Black Widow Chicken – Roast Chicken with Black Truffles
This is a delicious simple dish that my brother concocted. Chicken meat is a perfect vehicle for the truffle flavour. The whole bird is infused and so every bite is truffled deliciousness. The dish is called Black Widow Chicken because of the blackness of the truffles visible through the crispy skin.
The chicken is spatchcocked to reduce cooking time. This is vital as overcooking will dry out the bird and more importantly will destroy the flavour of the truffle. The skin of the chicken must be left on. It protects the truffle and prevents it from drying out.
Although the actual cooking time is quick, the preparation is slow. You will need to start at least 24 hours in advance. Since you will be handling raw chicken, preparation should also be careful.
Spatchcock the bird. You can remove the spine with a sharp knife or a kitchen scissors. Cut down one side of the backbone and then repeat on the other side. Keep the bone for stock making. Here’s a video if you need some help.
Dry brine the chicken. Pat the chicken dry and place it in a bowl or on a plate flesh side down. Cover the top of the bird with around a cup of salt. I used sea salt but it doesn’t really matter. Dry brining serves 3 purposes.
- The salt draws out moisture from the skin. This will ensure a crispy roast bird.
- Salt penetrates the meat and the whole bird will be perfectly seasoned.
- Salt alters the structure of the protein in the meat and enables it to retain more moisture. The finished chicken will be incredibly juicy.
Leave the chicken uncovered in the fridge for 24 hours. When the time is up, carefully brush off all the salt and pat the bird dry. Step 2 might seem like a lot of hassle and it’s up to you of course if you decide to omit it. But wait – there is a marked difference in a cooked bird which has been dry brined and one which hasn’t. Also you are using truffles, so this is a special occasion meal. God is in the details.
Insert a knife between chicken meat and skin and gently separate the two. Try not to cut the skin or make holes in it. Take a teaspoon of truffle paste and insert it into the gap between the skin and meat, push it around as far as you can and massage the truffle paste into the meat. Get up into the legs, and even the wings if you can. (After this step I usually cover the chicken and put it in the fridge for a few hours. The truffle flavour then really permeates deeply into the meat.)
Pre-heat the oven to 200 C. (400 F) Put the chicken flesh side down onto a baking tray. If you want you can rub butter into the skin, however there is olive oil in the truffle paste so it’s not necessary. You can also season with freshly ground black pepper but don’t use salt!
Roast for about 45 minutes. After the first 20 minutes you should baste the bird. Do this every 10 minutes or so. The most reliable way to tell when the chicken is cooked is to use a thermometer. The internal temperature at the thickest part of the bird (the thigh) should read 74 C (165 F). Remove from the oven and allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
Serve the chicken with roast or mashed potatoes. Buttered noodles would also be good. Or rice. Take your pick, but go with accompaniments that combine well with truffles and do not overpower them. Creamy carbs and subtly flavoured comfort foods are your best bet. Avoid anything too acidic – for example tomato salads and truffles don’t work. Also spicy accompaniments are probably out -you don’t want any other flavours that will compete with the truffle.
Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!