Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"If It Ain't Broke . . ."

If you're a fan of the classic poulet roti, you should have read this recent article by Andreas Viestad that was in the Washington Post:

Thomas Keller [chef at New York City's Per Se restaurant] knows exactly how to make the perfect roast chicken. But he chooses not to.

. . . The logical approach would be to use sous vide when roasting chicken, too: to cook the bird for an hour and a half, until it had the perfect interior temperature, and then finish it off in the oven. "It would be perfectly juicy and tender," Keller says.

. . . Keller's reasons for not subjecting chicken to a more precise way of cooking are mainly personal. For him, as for so many others, roast chicken is a dish that, like Proust's madeleine, has personal and cultural importance more than objective culinary value.

To some, hearing Keller admit that he prefers his chicken roasted the old-fashioned way might be equal to catching a sushi chef searing his fish on both sides. It can be viewed as heresy, or as a reminder that one of the world's leading chefs is a human being, too, and that he will sometimes let his guard down and allow food to just be food.

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