My mother and I are always bickering about the best way to prepare roast chicken, and when she's decided she's grown tired of fighting, she'll simply say, "But this is how Julia does it." Those swift words silence me, and, ultimately, whatever Julia's method is, it always wins. It made me think, what is it about Julia Child's recipes that reign supreme?
It may sound blasphemous, but we YumSugar editors have agreed that at times, Julia's recipes can be confusing, difficult to follow, and emotional. The pressure is majorly on to successfully replicate each of her recipes — and do them justice. One missed step or accidental mishap sends a flood of panicky hormones into my bloodstream. And then, I take a deep breath and remember that Julia took risks, made mistakes, and definitely dropped things, but she persevered.
Julia's recipes reign supreme because they are about learning through experience and, most importantly, maintaining the integrity of traditional French cuisine. So I go through the motions (and emotions) while attempting Julia's roast chicken. Thanks be to Julia, I use my "courage of conviction" to persevere.
Julia's method involves flipping the chicken, so it cooks on its sides. This browns more surface area of the chicken, but the true caramelization occurs by continuously basting the chicken in an oil and butter mixture. The end result is an charming, crisp chicken that looks like it's been pulled off of a rotisserie.
My mother admits, the slippery, hot chicken can be difficult to handle and the perfectly caramelized skin is easily ripped. To avoid this, use a large spatula to lift the chicken from the pan very carefully, then ease the chicken onto its side with a pair of tongs.
Rips, slips, and mini setbacks aside, the finished bird is breathtaking. "While it does not require years of training to produce a juicy, brown, buttery, crisp-skinned, heavenly bird, it does entail such a greed for perfection that one is under compulsion to hover over the bird, listen to it, above all see that it is continually basted, and that it is done just to the proper turn," Julia writes in the original recipe intro. Indeed, above all else, set an alarm for every 10 minutes and baste that bird devotedly. Learn how to make roast chicken.