A few months back I came across a video on Facebook of Ina Garten interviewing a chef of The Standard Grill in NYC. In the video the chef was showing Ina how to make one of the Grill’s classic dishes, the Million Dollar Chicken. The name in and of itself had me intrigued, and when you add Ina into the mix, I was completely transfixed. On a side note, the Standard Grill is a great place to eat -- last time I was there I was super preggo and had a craving for a loaded NYC Bagel (lox, capers, red onion, cream cheese, etc etc) and they gave me a great platter of just that for brunch!
Before I get into the Million Dollar Chicken, let’s all just take a moment and revel in the wonder that is Ms. Ina Garten. I could watch her show on Food Network for hours on end. I love her bougie lifestyle and the way she calls for ingredients like “GOOD” vanilla (not that sh*t us commoners buy in your local store). And can we just swoon a little over her and her husband, Jeffery? I mean, they have the cutest repartee, which just adds to the overall storybook life they live around the world (The Hamptons, NYC, Paris….). I am also totally jelly of Ina’s gaggle of awesomely fabulous male gay friends who do everything from Interior Design to Floral arrangements to setting her table for her…. Ina is my bougie spirit animal and I am not afraid to admit it.
But I digress….
Back to the food. So this Million Dollar Chicken is basically a whole roasted chicken which is perched on top of some day-old Sourdough, stuffed with lemon, thyme, garlic and bay leaf and then roasted until it’s almmmmooosssttt cooked through. At this point it is then slathered in a crème fraiche, lemon, shallot and Aleppo pepper mixture and cooked until it’s crispy and caramelized to perfection. The chicken is then broken down into quarters and served with the sourdough it was roasted on top of and garnished with some lemon wedges.
The video honestly had me at the roasting the chicken on the bread part, but I got really intrigued with the crème fraiche slathering….so with this desire to see how this chicky comes out I decided to cook up the Million Dollar Chicken.
Before I review and critique the recipe there were a few things I did differently. First off, the Aleppo pepper: It’s usually kind of a hard spice to find and to be honest, I never use it so instead of the 1 teaspoon of Aleppo, I used ¾ tsp of Sweet Paprika, ¼ tsp Cayenne and a few pinches of Maldon salt. This combo can be a good (read: lazy) substitution for Aleppo Pepper.
Second, I don’t really love sourdough bread (so shoot me), so I used a country Italian Pane which worked just as well.
And third, the original recipe doesn’t really tell you whether to put the lemon in the chicken whole or cut in half so I just cut mine in half and hoped for the best.....the recipe also says to let the bird rest for 10 minutes before you cut it up, and I am more of a 30 minutes kinda girl....but again, that's just me......
Ok, now that we got those semantics out of the way, time for the verdict…..
I preface this review with the fact that the recipe posted below is the recipe from The Standard Grill – it by no means is my recipe….and I have followed the recipe verbatim…with that being said, I had a few issues with this recipe and a few triumphs….
1. Having never made this before, the Crème Fraiche glaze calls for the juice of 1 lemon. Only one problem, this makes the glaze WAY too liquid. The second you go to baste the chicken with the glaze, it literally drips off the chicken and doesn’t slather at all. The chicken is like Teflon for glaze. MAJOR FAIL. Unfortunately the recipe doesn’t give a specific quantity of lemon juice (ie. 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice), it just says 1 lemon, but lemons vary in size and therefore vary in the amount of liquid they produce….
2. I am not sure whether the aforementioned issue could be resolved by adding less lemon juice, or by letting the chicken cool down completely before applying the glaze….either way, FAIL. In the video of Ina with the chef of The Standard Grill, his glaze is more the consistency of a paste, and less of a basting liquid (which mine looked like)….we will have to delve deeper into this issue in future tries….
3. Because of the watery quality of the glaze, the bread underneath the chicken got completely drenched and was not crisp like the recipe promised. Again, FAIL (as this was the part I was most excited about)….but……
4. ….As for the taste…..the chicken itself tasted just like any plain roasted chicken that I have made in the past….BUT the overly soaked bread and the jus that came off the chicken was DELICIOUS. This deliciousness was clearly mostly in part because of the crème fraiche mixture had dripped off the chicken and onto the bread, giving it a really yummy flavor. My husband and I wound up taking the super soggy bread and eating it with the chicken while simultaneously dipping the chicken/bread in more of the jus from the pan – THAT was the real winner.
5. The lemon that was halved and cooked inside the chicken was AMAZING to juice on the finished chicken.
6. One last mention….the glaze calls for 1 cup of Crème Fraiche – this amount would literally be enough to glaze 4 chickens…Not sure in what world you’d need an entire cup of Crème Fraiche for a 3.5 pound chicken, but maybe that’s just me….
If I were to try and re-do this recipe I would actually omit the lemon from the glaze and just add lemon to the chicken after it’s fully cooked, just to see how that would come out. If any one has made this recipe before, and had success with it, I would love to hear your trick….email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Below shows the photos of the chicken almost fully roasted, then basted, and then the final product:
Million Dollar Chicken
2 Hour 30 Minutes
2 Hour 40 Minutes
- 4 lbs Whole Chicken (innards removed)
- Salt and Pepper
- Olive Oil
- 4 Garlic Cloves (smashed)
- 8 Sprigs Thyme
- 2 Slices Sourdough Bread (sliced 3/4" thick)
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Maldon Salt (to finish)
- 1 Cup Creme Fraiche
- 1 Lemon (zested and juiced)
- 1 Tablespoon Shallot (minced)
- 1 Teaspoon Aleppo Pepper
- The day before you plan to cook the chicken, season it well inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic, 1 of the lemons, the bay leaf and thyme. Refrigerate. (The bird can be trussed with butcher twine if you are so inclined, but it is not necessary.)
- On the day/night you plan to cook the bird, take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to roast it. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- In a pan large enough to accommodate the chicken (I used a cast iron), oil the pan lightly with olive oil, place the pieces of sourdough in the center of the pan and then put the chicken on top of the bread. Drizzle the bird with olive oil. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 40-50 minutes, basting it every 12 to 15 minutes with the fat and drippings that render from the bird.
- While the chicken roasts, assemble the glaze by combining the Creme Fraiche, 1 lemon zested/juiced, shallots and allepo pepper and whisking them together. When the chicken is almost done (the juices are running pink and/or the legs are beginning to wiggle a bit when you give them a shake), take a pastry brush and slather on a bit of the creme fraiche glaze. The glaze will begin to caramelize. Brush on another layer and let this last glazing caramelize.
- At this point the chicken should be cooked through and nicely golden brown. The sourdough underneath the chicken will be nicely browned and crisped on the side in contact with the pan, and moist and juicy on the side in contact with the chicken. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting it into serving pieces. Cut the sourdough into 2 to 4 pieces and serve with the chicken. Garnish with lemon wedges and sprinkle it with Maldon salt.