Salt-Crusted Chicken Recipe

I was recently interviewed for the website of French publisher Larousse, and one of the questions was, “What is it that appeals to you in a recipe?” I replied that I was drawn to recipes that a) were simple, b) featured flavor pairings that were sure-footed (and optionally unusual) and c) gave me the opportunity to learn a new technique.

All three qualities are united in today’s recipe, originally found in Yves Camdeborde’s fantastic little book Un Dimanche en famille, which I’ve written about in glowing terms before. It is a recipe for salt-crusted chicken, a chicken that is wrapped in a heavily salted dough before it’s baked in the oven.

The all-important wow factor is at play here: breaking the salt crust open to reveal the golden chicken nested inside never fails to elicit a few gasps and squeals in the audience.

The salt crust thing is a classic technique I had long ambitioned to try — I’ve even amassed a handful of almost identical recipes for it in my clippings file over the years — but it had always made me feel two parts incredulous and one part intimidated, so I’d never acted on that ambition.

Camdeborde’s recipe (which I found reprinted here, if you want to take a look) must have shown up at just the right time in my maturation process as a cook: it was laid out in a way that seemed very straightforward, and if his take on sablés was anything to go by, he was a trustworthy recipe writer.

Maxence and I hardly ever eat meat or fish anymore when it’s just the two of us, but I still cook some on occasion when we have company, so I first gave the salt-crusted chicken a try last spring, when our friends Braden and Laura came over for dinner. It was so successful, the chicken so flavorsome and so perfectly cooked, that I’ve made it half a dozen times since then, which is a freakishly high rate of repetition for me.

The brilliance of this recipe is so manifold that I need bullet points:

- First, Camdeborde has you slip chopped parsley underneath the skin of the chicken, and this definitely improves both the taste and the looks of the beast. (Plus, people wonder how you got the herbs in there, just as they wonder about those boats-in-a-bottle.)

I’m sure some cooks will go faint at the idea that they have to slip their hand between the skin and the flesh of the raw chicken to achieve that effect, and certainly you can skip that part if you prefer, but I’ve never been squeamish about handling meat, so it doesn’t bother me one bit — it’s actually kind of fun to do.

- Second, baking the chicken in a salt crust allows it to cook in its own juices without drying, and this makes for a remarkably tender and succulent meat — even the breasts are uncommonly juicy.

- Because the crust is porous, rather than airtight like a lidded pot would be, the skin bakes to a lightly crisp and appetizing golden hue.

- Since there is no risk of the meat drying out, it also allows for a certain flexibility in the cooking time, and total serenity if your guests happen to be stuck in the metro.

- It makes zero mess in the oven, and as anyone who’s ever roasted a chicken is sorely aware, that’s a definite plus.

- And finally, there’s the all-important wow factor: when you pull the dish out of the oven, you get to break the salt crust open to reveal the golden chicken nested inside, and this never fails to elicit a few gasps and squeals in the audience.

Now that I’ve made this recipe a number of times, it has gradually evolved from the printed version with these few adjustments: I throw a few garlic cloves inside the chicken for extra flavor; I oil the baking dish to prevent the salt crust from sticking to it; it seemed wasteful and inconvenient to use egg whites as a binder in the salt crust when it only ends up in the trash, so I use ground flax seeds gelled in water instead, which is a well-known vegan substitute for eggs; even though Camdeborde says it’s unnecessary, I truss the chicken before wrapping it in the salt dough, so the tips of the thighs and wings won’t pierce through it; I bake the chicken for about twice as long as he recommends, for fall-off-the-bone tender meat.

I am bracing myself for the clamor of people who want a picture of the finished product, and I understand the impulse, but I’ve always served this to friends, and when the chicken is ready all I want is for Maxence to carve it and for us all to sit down and eat while it’s warm — I’m sure you can relate — so it’s never a good time to stop and take a shot. I may try harder next time, but for now, I’m going to ask you to use your imagination, or better yet, try the recipe in your own kitchen. You won’t be sorry.

Salt-Crusted Chicken Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Serves 4 to 5.

