Truffle Butter Chicken

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I had a dream. No, not that kind of dream. This was a dream about chicken and truffle butter. For the past year, every time I bought a chicken from Key Foods I’d see D’Artagnan truffle butter sitting higher up on the shelf. The price didn’t intimidate me–it was only $7–but its use did: what could I do with it? How does one use truffle butter? And then the other day it came to me: I could rub it all over a chicken (a D’Artagnan chicken, as a matter of fact), put some under the skin, and roast it. And that’s exactly what I did.

Here’s the raw chicken with its new truffle butter skin cream:

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And here’s what truffle butter looks like when you open it:

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If you’ve never smelled a truffle before, may I recommend you buy some truffle butter? It’s a good introduction. That smell is unlike any you’ve ever smelled: fungal, earthy, rich. I knew it would be good for my chicken.

My process was pretty simple. I preheated the oven to 400 and I washed the chicken thoroughly and then dried it incredibly well. I used a whole forest full of paper towels just to make sure it was dry (sorry Al Gore) and then, when it was, I put it in the roasting pan and sprinkled the inside with salt and pepper. I put a bunch of rosemary in the cavity, tied the legs, and then I got to it with the truffle butter (which, at this point, was at room temperature). I put big pats of it under the skin by the breast–making space with my finger. Then I shmeared it all over the bird and, after that, sprinkled the whole thing generously with salt and pepper.

Here’s where I made a mistake. Surrounding the chicken I put a mix of halved red potatoes (smart), onions (ok), and halved button mushrooms (you idiot!) It turns out that mushrooms are packed with liquid which, as the chicken cooked, made the oven a steamy environment–just the thing you don’t want for crisp skin. Here’s the chicken before it cooked:

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I put dollops of the truffle butter on top of the potatoes and vegetables and in it all went in the oven for an hour.

Here’s my final plate:

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The potatoes got nicely caramelized as did the mushrooms. The chicken was moist and good but, to be honest, the truffle flavor didn’t really come through. I later devised a new strategy, to be attempted next week.

See, Thomas Keller’s recipe for roast chicken has you roast the bird without any fat–just salt and pepper–and then, when it comes out of the oven, you put butter on it. So I’ll do his recipe except instead of plain butter when it comes out of the oven, I’ll use truffle butter. And that’ll be a triumph and you will respect me like a god.

Meanwhile, I made a pretty awesome sandwich with the leftover chicken the next day:

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That’s just the chicken pieces, basil, tomato, bacon, a little vinaigrette on the bottom half and then mayo on the top. Yum! Perhaps I’m a god after all. (Don’t worry: I didn’t eat the whole thing.)

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