Sake Pairing: Roasted Herb-Buttered Chicken

by Benjamin Knopp

A roasted chicken is incredibly easy to make and pairs beautifully with sake. To offset the saltiness of this dish we recommend a dry sake, for example the Tokubetsu Junmai from Echigo Sekkobai, but everything in our Light & Dry category should fit well.

Ingredients

  • A whole chicken, cleaned
  • Salt
  • Root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, onions, burdock, garlic or whatever you like
  • Herbs: sage, rosemary, parsley or whatever you prefer
  • Butter
  • Olive oil

Instructions

The key for roasting chicken is to brine the chicken beforehand. To brine a chicken just immerse it in salt water for several hours, or preferably overnight in the fridge. Our preferred ratio is 30g of salt per liter of water.

Roasted Chicken with Sake

We like to pair a chicken with roasted potatoes and root vegetables. Great choices are hard boiling potatoes (in Japan look for May Queen, メークィン, or usually oval shaped potatoes as the round ones are best for mashing), carrots, onions, turnips and burdock, but feel free to add anything else you’d like to add.

First make the herb butter. Either have the butter at room temperature so it’s soft or microwave it until it’s melted and then add herbs of your choice. We like sage, parsley and rosemary as well as crushed garlic. Do not add salt because the chicken will already be salty enough.

Then cut up the vegetables in your preferred size and throw them in a bowl with salt and pepper, olive oil and, if you’d like, some rosemary and toss them well. Adding some unpeeled garlic cloves is also great because they will be perfectly soft when the vegetables are done and can be spread on either the chicken or veggies without being burned.

When the chicken is brined, the vegetables are cut and tossed and the herb butter is made, take the chicken out of the brine and pat it dry with a paper towel. Use a spoon or your hand to get underneath the skin and gently lift the skin from the meat. Rub the herb butter everywhere underneath the skin and tie the chicken with a string so the legs don’t poke up in the air when you roast it (tying it is not necessary but will make it look prettier). There’s no need to salt the chicken because it’s already salty from the brine.

Ideally we like to roast the chicken over the vegetables so that when the fat melts it drips down and covers them. To do this, put the vegetables on a tray in the lowest rack of your oven and the chicken on a wire rack just above.

Roast at 180 °C for 60 to 90 minutes or until the internal temperature is 74 degrees celsius (stick a thermostat between the legs and the body, which is the last area to cook). Don't worry too much about overcooking, the brine will ensure that the meat stays moist. Also don’t forget to stir the vegetables and brush the chicken with it’s own fat a few times while roasting.