Salt-Crusted Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

  • one chicken, organic and/or from a source you trust, about 2 kilos (4.4 pounds)
  • 1 medium bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed with the flat of a knife blade
  • 500 grams (17 2/3 ounces, about 3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 300 grams (10 1/2 ounces, about 1 1/3 cups) coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons thyme, fresh if available, dried otherwise (other dried herbs may be substituted, such as rosemary or oregano)
  • 6 tablespoons ground flax seeds, or 160 grams (5 2/3 ounces) egg whites (from 4 to 5 large eggs)

Instructions

  1. Lightly oil a baking dish big enough to hold the chicken comfortably. Set aside.
  2. If you're using flax seeds rather than egg whites, place them in a bowl with 100 ml (6 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) fresh water, and set aside for about 15 minutes, until the water is completely absorbed and the mixture is gelled.
  3. Place the chicken on a work surface, on its back, with the neck side facing you. Slip your hand under the skin, starting at the base of the neck, and work gently to get your hand further in, lifting the skin from the flesh over each breast, and down over each thigh, without tearing the skin. Once the skin is loosened, slip in the chopped parsley, pushing it underneath the skin to cover the breasts and the thighs as evenly as you can.
  4. Herbed chicken
  5. Place the garlic inside the cavity of the chicken. Using a piece of chicken string, truss the chicken as demonstrated in Peter Hertzmann's Preparing for roasting video at minute 2:30. Set aside.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour with the salt and thyme. Add the soaked ground flax seeds or the egg whites, and 160 ml (2/3 cup) fresh water, and stir with a wooden spoon or a dough whisk until the liquids are absorbed. Turn out onto a clean work surface, and knead briefly until the dough comes together; it should be supple and pleasant to work with, not sticky or crumbly. Add a little water or flour as needed to adjust the consistency.
  7. Flour your work surface well, and roll out the salt dough into a circle large enough to wrap the chicken in it (I shoot for a diameter of about 50 cm or 20").
  8. Salt crust
  9. Place the chicken in the middle of the circle and fold opposite flaps of the dough over the chicken to wrap it entirely. Press gently to seal; if it looks like the dough might not stay put, brush the seams with a pastry brush dipped lightly in water.
  10. Lift the whole thing carefully but with determination, and transfer it to the prepared baking dish. Place in the fridge until ready to bake -- you can leave it in for a few hours or overnight. If the salt crust cracks slightly here or there, don't worry about it; it doesn't need to be 100% airtight.
  11. Remove the chicken from the fridge and preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Insert the dish in the oven and leave it in for 1 1/2 hours (a little more won't hurt if the guests are late; just turn off the oven and leave the chicken inside).
  12. Remove the dish from the oven, and break the salt crust open with a meat mallet or the handle of a chef knife. Once fractured, the crust can be simply pulled open with your oven-mitt-clad hands (it's fun).
  13. Lift the chicken from the open crust, transfer it to a cutting board, and carve it. Discard the crust. Serve the chicken with the cooking juices, perfect roasted potatoes, and a green salad.
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  • http://foodiewifevshungryhusband.blogspot.com FoodieWifeTO

    VERY COOL! I love it. Have you tried it with fish as well? Equally as delicious.

  • Zelnox

    I will have to try this some time!

    It reminds me a bit of cooking chicken Beggar-style like in ancient China. The chicken would be wrapped in lotus leaves and then in clay, and cooked on embers (or buried under the fire).

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Wonderful — I didn’t know of this ancient method, I’d love to see it done.

  • http://janedeereblog.blogspot.com Jennifer @ Jane Deere

    This looks wonderful! I haven’t ever tried this method of cooking chicken. I’ll have to give it a try soon.

  • http://www.zomppa.com Belinda @zomppa

    Oh, yes! This is one of my absolute favorite ways of prepping chicken – it comes out so moist and flavorful.

  • http://www.ceciliesmat.no Cecilie

    This sounds really yummy. I love roasted chicken, and you make this of preparing the poor bird sound even better. I have to try it soon.

    I really like your blog. I’ve followed it regularl for a couple of years now. It’s always a pleasure to read your stories as well as the recipes.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thank you very much, Cecilie, it’s so kind of you to say.

  • Linda

    Thank you for the recipe and the technique. I love your blog; and also love chicken and always looking for a new manner of preparation!

  • http://lacaffettierarosa.wordpress.com Caffettiera

    I’m totally sold. I have always cooked fish in a salt crust – just salt, no flour – and I love it. I have also made salt-and-flour dough countless times to make non edible decorations, since it is very easy to work with and does not shrink.
    In the end, I loved that you did not include a picture of the finished product, since I know I won’t rest until I break that crust myself!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks, Caffettiera, I like the way you think! :)

  • karen

    Your recipe says serve with the juices. I would think that the crust would absorb any accumulated juice from the chicken. Is the crust dry inside when you break it off the chicken, or is the juice in the cavity?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      The crust is a bit moist inside, but completely dry on the outside, so it seals the juices in. When you break the crust, the juices flow out from around the chicken and inside the cavity.

