At 14, Chris Santos “basically cried” during his first night on the job as a dishwasher in a busy local restaurant. Still, from that very moment on, he knew that he loved the rush of working in a kitchen. Cooking there carried him all the way to culinary school—and eventually to New York City, where he’s now chef and owner of hot spots Beauty & Essex and The Stanton Social.
Watch the 5-Minute Kitchen video above to find out about his disastrous first day on the job, the simple ingredients you always need to have on hand, and why his roast chicken (full recipe below) is the perfect no-fail dish for almost any occasion.
Chris Santos’s Perfect Roast Chicken
Follow these steps to make the dish Santos references in the video.
STEP 1: Brine the Chicken
- 1 quart water
- ½ cup salt
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 quarts ice
Instructions: Combine the water, salt and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil. When the mixture boils, add the ice. Let the chicken soak in the brine for 4 hours.
STEP 2: Marinate and Cook the Chicken
- 2 chicken breasts
- ⅓ bunch parsley (leaves only)
- ⅓ bunch thyme leaves, chopped
- 2 lemons, zest only
- 2 oranges, zest only
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp chili flakes
Instructions: Whisk all ingredients together. Slather brined chicken with marinade. Marinate overnight. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Sear chicken, skin side down in piping hot sauté pan until skin is brown and crispy. Flip breasts over and put entire pan in ove at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until juices run clear.
STEP 3: Make the Mascarpone Polenta
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup Anson Mills polenta
- ¼ white onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ tsp tarragon, chiffonade
- 1 tsp chili flake
- 1 tbsp marscapone
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup asiago, grated
Instructions: Bring the chicken stock and milk to a boil. In a separate sauce pot, lightly caramelized finely minced onion and garlic in olive oil. Keep half of the liquid simmering over low heat and add the other half to the vegetables and continue to simmer over low heat. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Allow the polenta to cook for 1 hour on low heat and continue to ladle small amounts of the remaining simmering liquid. Continue stirring with wooden spoon during this process so the polenta doesn’t clump. After the polenta is cooked, mix in the tarragon, chili flake, mascarpone, heavy cream and asiago cheese. Season well with salt and fresh cracked pepper. If needed, you can adjust the consistency with any of the remaining chicken stock and milk mixture.
STEP 4: Serve
To finish, spread a layer of polenta on the bottom of the plate. Top with a breast of the roasted chicken.