One of my favourite food things, whenever I’m back in France, is to head to a small neighbourhood rotisserie or one in a market, and grab a delicious roast chicken for a picnic lunch with family. French rotisserie chickens have a very particular taste you just can’t seem to get elsewhere. Sometimes it has to do with the fact they are poulets fermiers, chickens that are really free range, and often fed on corn, so the flesh is golden rather than white. Those are, of course, particularly delicious. But not all rotisserie chickens are from those superior breeds (the cheaper ones aren’t, anyway), yet all of the roast birds taste really very good indeed. It’s to do with a savoury, deep golden brown skin(not crisp, but melt-in-the-mouth) and very moist flesh, and up till recently I had no idea how you could possibly reproduce that at home. Did you need special rotisserie equipment, maybe? And then, I came across a page from a French blog which set out a very simple recipe for how you could in fact produce a roast which had exactly the taste of rotisserie chicken. I admit I was a little sceptical at first, because it seemed in a sense counter-intuitive, what you did with the chicken–and yet it turned out perfectly, and now it’s been several times since I’ve made a roast chicken that has that amazing rotisserie taste. Absolutely definitely worth trying!
So, what do you need? A chicken of course, then also Dijon mustard(about 1-2 tablespoons); 3 garlic cloves; juice of 1 lemon; butter; 125 mls warm chicken stock(use half a stock cube only); herbs(your choice, but thyme and bay leaf or thyme and parsley work well); salt and pepper. What you do is first massage the chicken with half the lemon juice, then pour the rest into the cavity. Put the herbs into the cavity, chop the garlic(don’t crush it) and put half in the cavity, half under the chicken. Next, massage the mustard into the chicken, taking care that all the skin of the bird is well-coated–the mustard needs to almost disappear into it. Place the chicken in a roasting tin, salt and pepper it, sprinkle a few small pieces of butter over it(I also add a tiny bit of canola/sunflower oil), and then pour in the stock under the chicken, not over it. Put in the oven at 210C for 30 minutes, then turn down to 180C and cook for a further 45-60 mins (depending on size of the chicken).
Serve with roast potatoes or salad and good bread. I also make a sauce for the chicken which is basically just the utterly delicious cooking juices, to which extra lemon juice and pepper have been added. The whole thing is truly sensational–and simple, at the same time!