      • karen

        Sold! Thanks for the recipe and the photos!

  • Phoebe

    This sounds so interesting, I am definitely going to try it as soon as our farmer’s markets start up again and I can find a good chicken. One question – your directions say that you *can* leave the chicken in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, but do you have to? Is it like a pie crust that needs to chill before baking, or if I’m ready, can I go ahead and bake it right away?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      You don’t have to, it’s just a convenience if you want to prep the chicken ahead of time. I suspect that the chicken gets a little more salted the longer it sits in the crust, but I’m not certain of that. I’ve most often made it in the afternoon in preparation for dinner, so it’ll sit in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours.

  • http://www.carolineskitchentable.com Caroline Shields

    Fabulous post. We did salt fish in school, but I’ve never done salt chicken. I cannot wait to try… and anything w/ a flexible cooking time gets an a+ in my book.

  • http://naturally-delicious.blogspot.com/ renee

    Thank you for this recipe, I can’t wait to serve it to my next dinner guests. I hope I remember to snap a picture when it comes out of the crust. I know how difficult it can be to think about my camera when a food’s fragrance is enticing me to the table.

  • http://areweinparisyet.blogspot.com Shelli

    So easy and sounds so good even I will try it, who usually reads recipes for entertainment rather than instruction.

    We were served a fish in a salt crust recently and was knocked out by the juiciness and delicious simplicity. This chicken sounds like it would be even better with only slightly more effort. As I’m sure is clear, minimal effort for maximum taste is what I look for!

  • dory

    This is totally fascinating. I had always wondered how people made salt-crusted meat. The idea of making a salt dough you can use to wrap the chicken is brilliant.

    Dory

  • http://operagirlcooks.com Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks

    Fascinating! I’ve never seen anything like this before — the only salt crusts I’ve seen are mixtures of egg whites and salt that are patted on. A rolled out dough sounds so much more fun.

  • http://cuisine.larousse.fr Paula Braconnot

    Dear Clotilde,
    I was a pleasure interviewing you! Thank you for this original and delicious recipe by Mr Camdeborde!
    Talk to you soon!
    Paula for Larousse Cuisine

  • Sigrid

    Since you mentioned your clipping file: How DO you archive your clippings? I haven’t found a way to combine magazine-pages (real paper – the oldfashioned way) and recipes I found on the internet (like this one, that I’ll definitely have to try).

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I do keep “real” clippings and “virtual” clippings separately:the real ones go in a folder organized in separate sleeves by type of dish/preparation, and the ones I find online I organize with the Notebook application, which I use to keep all of my notes on my computer. I have a designated “notebook” for recipes, with separate tabs for the different types of dishes, and I copy/paste the recipes in there, with a link to the source. It doesn’t bother me to have two different systems: I have a relatively good memory for those things, and can usually remember where to look. Hope that helps!

  • http://andbabycakesthree.blogspot.com/ Nicole

    Wow, what a cool recipe. Can’t wait to try it. It sounds cozy roasting a chicken tucked away inside a nice salt/dough package. Great winter dish.

  • http://noblenourishment.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/chicken-spring-onion-terrine/ Catherine

    This looks wonderful! I’ve also only ever seen salt-crusted fish, so this is a new one for me. Your step by step instructions are fab :)

  • http://food-hound.blogspot.com The Food Hound

    I have always wanted to make something in a salt crust, but it’s hard to find a reliable recipe… plus, I needed a boost of confidence to do it :) I’ll have to pop this out at a dinner party and watch my guests faint with anticipation!! Merci!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m happy to provide that boost of confidence, it’s exactly what I hope to achieve with this blog in general. Thanks for commenting!

  • http://thedelightblog.wordpress.com/ Cassandra PW

    This sounds great. I love fish cooked in salt.
    This last Thanksgiving we stuffed the Turkey’s chest cavity and put stuffing under the skin. It was so tasty and kept the meat from drying out.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      That’s a lovely idea. Camdeborde mentions you can also insert truffles or butter underneath the skin, though butter is unnecessary with the salt crust because the chicken is plenty moist as it is.

