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Roast Chicken-why do I have such problems?

For such a 'simple' dish, why do I have such difficulties making a roast chicken? For one, the cooking time is never what the cookbooks call for. And second, not to mention most importantly, I can never achieve a browned, crispy skin.
The only constants are as follows: a 4 1/2 - 5 lb bird and I always use a roasting pan with the bird on a V-shaped rack. Outside of that, I've tried various methods/recipes: Joy of Cooking, Mark Bittman's, Martha Stewart-you name it, I've done it.
What am I doing wrong??? Please help!

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  1. Have you brined the bird to get a crispier skin?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      why would brining give you crispier skin? It adds flavor and moisture, but crispy?

    2. Second vote re brining; be sure to rinse and then blot off as much water as possible. If it's not dry enough, it will steam. Have you tried roasting at high temp for the first 10 or 15 minutes?

      1. I usually use a 3.5-4.5 bird. Others like to brine the bird (Sam knows his stuff) but I am not in that camp.

        I use a 425 degree oven, that is fully pre-heated. I do not use any fancy racks, pans, Zuni's, nothing. I take a simple sided baking sheet. Layer a sheet of aluminum foil on it. Place the pieces skin side up. Sprinkle with whateve spices feel right that night. Place into the fully pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes I turn it from bake to convection bake for another ten minutes. Perfect every time. Crispy outside and moist inside. If you do not have convection, it may take a few more minutes to get the crsipy look.

        1. Brush it with melted butter before cooking. You can also baste it with some more melted butter during cooking if it dries up.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ngardet

            I agree. I get the best crispy skin when I brush the chicken with melted butter.

            1. re: ngardet

              I get great results by drizzling the chicken with olive oil - chicken cooking on a rack with all the oil/chicken juice gathering in the pan - the better to put on Devil Chow's kibble for his dinner (and His Missus too, just loves it). I like high heat as well - 400 deg for a while then down to 350 but Mme Zoe and I like our bird well done.

            2. To get crispy chicken skin, I never use a rack, BUT I use a cookie sheet with a very small lip, just enough to catch drippings. You need to make sure your pan isn't too deep otherwise the skin won't get crisp. I also start my chicken on it's back for half the cooking time, and turn breast side up to finish. I don't baste with butter, I rub a small amount of olive oil. Agree with posters who said, chicken needs to be bone dry in order to crisp up properly. I do admit to having a convection oven, which makes a HUGE difference in helping crisp chicken.