The Underrated Roast Chicken Part Thomas Keller Loves Most

Multi-award-winning French-influenced chef and cookbook author, Thomas Keller, doesn't make many television appearances, but he's a celebrity chef nonetheless, thanks to decades of success as a restaurateur, during which Keller has accumulated seven Michelin stars. He is particularly famous for his extraordinarily exacting epicurean standards. But that doesn't mean he can't appreciate the simplest of culinary pleasures. Indeed, when it comes to roast chicken, the part Keller loves the most is the one that may actually be most underrated. 

We're talking, of course, about the part that "goes over the fence last" — i.e., the "chicken butt." Indeed, that humble moniker is precisely how Keller refers to the part of the chicken that fine French restaurants might refer to by the French name, "cul de poule," if fine French restaurants were to make a practice of including it as a menu item. However, we are hard-pressed to find evidence this is actually a thing at the present time. 

So very underrated is the chicken butt, in fact, that it didn't even come up as a possibility when we set out to rank the best cuts and parts of the chicken. But given Keller's admission to Epicurious that whenever he's roasting a chicken, he likes to pluck off the "crispy, juicy," dripping-with-fat butt to enjoy it himself, we can't help but wonder if perhaps we too might benefit from reconstructing our chicken part priorities.

Butt seriously, what makes the cul de poule so succulent?

"I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip," Thomas Keller recalled with Epicurious of life before his indoctrination into the underappreciated practice of absconding with the sizzling butt-end of a classic oven-roasted chicken before anyone else gets the chance. And apparently, the spoils of being the one who roasts the chicken include the right of first refusal to that succulent flavor bomb, which matters, because sadly, that butt end is really only big enough for one person to enjoy.

But what a lot of crispy, caramelized goodness is packed into that tiny little wedge, which, for the most part, can be found only on chickens purchased bone-in and whole. As for what happens to the butts that get lopped off of chicken parts before packaging, it appears many are purchased in bulk by those in the know, including Japanese chefs who serve "bonjiri" (meaning the tail) in their yakitori, and chefs who know how to prepare the Bangkok skewered street treat, kruang nai gai yang, which, if you're lucky, will include "chicken asses" as Thai people may refer to them.

And please don't concern yourself with the alleged health risks associated with eating the tail of the chicken. It would appear here are none that don't apply to eating chicken in general. It would even appear that the tiny little chicken butt is a good source of protein, packing six and a half grams into 84 calories.