  • KJ

    OK, I made it tonight! My salt crust was a little patchier than yours (had to add quite a bit of water to be able to roll it) but it functioned well. This chicken was SO delicious! I don’t usually like breast meat but I loved it this time. I must say that my chicken did not have a very browned skin when I cracked off the crust-? I did bake it for the required amount of time and tested the temperature, which was fine. One other note: I flipped the bird onto its breast while resting to let the juices seep in. Wow, it was the best tasting chicken I ever made!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for reporting back, I’m so glad you liked it! Did you use the flax seeds or the egg whites? Also, the skin shade I get is *golden*, not as browned as when you roast the bird sans crust. Thanks for the flipping tip, too.

      • jorkar

        I used egg whites.

        Thanks again, great recipe!

      • vicki shaw

        Bonjour Clotilde!
        I was going crazy trying to find a recipe after watching Chef Michel Roux Jr make it on Master Chefs UK. He does not give quantities. He stuffs the chicken with a wonderful sausage stuffing. I have not made this yet but plan to as soon as there is a break in the heat. I will definitely stuff parsley between the skin and flesh. I have a clawfoot tub full of it in my garden. His method of coating the chicken with the crust is more appealing in the end. He rests the chicken on one circle of dough, then covers it with a second. He presses down very tightly all around to seal the two pieces of dough, then cuts the excess.

        • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

          Thanks for sharing this version!

  • http://gulaschsuppe.wordpress.com Zazuza

    ok, my list with “must try” is quite long, but I must add this one to it too. I’ve heard so many good things about the chicken cooked this way, that I simply have to do it too :))

  • http://sakuraamarillo.com/?p=3180 John

    I’m not so familiar with this method, but recipe is good to try! Thank you for sharing this post.

  • http://www.cursuri-followme.ro cursuri engleza

    I once ate a salt-crusted chicken at a restaurant and I wanted to make my own ever since. Thanks for the opportunity.

  • http://www.seasonalcookinturkey.blogspot.com A Seasonal Cook in Turkey

    Here in Turkey cooking in salt like this is reserved for sea bream and it is a spectacular dish to present! You know, the waiter comes along with his little hammer …. But I don’t think anybody does it in the home so this, and for chicken, would certainly wow them!! Very interesting indeed. Thanks.

    Claudia from Istanbul

  • Michelle

    Do you eat the crust with the chicken?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for asking, I’ve added a clarification in the recipe: the crust is thrown out. It is much, much too salty for eating, though if you have a pet yak, I’m sure you could give it to him for licking. Yaks enjoy that. :)

  • http://www.thisdesignercooks.blogspot.com Stephanie Tramontozzi

    I can’t wait to try this! I love this blog!

  • http://magnificentminimalist.wordpress.com/ Magnificent Minimalist

    OMG, want. I’ve just started roasting chickens over the last month, so finding ways to make them even more exciting is way cool.

    Not that there are many things more exciting than crispy-floppy-salty chicken skin, but adding garlic and herbs and a breakaway crust can’t HURT.

  • Fernanda Scagliusi

    This seems so good, I will surely give it a try! Thank you for sharing, dear Clotilde. Just one thing: I do not like parsley too much, is there any other herb you may suggest?
    Thanks again!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      The parsley in this recipe doesn’t taste like parsley in the finished product: it serves to give the meat a somewhat vegetal accent, but the flavor of the herb is completely transformed in the process, so I strongly recommend you try it as written. If you really don’t want to, perhaps you could use chopped baby spinach in its place.

  • Benny

    I remember the day that i first plucked up the courage to try a version of this recipe – i have never looked back! and as for stuffing flavour under the skin, try going for garlic, lemon zest and thyme – amazing!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for the suggestion, that sounds lovely.

  • Katchen

    Great recipe – tried it this past weekend & I’m rather impressed with the results. I don’t really *do* traditional roast chicken – the closest I get is braised chicken with garlic, bacon & lentils & that’s really hard to beat for tender, juicy, perfectly done chicken. So I was very pleased to find a recipe that rivalled it.

    I need some more practice with the salt-dough; it was too thin covering the top of one side, I used a shade too much water to seal it, and it sagged & tore in spots whilst in the oven – I didn’t pop it in the fridge before cooking; the chill may have prevented the tear – better prep definitely would!

    It didn’t seem to make too much difference – plenty of juice left over & chicken wasn’t scorched, so if anyone else spots tears mid-cook; really, don’t worry too much.

    I couldn’t get parsley – celery leaf with dried oregano & a touch of worcestershire sauce was lovely as a substitute.

    Incidentally, I’m another supporter of the ‘flip-whilst-resting’ trick too; regardless of cooking method, it always seems to work well for whole or crowns of poultry.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for reporting back on this recipe, Katchen!

