a few piercings in the chicken so the flesh is opened up in places
    * Fry off the skin in the butter/juices rather than using separate oil, the idea being to crisp/brown the skin, while letting a little butter seep into the flesh

    Reply
    1. roastpotato Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences John.

      Re: the whole temperature/safety thing, this is why the pre-fridge boiling stage exists. This will kill off bacteria in and around the bird. I agree that it is utterly nerve-wracking though, it’s so contrary to everything else you know about cooking poultry.

      I like the taste being described as “big” – very accurate. The salting brings on an umami quality to the meat which really improves it’s lingering sensation in the mouth.

      The only slight problem I can see with your end-stage simplifications is that there’s an increased chance that butter & juice could burn, having being previously cooked, leaving a bitter taste on the finish. Would be a shame to waste after all that effort!

      Think I might tackle his pizza next…

      Reply
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  8. Yousif

    I just bought a chicken to try this recipe. For a Blumenthal recipe, it seems quite easy to do. My only concern is the cooking time. I’m worried that it will be done either long before my guests arrive or far to late. So I have two questions: 1. How much does a typical chicken like those used in the recipe weigh? Mine is 1,4 kg, so I expect it to need less time. 2. It’s supposed to go directly from the fridge to the oven, right? So it starts cooking at five degrees, not room-temerature?

    Btw, I’ll try to skip the pan-frying at the end, and use a gas torch instead

    Reply
    1. roastpotato Post author

      Hi Yousif

      My bird was about 1.7kg. Over such a long period there are too many factors to ensure it’s ready at a particular time – I would use the one hour resting time as a good buffer for when your guests are arriving. If the resting went on to two hours I wouldn’t panic too much; leave the bird under plenty of foil and perhaps an old towel while it sits.

      Mine went straight from the fridge to the oven – probably not a good idea to leave this one hanging around on a counter before cooking due to the gentle temperatures involved.

      I worry this reply is too late for you, but good luck anyway!

      Reply
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  10. Dennis

    I have tried this recipie once before and is attempting it the second time, if you cook it at 60C you dont have to worry about it getting 15min to much, it wont dry up that easy unless you cook it at higher temperature, and for me, this is perfect for a busy day at home, it will take of it self no maintenance while in the oven at all :)

    Tip for the last roasting, when you fry it in the oil, pour some of that oil over it to, if the oil is hot enough, the skin will quickly crisp even at the hard to fry places, i had a great succes with that, just be carefull please, the oil will burn you badly ;)

    Reply
    1. Gary Post author

      Good advice Dennis – it is easy to overlook the fact that you can just leave this to cook alone, another 30 minutes over won’t hurt at all.

      Reply
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  13. Kees

    Haven’t read the other comments yet, so it might already be there, but my answer to the gravy problem is simple: take 1 liter (for 2 people) of your best homemade, unsalted chicken stock, reduce it to a jus, maybe thickened in your favorite way, season, et voilá.

    Reply
  14. Raphael

    It appears that Heston has changed his idea of a perfect roast chicken ever so slightly. An article posted in April 2010 on the Sunday Times, Heston describes his cooking method in the following manner:

    “With the chicken, the main problem is preventing it from drying out during cooking, so we bung it in a pot first thing Sunday morning and cover it with a mixture of water and salt (40g per 500ml water). It means starting work early but it’s worth it: brining will make the end result seem much moister and juicier. Six hours later, the chicken is carefully rinsed free of salt in several changes of water and then put in the oven at 70C to 80C for three to four hours, until the thickest part of the breast has reached 60C and that temperature is held for 12 minutes. (In our household, the oven thermometer and digital probe are as essential a part of the roast as a good carving knife.) When the chicken’s ready, it can be left to rest for an hour or more while the other stuff is cooked. We simmer the potatoes until they’re almost falling apart — it’s in those cracks and fissures that fat collects, which makes for a crunchy crust — and then put them in a 180C to 190C oven in a roasting tin containing preheated olive oil at least a centimetre deep. (Not duck or goose fat here: it gives great flavour to the potatoes but not so great a crust.) It’ll take at least an hour and, for the last five to ten minutes, we’ll put the chicken back in the oven, too, and crank up the heat to the maximum to give it some colour.” – (Blumenthal, Heston).

    The main changes that strike me are

    a) Slightly higher temperature cooking. Perhaps increasing to 70-80C does not affect the moisture of chicken after all.

    b) Instead of browning on a pan, he does it in a hot oven which isn’t really a big change, but cranking your oven to the highest temperature with roast potatoes cooking in olive oil inside seems like a recipe for a smoky kitchen.

    c) Wingtips are not removed, and no butter is prepared for injecting the chicken.

    This makes me think. If I were to cook a roast chicken in an 80C oven as Heston does, but on convection (which my oven would automatically lower to 66C), would that promote any browning of the skin over the long cooking time? Convection cooking generally tends to promote browning on roasts and bread and such, but I’m not sure such a low heat method would make any difference. If this worked, it would promote even browning on the bird taking away the need to fry it on a pan, which never comes out evenly.

