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Julia Child’s Classic Roast Chicken

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When Julia Child recommends a fool-proof way to roast a chicken, I sit up, shut up, and listen. 

In celebration of Julia Child’s incredible culinary legacy, this week’s JC100 recipe is the classic roast chicken from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom. Her techniques and tips for roasting a bird are simple and straightforward, and produce a bird with crispy skin and juicy, succulent meat. Even if — like me — you’re too lazy to baste as often as she recommends, the chicken will taste wonderful. Just make sure to follow this guide for cooking time: 45 minutes + 7 minutes per pound [e.g. 4-pound chicken = 45 + 7(4) = 73 minutes]. Also: Use LOTS of butter.

What I love best about this recipe is that you can double it and roast two chickens at the same time. That way, you’ll have plenty of leftovers and two carcasses with which to make bone broth. Winner, winner….oh, you know the rest.

Here’s what to gather to roast two chickens (serves 6-8 people):

  • 2 whole chickens, 4 pounds each
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 small onions, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 4 tablespoons of softened butter
  • 1 cup of chopped carrots
  • 1 cup of chopped yams
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onions

Here’s how to roast the pair o’ birds:

Round up two roast chickens and pat them dry.

Liberally season the birds inside and out with salt and pepper. 

I like to salt my meat for at least a few hours and up to a day before I roast it to maximize  the flavor-boosting potential.

An hour before you’re ready to cook the chickens, take them out of the fridge to come to room temperature. At the same time, put your butter on the counter to soften, and preheat the oven to 425°F.

Once the chickens are no longer chilly, dry them off with a paper towel and stuff the cavities with lemon slices, onion, and thyme.

With a piece of string, tie the drumsticks together…

…and tuck the wingtips back behind the chicken.

Use your fingers to massage the softened butter all over the skin, and lay the chickens breast-side up on the V-rack in a large roasting pan.

Place the roasting pan in the oven for 15 minutes to brown the skin. 

Next, decrease the oven temperature to 350°F and baste every 8 to 10 minutes if you’re so inclined. (Me? I didn’t baste AT ALL. I told you: I’m lazy.)

In a bowl, toss the carrots, yams, and chopped onions…

…with the remaining butter and salt and pepper. 

A half hour after the chicken first went in the oven, add the root vegetables to the pan and toss in the accumulated juices.

Check the chicken for doneness about five minutes before the recommended weight-based cooking time (see formula above) is up. (I checked my pair of 4-pound chickens at the 70 minute mark.) Use an instant read thermometer to make sure the thighs reach 165-170° F.

Remove the rack from the roasting pan and let the chicken rest for 20 minutes prior to carving.

Spoon on the root vegetables, carve up the birds, and dig in.

Julia Child’s Rolled Omelet - Thai Style

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Julia Child's Rolled Omelet - Thai Style By Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I was recently asked to participate in JC100, a national campaign involving restaurants, chefs, bookstores, and bloggers, all celebrating Julia Child and her legacy. Each week from May 7th through August 15th (Julia’s 100th birthday), we’ll receive a recipe of Julia’s to cook (or adapt) and share. I couldn’t wait to participate. After all, Julia has been one of my culinary idols ever since I spied her on my parents’ grainy television screen three decades ago. 

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She fascinated me: A towering, warbly-voiced, grandmotherly figure who could quickly and casually whip up dishes that I’d never seen before in my mother’s Chinese kitchen. Julia was so relaxed in the kitchen — dropping food and picking it up, tasting dishes-in-progress with her fingers, adding butter when in doubt. She was so real (something I can’t say about most television chefs these days), and made even the most difficult recipes look effortless and goofily fun.

Julia inspires me to lighten up (not literally — fat rules!), chill out, and have a blast in the kitchen — regardless of the results. It’s just food, and if you make it with love, it’ll turn out wonderfully.

The inaugural JC100 recipe is Omelette Roulée or rolled omelet from Julia’s classic “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Because I’ve been crushing on Thai omelets (Kai Jeow) as of late, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to combine Julia’s omelet technique and my own Asian pantry ingredients — and ghee instead of butter to make it perfectly Whole30®-friendly. Win-win!

Here’s what to gather to feed one person:

  • 2 large pastured eggs
  • ½ teaspoon Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped scallions
  • ⅛ of a lime
  • 1 tablespoon ghee

Here’s what to do:

Grab a couple of pastured eggs… 

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…and crack ‘em in a bowl.

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Then, measure out the fish sauce

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…and add it to your eggs.

Chop the cilantro…

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…scallions…

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…and lime wedge. Look! There’s your mise en place!

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Puncture the yolks with a pair of chopsticks (or a plain old fork if you’re not down with the Asian theme)…

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…before whisking the eggs and fish sauce thoroughly.

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Add the herbs…

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…squeeze the juice from the lime wedge…

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….and mix until blended.

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Heat the ghee in a seasoned 8-inch cast iron skillet over high heat.

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Swirl it around to cover the sides of the pan, and add the eggs.

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Let the eggs sit undisturbed for a few seconds…

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…and then start jerking the pan back towards you at a 20 degree angle so the omelet begins to roll over itself at the bottom of the pan.

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Once it’s mostly cooked through, grab a plate…

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…and tip the omelet out of the pan.

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Garnish with additional cilantro and scallions, and dig in!

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Thank you, Julia!