In December Bon Appétit Magazine ran an article on Austrian food. Since Austria and Hungary are neighbors (and were once unified in the Austro-Hungarian empire), articles on Austrian cuisine always catch my eye. One of the recipes in the article was for Salt Crusted Roast Chicken. I was enamored. It was unlike anything I had ever prepared and it seemed so simple – almost too good to be true. Almost. I knew that I had to try it.
The recipe calls for seven cups of kosher salt. I’m a salt girl, but that is a lot of salt. I thought I was using a lot of salt when I’d pour out half a cup to exfoliate or “kosher” my chicken before I cook it (what? You don’t exfoliate your chicken before cooking it? You totally should! It helps work out any impurities – like feather stubs – from the chicken’s pores. Like my dermatologist says, “Clean skin is happy skin.”) I could exfoliate fourteen chickens for the amount of salt I would be using in this recipe. I was terrified that this little experiment was going to end very badly.
The more I thought about it, though, the more confident I became. Bon Appétit has yet to steer me in the wrong direction. I made a quick stop at the store to make sure that I had all of my ingredients. Two large boxes of kosher salt? Check. A dozen eggs? Herbs? Check and check.
The chicken could not have been easier to prepare and it was a huge hit with the entire family. The best part (for me anyway) was breaking the crust after it was finished roasting. It becomes quite hard and you have to give it a good whack with the back of a sturdy wooden spoon. My children thought I was Superman… or Superwoman, maybe… I certainly felt like Supermom. The flaver was excelleny. It isn’t overly salty (like I had feared) and the flavor of the herbs is just right. This is definitely going into my dinner arsenal.
Salt Crusted Roast Chicken
Adapted from Bon Appétit – December 2011
- 1 small (3-4 pound) chicken
- 3 large sprigs Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 large sprig rosemary
- 7 cups kosher salt (you will need more than one box of Morton’s kosher salt), plus more for washing.
- 12 large egg whites, or 1 ½ cups egg whites
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line a 15×11 inch roasting pan with aluminum foil.
- Wash and “kosher” your chicken.**
- Stuff the chicken with the herbs and tie the legs together loosely. Tuck the wing tips under the chicken.
- Place salt and egg whites in a large bowl and use your hands to blend well for about four minutes.
- Pack 1/3 of the salt mixture into the bottom of the pan and place the chicken on top, breast side up.
- Pack the remaining salt onto the chicken making sure to completely enclose it.
- Roast the chicken at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 70 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Allow chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Crack the salt with the handle of a sturdy wooden spoon and remove the salt and the skin from the chicken.
- Carve the chicken and serve.
**To “kosher” your chicken, use about ½ cup of kosher salt to exfoliate the chicken, removing any impurities.