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Urgent roast chicken advice please!

It's almost 2:00 and the guests (close friends, an easy/happy crowd) will be here for dinner in 5 hours. Having had one of those weeks, I literally just sat down to figure out the menu: roast chicken, risotto with wild mushroom and asparagus, green beans and a salad of mixed greens with apple, cranberries, goat's cheese and pepitas (someone is bringing dessert -phew - and I'm going to just pick up a few nibbles to start).

I'm off to do the grocery shopping now but all of my previous roast chicken experiences (Zuni's, Bill Granger, Martha Stewart and Marcella) have temporarily vacated my brain. Plus with no time to brine, I'm wondering - what's the simplest way of producing a succulent (or rather 2 succulent) roast chickens? Stuff with citrus?Start breast side down and flip? Any advice re: cooking temp and time (again, with 2 chickens in the oven) will be greatly appreciated and will save me the time of looking it up in a cookbook!

Sorry to be so frazzled but I'm generally way more organized than this. Ah well, let this be the worst of my problems...:)


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  1. Beer can chicken in the Weber!

    Mound about 22 briquets on each side of the kettle and light 'em. Take your chickens and rinse them and pat them dry. Put a rub on them if you want (S&P works just fine). Pop the top on a beer, pour half into another (empty) can, and shove the chickens down onto the cans, making the chickens sit upright. Using the legs to 'tripod' the birds, set them in the center of your rack, cover, and let roast for 75 minutes.

    This also frees up your oven for other stuff.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ricepad

      Absolutely, the best way to cook a 3 to 4 pound bird or birds. It works well with gas grills, also. Put on a heavy spice rub, it gets mellowed out on the grill. I do 50 minutes at 400 degrees. If you want put herbs in the can and under the skin. And you can use sodas like Doctor Pepper instead of beer.

      1. re: BlueOx

        Plug the hole in the top of the chicken with a big enough hunk of garlic to trap the vapors. I recommend herbs in the beer. Someone gets to eat the roast garlic, too.

        1. re: atheorist

          Hey atheorist, you nailed it on the garlic at the top of the beer can chicken. Of all the ways I've tried to grill garlic, your was by far the best.



          1. re: atheorist

            Very clever tip to create roasted garlic!!
            I'll definitely give that one a try...thanks for sharing it!

      2. How about he Barefoot Contessa's Perfect Roast Chicken? It is a basic, no fuss recipe with tons of flavor (you stuff cavity with lemon, garlic, and thyme). Since you already have a side dish planned, you don't need to do the veggies on the bottom, but they are great. You might just put a few potatoes on the bottom though so the chicken has something to rest on.


        3 Replies
        1. re: akp

          I concur with akp and suggest stuffing some flavoured butter (same flavours as the cavity) under the skin, especially the breast meat. You can pull up the skin and move your finger around to loosen it as far as the drumsticks. Definitely messy, but tasty.
          As for temperature, try going high (like 450-475 for the first 20 minutes, then down to 325 for the remainder of the roasting. It crisps up the skin nicely.

          1. re: akp

            I second the Barefoot Contessa's Recipe. It is awesome.

            1. re: sherry f

              I like this one too. I have eaten this chicken so much I am growing pinfeathers. It is failsafe and mmm mmm good.

          2. I just made Marcella's Lemon Chicken the other day and it is the essence of simplicity and deliciousness.


            I think I roasted for slightly longer than was called for in the recipe to get the nicely crisp skin. But that may have just been me. You cannot go wrong with this recipe.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Nyleve

              I'm a Zuni lover, but when I don't have time to brine I do the Marcella two lemon chicken. Both are delicious.

              1. re: Nyleve

                I second the Marcella Lemon chicken. I've been roasting this way for years and have NEVER gone wrong. Sometimes, I put herbs (terragon or thyme or rosemary...whatever I have growing on the deck) under the breast skin or in the cavity along with the lemon or lemons. The breast meat is always tender.

              2. Buy two kosher chickens and roast as you would normally. The koshering process essentially brines the chicken for you so you can and should omit that step. When I don't have time to brine I buy Empire Kosher birds and prefer the taste of them to any of the mass produced fryers typically available.

                1. The juiciest, simplest roast chicken I have ever had/made is Thomas Keller's favorite roast chicken recipe (I think from the Bouchon cookbook - it was on Epicurious for a limited time). I make it all the time, and I otherwise hate to eat chicken, which I find too dry and bland. It's about 1.25 hours start to finish.

                  All you do is dry the chicken very well with paper towels then salt the hell out of the outside (do not put butter or any liquid in the chicken on under the skin, which will cause it to steam and not be nearly as juicy and tender), pop in the oven for ~50 min at 425o (no need to move it during this time), baste with it's own juices and thyme, finish another 5 minutes, remove from the over and tent for 5 minutes, and voila! C'est le poulet roti parfait! (Just don't serve the skin!) Serve with butter or mustard on the side.

                  4 Replies
                    1. re: ChowFun_derek

                      Well, you just covered it with a ton of salt, enough to form a crust. I suppose you could eat it if you wanted to, but we're talking about a cup of salt here.

