Chef School – Lesson 4

Truss that chicken!

I’ve always been fascinated by trussing. It looks so… cheflike. So professional. So fancy. So out of my league! For years I avoided it like the plague. The idea of stuffing and rolling and knotting something seemed somehow out of my reach.

So why truss? To cook log-like foods evenly. Almost anytime you stuff and roll something, there’s a chance the ‘package’ will be unevenly shaped and won’t cook properly. It also keeps thing looking tidy–like bird wings. If you tie them to the body, then they don’t look like they may fly away from the platter. Finally, trussing keeps all the goodness in. Nothing oozes or slips out of the cavity. See? A handy trick, right?

One day I decided I would give it a try. The roll wasn’t all that attractive, but it did serve it’s purpose. It was good enough to commit to the process. I bought cooking twine and gave living space in my pantry. I didn’t avoid recipes simply because they required trussing.

Today I will share with you how *I* truss. It may not be the fancy Le Cordon Bleu way, but it looks good. Most importantly, it’s easy and it WORKS! Ready? Get your twine.

The traditional style for trussing uses one long piece of twine. I find it awkward to keep that piece of string going in the direction it should or I mean for it to. Instead, I tie individual pieces: cutting 1 long piece to tie it across the longest section and, depending on the size of the item in question, at least 3 shorter pieces to crisscross.

First things first. Twine. Remember that scene in Bridget Jones where she makes dinner for her friends and trusses something with blueish twine? Yeah. Make sure you use cooking twine. These will usually be made of cotton and colorless. There are also some elasticized ones, I’ve not used those, but when I buy a rotisserie chicken, that’s what’s on it. Anyway, avoid colored twine.

Second thing: After cutting the twine, soak it in water before using. Not a must-do, but the twine will darken as the meat cooks. If you soak it, it will not burn.

OK, let’s do it.

Step 1 – Once you’ve stuffed and rolled, take the longest piece of twine and slide it under the trussee. Bring it to the top, pull towards one of the ends and tie 2 knots. Make sure to pull it taut, but not too tight.

Step 2 – Crisscrossing. Take the shorter pieces, again, slide it under the roll until you reach the center. Now pull it to the top, and tie a double knot.

Step 3 – Crisscrossing. Take another piece of twine and slide it under to about 1-inch from the center tie. Pull up, double knot. Repeat this step for as many sections as you need. The chicken breast I rolled for this demonstration was about 7, maybe 8 inches long. I tied it twice on either side of the center cross-section.

Step 4 – Trimming. All that’s left now is to trim the excess twine. Use a very sharp knife or scissors for this. Trim pretty close to the knots, just not so close that you need worry about the knots coming undone.

Step 5 – Done. Go roast it now.

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