Simple Chicken

One-pot techniques from Michael Roberts make a moist and tender bird every time.
Admittedly, I'm spoiled. In my Twin Palms restaurants I get to play with loads of expensive equipment--the kind rarely found in home kitchens. Think wood-fired rotisserie. I have two, one in my restaurant in Pasadena, California, and one in my newest place in Newport Beach. Chicken spit-roasted over a hot fruitwood fire has a seductive, smoky flavor and crispness that even a beautifully oven-roasted bird can't match. Most people come to Twin Palms for the rotisserie chicken, largely because it tastes so good but also because they can't cook like that at home.

I can't cook like that at home either. (Actually, since the kitchen of my new house is being remodeled, I can cook almost nothing there for the time being. I worked out these recipes in my friend Jean Robert Milant's house. Milant, a fine art publisher, has exactly the kitchen I want.) In the past three years, I've been working on ways of perfecting chicken without the luxury of a rotisserie. I've found three techniques--brining, casserole roasting and skillet sautéing--that make very tender and moist chickens (see sidebar). I keep flavor combinations in mind too, how something as simple as a squeeze of fresh lemon livens up chicken. And I try to use as few pots and pans as possible--each of the 10 recipes here needs only one pot. After all, when I'm away from my restaurants I don't have anyone to clean up after me. 


PUBLISHED February 1997

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