  • http://www.joeinvegas.blogspot.com/ joeinvegas

    Sorry for not commenting too often – but I have tried some of your recipes and things in your books and like them. This one sounds interesting too.

  • http://www.taastrup-smoerrebroed.dk/polsebord.html Pølsebord

    Love u blog, i know what to eat on friday :D

  • http://puddingpielane.blogspot.com/ Pudding Pie Lane

    Oh wow…amazing must try recipe!

    I was just wondering…why does the chicken go green when you crack the crust?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m afraid I don’t understand your question. Can you clarify?

      • http://puddingpielane.blogspot.com/ Pudding Pie Lane

        Oh just that the photo published of the chicken (the one with the herbs sprinkled over it) had some blue/green coloured skin. Was that photo before or after you had baked it?

        • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

          Got it! That’s a photo of the raw chicken with the parsley slipped under the skin. It’s a variety of chicken that’s yellow-skinned, and the herbs underneath are green, hence the perhaps surprising color.

  • osage

    I had to wait a day to roast it, because of a major change of plans, and it was way, way too salty throughout. Also, it was overdone after one hour at 400 F.

    Is there any way to tell if it’s getting done other than to pierce with a thermometer probe?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Can you clarify what you mean by “overdone”? Overdone, to me, means dry, and I’m surprised that would happen in the closed crust. In any event, you can certainly monitor the temperature with a thermometer that you’d plant through the crust.

  • Ursula

    Never having had the courage to roast a whole chicken (not sure why), I tried this receipe this past weekend to general dubiousness from my family. It was “going to be too salty … brave to the point of madness … who said it would even be cooked inside when I opened the dough…” My dough was fairly stiff and thicker than I would use for a tart, but I had no sagging / tearing or puncturing issues. Outcome? Delicious! Quite the juiciest roast chicken we’ve ever eaten, and the salty / herby flavor was just right. My only complaint would be that the rather anemic look wasn’t half as pretty as a regular roast chicken (not an issue since I served straight onto plates – but this is not a show-stopper chicken one would carry to the table). Also, my crust was pretty hard to break – took a good few thwacks with crusty shrapnel to get it to crack! Fun though….

  • Ursula

    Oh, I wanted to add – is it insane to consider wrapping a whole turkey in this kind of dough? If it worked, what an easy way to a juice turkey….

  • Gabrielle

    Regarding an earlier comment, perhaps the image of the uncooked, unwrapped chicken with its subcutaneous parsley blanket was mistaken for a cooked, de-crusted chicken?
    Before vs after… although everything here qualifies as an “after” picture. :)
    I imagine the herbs are less bright and the skin more opaque after cooking. Can’t wait to try it! I think it would be fun to cook with children, who could help with the dough and would certainly enjoy cracking the crust to reveal the results.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      “Subcutaneous parsley blanket” — I like that! :) And I agree this would be fun to do with kids. One caveat, though, is that the crust is very hot when the chicken comes out of the oven, so it may be best to reserve the cracking to older children.

  • Anna R.

    I made your salt-crusted chicken last Sunday and it turned out great!

    I also made your roasted potatoes plus three substantial side-dishes because I wasn’t sure the chicken would turn out alright, I feared it’d be too salty. So I had plenty of leftovers, including chicken, and it was absolutely delicious the day after, so moist and flavourful.

    I used flax seed instead of egg whites. They’re really hard and slippery! I tried grinding them with a mortar and pestle (I don’t have a spice grinder) but to no avail and the food processor didn’t work either. So my dough was seed-speckled but that didn’t seem to hurt. I had to use more water than specified in your recipe but the dough turned out fine, was easy to work with and didn’t break.

    When I first made your perfect roast potatoes the result was unimpressive, the whole thing was not worth the bother in my opinion.

    This time around I put the oiled baking sheet over a gas flame on the stove (over two gas flames actually) to brown the potatoe pieces a bit before putting them in the oven. They came out perfect!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m glad your meal turned out well! Re: the flax seeds, they are indeed difficult — if not impossible — to grind by hand or in a food processor, the best tool is an electric spice grinder (or repurposed electric coffee grinder).

  • sarah

    Made this last night and It was a success. The meat fell off the bone and the flavor was delicious. Not to mention that I felt so proud of myself for trying this new cool technique!

    But I have a question. I thought the juices were too salty for my taste. Do you have any recommendations for tempering/countering that before serving?

    Also, most of the chicken skin peeled off when I broke the crust. Would you recommend oiling the skin before applying the crust or simply just being more careful?

    Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’ve never had a problem with the juices being too salty, though sensitivity to saltiness is certainly a very personal thing, and I’m not sure what to suggest. Perhaps you could create an opening in one or two corners of the crust, so the juices would escape and therefore be less exposed to the salt in the crust? Just an idea.

      As for the skin, I’m surprised it stuck to the salt crust — I’ve never experienced that either. You can try oiling the skin beforehand, but I worry that this might encourage the raw crust to slip off.

  • Clau

    I am sorry if this is obvious. Can I cook together the chicken and the potatoes? If so, how?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      You can, and I do: I put the chicken in the oven first to give it a head start, and insert the baking sheet of potatoes about 40 minutes before the chicken is done. That requires an oven large enough to accommodate both, obviously, and it works best if you have a convection oven (i.e. a fan-assisted one in which the heat circulates well, all around, and up and down).

      • Clau

        Thanks!

  • http://murasakishikibu.blogspot.com/ Murasaki Shikibu

    “It makes zero mess in the oven, and as anyone who’s ever roasted a chicken is sorely aware, that’s a definite plus.”

    Ooooh, yes!

  • aji

    I wonder if I can do this recipe using a convection oven or a turbo broiler?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I don’t know what a turbo broiler is, but you can definitely make this in a convection oven. That’s what I have (fan-assisted, or four à chaleur tournante).

  • http://www.confituredulait.blogspot.com MilkJam

    I made this last week, turned out GREAT! Today is a new challenge.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m glad you had good success with this recipe! How was the pheasant?

  • Curzon Tussaud

    By chance, I did this about a week ago. I used dishwasher salt (after all, you aren’t going to eat the crust) and it was delicious!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Wow, dishwasher salt — I never would have thought. :)

  • Cykrhk

    Clotilde, Thank you for this recipe! I made it exactly as written using flax seeds and it worked well. (Then with my extra flax seeds went on to make crackers — also a big hit so thanks for introducing me to that method as well.) The chicken was delicious, tender and juicy. However, it didn’t brown even a little bit.

    One question that I couldn’t seem to answer even with the help of google — what salt is best to use? I used a somewhat coarse sea salt, but wondered if kosher salt (even coarser) might not be preferable?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for reporting back. I’m surprised it didn’t brown — what kind of chicken did you use? I’m wondering if the French chickens I’ve made this with react in a different manner to standard American chickens (they certainly don’t look the same at all).

      As for the salt, I’ve been using large-grain coarse sea salt, the cheapest I could buy at the supermarket.

  • http://www.michael-booth.com Michael Booth

    Great recipe.

    Could this possibly be the way to avoid dried out pheasant, I wonder? Whatever I do with pheasant – poaching, braising, roasting wrapped in bacon, only cooking hens, only cooking early season birds, pleading, begging, praying – it ALWAYS turns out dry!

    Gonna give it a go, thanks.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’ve never cooked pheasant myself, but MilkJam above posted a link to her attempt at a salt-crusted pheasant.

      I’m sure the technique would work for any bird, the only constraint is that the bigger the bird, the larger the salt crust, so it may become a bit unwieldy for a goose or a turkey.

  • cykrhk

    It was a free range, organic chicken. I noticed that in the picture, your pre-cooked chicken appeared to be much more yellow than the ones available here – it must be regional differences! I think next time I’ll sprinkle a little turmeric and paprika on it before cooking and then not worry. I removed the skin and carved before serving anyway so it wasn’t a big deal. Thanks Clotilde for the salt update and also generally for your charming blog!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I also think that the kind of salt you use may have an influence on the porosity of the crust, and therefore on the browning of the bird. And thank you for your kind words! ^_^

  • http://www.curioucity.blogspot.com Curioucity

    Oh wow, can’t wait to try this one! I’ve tried salted fish, but I’d love to try one with chicken some time.
    Thank you for the great recipe!

  • Suzan

    i just made this. it turned out delicious, but not really like the description. i made it with 5 drumsticks instead of using one chicken. i also didn’t have parsley so i chopped some garlic and mixed it with dried rosemary and thyme. i put the mixture under the skins of the drumsticks. after baking them for quite a while (over an hour total) i broke open the crust, to find that the inside of the crust was kind of like the inside of bread. also, the crust wasn’t porous.
    the drumsticks were cooked to the point where the meat falls off the bone, and tasted great. i’ll be making this again for sure! thanks for the great recipe (:

  • Sigrid

    I tried the chicken today and am sorry to say that it turned out rather dry – as every chicken I’ve ever tried.