                      1. re: coolbean98

                        You're exaggerating, right? The epicurious Keller recipe calls for one TB of salt on the skin. That's more than I typically use for that size bird, but I can't imagine not eating the skin...


                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          I am exaggerating, but not much! I have had moister results with more salt, so I use really a LOT of salt (he says to "rain the salt", and that's what I do...literally) and don't serve the skin (which my husband never eats in any case). A Tbsp is fine, but I was happier without the skin and more juice inside the meat.

                  1. Just one additional point: don't suff and you get more even cooking from the inside.

                    1. I use the Joy of Cooking turned method and have never had less-than-stellar results. Its all about using a good quality chicken. Perfect crisp skin, perfectly cooked white and dark meat.
                      The only problem is knowing your oven well enough to know the hot and cold spots so you can adjust the timing.
                      Rub the bird all over, inside and out, with plenty of coarse salt and set it on its side in a v-rack in a roasting pan(or on a flat rack, propping it up with balled-up foil, which may work better since you probably don't have two v-racks) and brush it all over with melted butter(mixed with a little olive oil if you like. Get the oven to 400o with the bird on its side for 25 minutes for a 4lb chicken(+3 min for each add. lb), turnit onto the other side for another 25+ min, then breast-up for 15-30 more, or however long it takes to get clear juices and approx. 170 in the thickest part of the thigh.
                      That's it.

                      1. Peppermint Pate, you sound so frazzled, will you even have time to read all these great suggestions? :)

                        I agree with the section about the simple Barefoot Contessa recipe. I've done it several times by stuffing the cavity with a citrus like lemon (or even an orange cut in half) and that always ensures a moist bird because less hot air gets inside with so much stuff inside. (Along with citrus, add celery and whole garlic)

                        Also, the trick of herb butter chunks underneath the skin is great because you don't have to worry too much about basting! So where's my invite? Your dinner party sounds yummy! ;-)

                        1. Thank you all for taking the time to talk me down off my roast chicken ledge. I laughed when I saw singleguychef's note wondering whether or not I'd even have time to read the notes as I was scurrying back and forth between prepping and checking the computer. Anyway, it was interesting to see the different advice - dry salt rub and no fat/baste vs. butter/olive oil, stuff vs. don't stuff. In the end, I went with a bit of a composite recipe - I rubbed the inside and outside of each chicken (they were small, less than 3 lbs. each) with sea salt and pepper, then put one lemon (not pierced) in the cavity. I made an herb butter with thyme, parsley and basil and stuffed it under the skin. I roasted it on the rack in my roasting pan at 425 for the first 1/2 hour or so and then flipped, breast side up, to continue at 375-400. I lost track of the cooking time because, after all of my rushing, guests called to say they'd be 45 minutes late (!!) so I ended up taking the chicken out of the oven partway and then finishing it once they arrived.

                          The chicken was delicious - unbelievably moist and very flavourful. The skin could have been a bit crispier/browned - maybe I should have flipped it sooner - but otherwise, it was a huge hit. Risotto (with wild mushrooms and arugula) was particularly yummy last night. It was a great evening and nobody was the wiser for my hectic day. Thanks all!!

                          PS - I've always wanted to try the beer can chicken thing. I don't have a Weber but I do have a gas bbq. My only hesitation last night was that one of the guests is gluten-intolerant and can't have beer. I will definitely try that one time.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: peppermint pate

                            Glad to hear that there was a happy ending for you, peppermint pate! Can't really go too wrong w/ roast chicken. I agree w/ Pei; I prefer the Zuni chicken when I've had time to plan but default to Marcella's two lemon chicken when I want something easy and spur of the moment.

                            Another way to get great flavor and color is to make a paste of diced bacon, dijon mustard, and fresh thyme and stuff under skin. I esp. like to do this w/ cornish game hen. It's a little smokey and piquant and another good variation on the basic.

                            1. re: peppermint pate

                              Hey Peppermint Pate, glad to hear the dinner was a success! :)

                            2. Simple and foolproof is Barbara Kafka's high roast chicken but unless your oven is very clean - or even then - you will like get some smoke. Requires 500 degrees and an hour or a bit less depending on the size. You cook it breast up but no need to flip (although in most ovens it makes sense to turn back to front halfway through.) I clip the wing tips off and spray the whole with olive oil. You can put whatever you want on the inside and close up the cavity with the a lemon half or whole. You can cook some wedge potatoes, etc. in the same roaster although this takes more attention as you have to turn those over periodically. Always produces a perfect skin and juicy breast and just-right thighs and legs.

                              1. probably too late but from Bon Appetit a couple of years ago - actual amounts are rough:

                                2 t. paprika
                                1 T. Chopped Ginger - sometimes heavy depending on my mood
                                zest of one lemon
                                2+ T. olive oil
                                1.5 t Salt
                                fresh pepper - I go somewhat heavy on this.

                                rub this all over the chicken & roast the bird in a 425 oven for 50+ minutes til the internal temp is right - will vary depending on the size of the chicken - oh, when at all possible, use an Empire chicken!


                                1. This is late I know - But I do agree with the beer can chicken it is amazing - another one formt he cooking shows is Tyler Florence's Ultimate Roast Chicken - it is excellent -