    Lastly, I tend to use a corn bread pudding recipe to serve as a side that is generally cooked at about 176-177C for 50 minutes. If I threw this in the oven along with the chicken and cooked for the same duration of time as the bird, would my results come out decent?

    I realize that none of you may have tried these methods, but I’m hoping any general expertise of baking knowledge will help you make educated guesses.

    Reply
    1. Gary Post author

      Thanks for bringing that up Raphael.

      What strikes me is the simplification of the recipe. There’s no intermediate drying stage. The pan-frying is gone which I’m somewhat thankful for – if you don’t have some serious tongs it can be difficult to turn a bird in the pan, and there can be lot of hot oil splashback. And the butter stage is lily-gilding; delicious but not essential. I don’t know the context of the interview but perhaps he was trying to portray a balance at home of his technique with a practical recipe?

      The higher temperature allows you to reach that magic internal 60C quicker, and I’m certain he would check to see how much water had been lost.

      I’m not sure what’s in your corn bread pudding – do leave a recipe – but I would guess the raising agent will need the fiery temperature to activate the carbon dioxide. I’m not an baking expert though.

      Reply
  15. Raphael

    Thanks for the feedback Gary. I don’t know how I missed the blanching and drying omission. For me, that is well worth it since it requires little effort, and gives a really nice crispy skin. The context of the interview was about him being home for Sunday Lunch (which is really dinner) because he is always at work and that’s when he gets to spend quality time with his family.

    The recipe I was referring to is an Alton Brown creation. I was expecting it to be good, but it was surprisingly very tasty, and very simple.

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/good-eats/sweet-corn-bread-pudding-recipe/index.html

    Reply
  16. Isamu

    Hi Gary,

    Thank you for this nice post. It’s good to read about someone who actually tried this method. I’m going to use this method too but not on a chicken, but on a turkey.
    HB apparently recommends the same method for turkey. I just went through the brining and boiling. The bird is now in the fridge cooling off. HB uses the same method to crisp the skin, but imagine doing that with a 3.5kg turkey! So I’m a little bit worried about that part. He’s got another way to crisp the skin and that is when the bird has reached 60c, take it out of the oven, heat the oven to 250c and then pop it back in until it’s brown and crispy.
    It is easier than the original way, but what do you think it will do to the moisture of the bird?

    As you mentioned, you didn’t get any juices out of the chicken. Which might mean that I won’t get any juices out of my turkey either to make some great gravy. To make things worse, my turkey didn’t come with wing tips or giblets which I could use for gravy. I’m afraid it’s going to be a turkey juiceless gravy. I believe that’s the price for a making juicy bird.

    I think I’m going to use another method to crisp the skin. I think I’m going to use how the Chinese make their Crispy Chicken. The method is holding the chicken on a hook with your left hand over a wok with hot oil. With your right hand using a ladle scoop up the hot oil and pour it over the chicken repeatedly. The oil will fall back into the wok to get reheated. Repeat until crispy and occasionally dip the chicken briefly in the wok. It takes a while but the skin will get really really crispy this way. My problem is that I cannot hold a 3.5kg turkey that long with one arm. I also face the risk that the turkey falls off the hook into the wok splashing the hot oil all over me…So I’m going to but the turkey on a rack in an oven tray and then pour the hot oil over it repeatedly.

    Speaking of which. did you use an oven tray or did you put your chicken on a rack?

    I see that you made his bolognese too. I made it a couple of times myself too. It is a lot of work but well worth it.

    Reply
    1. Gary Post author

      Thanks for the well-thought out comment Isamu. The technique certainly applies to any poultry, although if you are going to do this for turkey may I recommend Matthew Fort’s excellent article on the subject:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/nov/20/perfect-roast-turkey-matthew-fort

      That Chinese method for crisping the skin scares the hell out of me! I personally wouldn’t try it. I think finishing the bird in a very hot oven is the way to go. Try out Matthew’s method, I think it’s pretty foolproof.

      Reply
  17. Anita

    Hello,

    I made it also,
    As I red in your post and in the comments, I preferred 75-80c.
    I baked 4,5 hours 2 chickens, 1,5 kgs all together.

    I think, this is the only way to make delicious chicken.
    I won’t make roast chicken on high temperature anymore. :))

    Without the book (I red and tried to memorise the recipe) your blog helped me.
    Sorry for my grammatical mistakes, I’m foreign. :)

    Anita

    Reply
    1. Gary Post author

      Hi Anita

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the chicken!

      (Your English is great, don’t worry!)

      Gary

      Reply
  18. scott

    Tried this last night myself. My oven didn’t go down to 60 so I used a combo of oven thermos and a digital probe (for a couple of minutes) to hover the temp around 60-65. After 7 hrs the inside still wasn’t there… I think my chook was probably too large for anything less than maybe 9 hrs. It was 1:30am by this stage so I stopped :) I checked the breast tho and that was 65 so no prob, so I cut into that and tried. I also had done the butter/wings which I just dipped the chicken into. Overall..very nice! Certainly juicy chicken. As mentioned above I’d like some gravy if I was going to do a full meal… think one of this first season perfection shows has a recipe for gravy when he’s cooking his lamb dish… may try the same but sub the lamb bits for chicken wings. I just did 11 cups of water to 1 cup of salt for the brine… when he said 8% I thought that meant by volume. Not sure how far off my method is compared to 8% weight. Anyway worth the ffort overall as it isn’t really much ‘effort’, just much time, which can do the day before.
    S

    Reply
  19. austin

    Hi! Love the blog. I may have a dab of input: bone as a material is insulating. This, possibly, could explain the slightly undercooked meat surrounding the bone you mentioned.