    I really kept to your instructions. The crust had little cracks but you said that wouldn’t matter too much. At the end, i.e. when I took the chicken out of the oven there was quite some liquid at the bottom of it all, outside the crust. So maybe were there too many cracks? Or a big one on the bottom we didn’t notice?

    The chicken was a poulet fermier, with nice yellow skin. So I don’t think it was the chicken.

    I’m rather disappointed because every “100 % way to get a moist chicken” doesn’t work when I try it, not even the chicken stuck onto an open beer-can.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Sorry you weren’t happy with the way your chicken turned out, Sigrid. The fact that the crust allowed the juices to leak out was likely the source of the problem, as you mentioned. If you try it again another time, try and make sure that there are no cracks near the bottom of the crust. Good luck!

      • Sigrid

        I think next time I will transfer the dow onto the backing sheet before wrapping the bird in it. Even though we used all of our four hands the transfer after wrapping seemed like risky business.

        Although, just the fact alone that the juices stay within the crust doesn’t make the chicken juicier, does it? Shouldn’t they rather stay in the meat to begin with?

        • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

          The reasoning is that if the juices stay inside the crust, it creates a very moist environment for the chicken, as if it was permanently basted with its juices, and this prevents the meat from drying out.

          • Sigrid

            Ah, get it! So, next time I will also make a bit more dough. (Ups, sorry for the misspelling! Watched too many stock-exchange-news …?) Maybe we just had a really fat chick that didn’t fit into its coat …

            Thanks for explaining and for your patience!

          • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

            Of course, always happy to help!

  • http://frantastic-food.blogspot.com/ Franziska

    It never fails to amaze me that there are people out there who cook and who have a problem with actually touching meat.

    I am going to try out the salt crusted chicken tomorrow, I have a nice free range corn fed chicken waiting to be cooked!

  • http://www.storyofakitchen.com Lisa

    I made this chicken tonight and it was weonderful! Just some comments and questions: I used a 5.5 lb chicken and made 1 1/2 recipe of crust to cover it. It still had cracks. Did your chicken sizzle quite a bit while in the oven? I did have some juice leakage, but the bird was nonetheless moist in the end. In the future, I would make extra crust to fully cover the chicken. I also used fine salt (not coarse) and felt the areas where the crust contacted the chicken were much saltier than the rest (but still delicious). I enrobed my chicken in its salt almost 4 hours before cooking. Bravo, Clotilde! Great recipe to share with us.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Glad you had good success with this, Lisa, thanks for reporting back! I’ve never noticed that my chickens sizzled, but that may be because I’ve never had the juices leak out from the crust.

      I also suspect that using fine salt instead of coarse results in a saltier chicken overall.

      As for the quantity of salt crust, I suspect that making it larger is actually counter-productive because then it’s a bit unwieldy. Or perhaps you could divide that crust in two, make two circles, and wrap the chicken from the bottom with one, and from the top with the other?

      • http://www.storyofakitchen.com Lisa

        Ahhh, two circles, yes. That would work. That’s actually how I covered the top of the chicken I just made. I’ll have to be more diligent about sealing the cracks. Thanks!

  • Adelaide

    I intended to make two of these for a dinner party but came down with a cold, so I didn’t feel like tacklng the extra step. I did end up stuffing the chopped parsley and garlic under the skin as above, along with fresh thyme, and followed my favorite tried and true roasting technique. The flavor of the herbs was remarkably so much more interesting than the sum of its parts. So, thank you! Even if I veered off course.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I share recipes for inspiration first and foremost, and I’m glad this one helped you on the way to a delicious dinner. :)

  • http://simplykumquat.blogspot.com Maggie

    Oh my goodness this sounds wonderful. The next time I cook for my boyfriend I want to make this and not tell him what’s inside the dough. I may do a trial run with a little game hen so I know that I can do it.

  • pao

    Oh my!! I made this chicken for dinner tonight, and it was the best chicken I’ve ever made. Incredible!
    I left it in the fridge for a couple of hours and it didn’t turn out too salty but just fine. The skin did stuck to the crust, but I didn’t care much, I don’t eat the skin anyway. It was PERFECT!
    My honey is a picky eater and loved this chicken. Thanks so much!!
    Definitely a keeper

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for reporting back, Pao!

