“Refined rusticity” rules the roost at Cambridge, MA’s Craigie on Main, where chef and owner Tony Maws dishes out delectably avant-garde cuisine from ideas he says “are shared by about 90 percent of the world’s grandmothers.” Maws’ mantra of locally sourced seasonal ingredients hatched at his first restaurant endeavor, Craigie Street Bistrot, where he fused New England flavors with what he calls “Parisian slow food”—a philosophy that became his culinary signature and propelled him into international fame.
But being a worldwide success and frequent "Today Show" guest hasn’t stopped this food artisan from fortnightly shifts as a line chef at Craigie On Main, where he also doubles as a wine director. That’s why WE turned to him to roll up his sleeves and develop a deliciously easy whole chicken recipe perfect for a holiday dinner—and one grandma would approve of. -EK
2 quarts water
1 teaspoon salt
6-inch sheet of kombu (Also known as a skelp, a type of seaweed used frequently in Japenese cooking.)
1 tablespoon star anise
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon clove
1 teaspoon chile flake
2 tablespoons schmaltz divided (Schmaltz is rendered pork, chicken or goose fat. It can be found in the grocery store refrigerator or freezer sections, or ask your butcher.)
Cut whole chicken into five pieces: legs and thighs, breasts on the bone and back. You can have your local butcher do this for you. Reserve the back for future use (save in freezer for future stock). Brine the four pieces for two hours in the refrigerator. Remove and pat dry.
Cooking the chicken:
Season the four pieces of chicken with salt and pepper. Place the legs and thighs in one sealed bag and the breasts in another. (You can use a heavy duty freezer bag for this.) Add 1 tablespoon schmaltz to each bag. Seal both bags. Cook in a water bath of 151°F until the internal temperature of the breasts reaches 148°F (approximately 1 hour and a half). Remove the breasts and raise the temperature of the water bath to 161°F. Cook the legs and thighs until they reach an internal temperature of 158°F. Heat a cast iron pan on medium. Remove the chicken from the bags and gently pat dry with paper towel. Add 1 tablespoon schmaltz to the pan and quickly sear the chicken pieces skin side down until well browned.