    Reply
  20. Mansoor

    Hi Gary, as an experiment, I cooked three chickens with three methods: (i) Standard (no pre-preparation, hot oven (190C); (ii) Brined and blanched, hot oven; (iii) Brined, blanched and 60C.

    The difference brought on by the brining was very obvious, so the results of (ii) and (iii) were surprisingly close. Therefore it is possible to skip the long cooking process.

    However, I noted that method (iii) produced more flavour than method (ii), so it is still worth the hassle.

    Some observations for method (iii): you must have a method of checking the internal temperature of the chicken; you cannot go by time. I used one kilo chickens and even those took five hours to begin to get close to the right temperature. To speed things up, I raised the oven temperature to between 70C and 80C at this point – this increased the amount of stock that was produced (still no more than about a tablespoon, if that), but no ill effects since I was monitoring the internal temperature and aiming for a target of just over 60C for twenty minutes.

    By the way, assuming you are starting with very high quality chickens, I should not worry about pinkness around the bone. In Singapore where I live, almost all chicken rice (practically the national dish!) comes this way – and interestingly, the texture of this chicken is very similar to that produced by brining.

    Last comment: someone mentioned corn bread above. Have you tried making Heston’s corn muffins? They are part of his perfect chilli con carne recipe, but can be made on their own and are very straightforward. The result though is exceptional, and when eaten (either hot or cold) with fresh cream, is extraordinary.

    Reply
    1. Gary Post author

      What a top quality comment Mansoor, that’s an astonishing amount of detail.

      I haven’t tried his muffins but lots of people tell me how good they are. I will try them out!

      Reply
  21. Pingback: roast turkey with all the trimmings | Big Spud

  22. Pingback: heston blumenthal’s roast chicken | Big Spud

  23. Courtney

    Hi there, I just tried making this using only the recipe described. I was disappointed, and I’m rather concerned about the risks of food poisoning. I didn’t read the rest of the blog, and I wish I had. I also didn’t have any seasoning (I only presume that this was omitted from the recipe and should have been there),

    The meat was very moist, but became cold after 1h of standing. The meat was pink near the bone. Cutting the legs off revealed fresh marrow that bled onto the cooked meat.

    Overall a bit of a disaster. I think perhaps I should buy his book and read the recipe on there.

    Reply
    1. Gary Post author

      Hi Courtney

      Thanks for getting in touch. This recipe can cause panic I know! If you performed the blanching and dipping stages it should be safe. In my experience no further seasoning was required because of the brining. When resting, I would try a double-layer of foil over the bird, and if you’re going to leave it a long time a towel over that too.

      I recommend you try his recent revision to the recipe which is a little simpler and a bit more foolproof. Look!

      http://bigspud.co.uk/2012/02/05/heston-blumenthals-roast-chicken/

      Gary

      Reply
  24. Pingback: heston blumenthal’s perfect roast chicken | Big Spud « mrsbeetlessupertips

  25. Sarah Hayward

    Made this recipe today. The breast meat was wonderful but the rest was frighteningly pink and red. Am I going to poison us all if we eat the pink?

    Reply
    1. Gary Post author

      Happened to me too. It’s your call of course, however the temperature gauge will tell you when it’s reached a safe enough temperature to kill off harmful bugs.

      Reply
  26. anna

    I watched this program the other night, and he mentions at the beginning that chicken’s are only trussed to make packaging easier, and that you should cut the string off before cooking to ensure the flesh between the leg and body cooks properly. This might be the reason why your meat was very pink in that area? I think normal roasting would dry out the legs if you didn’t have the chicken trussed but cooking slow and low like Heston does shouldn’t be a problem.

    Reply
  27. Broder X

    I might be trying to revive a dead thread here, but just wanted to tell you a spin on this I did, that worked really well. Success by accident, of sorts.

    I saw the Heston show half a year back, and remembered him using a syringe, but that was about that. So I thawed some good chicken stock I had in the freezer, and using a syringe, pumped the meat of the chicken full of it. I then put the beast in the oven at 100C for 2,5 hours (which was probably a bit too long actually (1,5 kilo bird). Let it rest, and torched the skin.

    It was glorious! Well, it was very juicy.

    Quick question: Do you think it will affect the meat negatively if it is left in the brine over night? Or even longer, say 12 – 14 hours?

    Reply
    1. Gary Post author

      No dead threads round here :-)

      Glad your experiment worked well. On the subject of over-brining: the meat shouldn’t be negatively affected however it will start to get progressively saltier to the point of inedible. This is hard to judge depending on the wateriness of your bird and the size of it. If you’re worried, re-soaking in clean water for thirty minutes should help balance that back out.

      Reply

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