  • http://inkellyskitchen.wordpress.com/ Kelly

    I made this chicken for a family dinner and it turned out positively perfect. I found the dough was a bit tough to handle and I needed to add some extra water. I am definitely going to make this again and am eager to try the bread crust one too. For some photos of how it looked for me you can check my post.
    Thanks again for another great recipe!!!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      That’s great to hear, Kelly, thanks for the write-up and the link!

  • http://www.allchinesefood.com tracy

    This method of cooking, a lot of fun.
    Weekend at home must try.

  • Alice

    Salut,

    this is the first time I have used one of your recipes. Thought I would do a trial run before I make it for christmas eve.

    The pastry went well, the chicken cooked perfectly – but the skin did not brown. Not at all. It stayed white and soggy.

    I suspect my chickens are more like American chickens than French (I live in New Zealand).

    Has anyone worked how to ensure browned chicken skin? I am going to try less coarse salt next time in case this makes a difference.

    Merci a tout le monde :)

    Alice

  • Elisabeth

    Just wanted to say that I made the salt-crusted chicken last night for dinner. It was DELICIOUS. My 6 & 9 year old children (who, while good eaters, aren’t always wild about roast chicken) more or less ate every drop of meat off the ENTIRE thing (with my help, of course).

    Next time I will add heaps more garlic in the cavity (we’re suckers for garlic) and maybe a 1/2 lemon… I love how versatile this recipe is! Had no thyme so used fresh rosemary and sage instead.

    Thanks!!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Wonderful to hear, Elisabeth, thanks for reporting back!

  • Tavi

    This recipe looks amazing! I have a question though– does the salt crust season the chicken? Would you discourage adding salt to the cavity or using a brined chicken?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Glad this appeals to you, Tavi! The salt crust does season the chicken slightly, so I don’t typically salt it on top of that. Do report back if you try the recipe!

  • patrick

    I’m thinking of doing this for a Thanksgiving turkey because they’re notoriously dry. But given the size, I was wondering if I couldn’t A) double or even triple the crust recipe, and B) place the turkey in a roasting pan and then seal it in from the top like a pie crust? I assume this would create the same basic semi-porous-yet-sealed cooking conditions that fully wrapping the bird would…

    Thoughts or suggestions?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I have never tried it, but definitely would in the way that you suggest. Rather than doubling or tripling the crust recipe though, I would recommend you make it twice or three times (doughs in general tend to play tricks on you when scaling up or down), and patch them together on the bird by moistening the edges. Good luck — I hope you report back and let us know how it went!

  • http://www.bysonleather.co.uk John Warr

    Having just spotted your recipe for salt crusted chicken, I thought you might be interested in a recipe I found between the pages of a book I recently imported from the USA for a Chinese salt roasted chicken.

    3-4 lb (1.5 Kg) frying chicken. Remove any excess fat from around the tail and cut off any loose skin from the neck end. Tie each leg to the end of a 10 or 12-inch piece of kitchen string so that you have a loop of string between the legs. Holding onto the string, dip the chicken into a large pot of boiling water. Hold it there for 30 to 45 seconds, then remove it from the water and hang it up to dry for about an hour.
    It’s important that the skin be completely dry or the bird will not brown properly and will absorb too much salt. The drying process can be speeded up with the help of an electric fan or a portable hair dryer.
    While the chicken is drying, heat eight to 10 pounds of coarse rock salt in a large pan. You can heat the salt in an oven at 200C or on top of the stove, whichev¬er is most convenient.
    When the chicken is dry and the salt is hot, remove about half of the salt from the pan and set it aside. Be careful- it’s hot. Lay the chicken on its back on the bed of salt left in the pan and push it down into the salt. Pour the rest of the salt over the bird to cover completely. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and place in a 175° C oven and roast for one hour. Remove the bird from the salt and en¬joy. It will be a nice, golden brown, unbelievably juicy, and, amazingly, not salty to the taste.
    If you would like a chicken with an even crisper skin and a deeper, almost mahogany colour, paint the bird – after you remove it from the water – with a blend of one teaspoon of honey mixed into one cup of hot water. Brush that on the bird, then let it dry. It comes out, apparently, looking like Peking Duck.
    Don’t throw the salt away! Put it back on the stove or in the oven and cook out any moisture that it may have accumulated from the chicken. Then, let it cool, put it in a bag, and save it for another salt-roasted chicken. Johnny says the next bird will be even better, the one after that better still, etc.

    The recipe comes from “The Butcher” column in News American, probably sometime in 1978.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      What an interesting recipe, thank you for sharing! I’ve read about a similar method to cook whole fish, most typically seabass, but I’ve never tried it.

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