As Harold McGee explains in “On Food and Cooking,” starches are made of long chains of glucose sugar molecules that are linked to each other. Starches are useful in thickening because of the way they behave in the presence of hot water. He summarizes the process in “Keys to Good Cooking”: “When heated in a liquid, starch granules soak up water, swell, and release long, tangly starch molecules, all factors that cause the liquid to thicken.”

McGee says that cooking for an extended period, bringing the mixture to a boil or vigorous stirring will eventually thin out the mixture,

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New York Times food editor Sam Sifton starts his cookbook “See You on Sunday” with an entire chapter on chicken. He writes that “a roast chicken dinner is a complete explanation of why we cook.” And he has data to back that claim up: “Chicken” tends to be the most-searched term on The New York Times website. It’s also one of the easiest meals you can cook in the comfort of your own home, no matter your skill level.

Undoubtedly, that’s the reason why roast chicken has also been a popular topic of discussion here at Salon Food since our

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