I’m going to have to say a roast chicken, or to be fancy-pants, a roti poulet. A recent Top Chef (file under “guilty pleasures”) featured a bunch of hardcore famous chefs asking for their “last meal.” Lidia Bastianich called for a roast chicken with potatoes. (My last meal would be a great baguette and cheese)
Others have written — Bourdain for one — that how one cooks or mis-cooks a roast chicken is the best gauge of one’s cooking capabilities. I follow the roast chicken recipe from the Balthazar cookbook, which starts with half a stick of butter mixed with parsley, thyme and rosemary and jammed up inside the breast skin. Braise until brown, then roast with root vegetables for a couple hours at 450, basting as you go.
I am not a pink chicken fan, so I go overdone, which is not the French way, but frankly, I don’t care if the instant meat thermometer says 170. 190 is more my style. I want the sucker falling off the bone. I must roast a chicken at least twice a month and everytime it comes out differently.