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Dec 12, 2007 08:51 AM

Horrible Roasted Chicken Experience

Fellow 'hounds, I need your help!

About two months ago, I made my first Roasted Chicken - ever. A thread on this topic was running rampant on this board and I felt inspired. It turned out AMAZINGLY well - one of the best-tasting chickens I've ever eaten, if I do say so myself.

Here's what I did for my 4 lb. roaster: rinsed inside and out, patted dry thoroughly, sprinkled liberally w/ S&P, stuffed the cavity with lemon wedges, cloves of garlic, quartered onion, and rosemary. Rubbed butter underneath breast skin, poured melted butter on top of skin and dusted with rosemary sprigs. Put the whole thing on top of a bed of onions, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Put in the oven at 425 degrees and roasted approx. 45 minutes. Let rest 10. Carved. Delicious.

I felt even more inspired last week to do this again, given the result of attempt #1. I did the EXACT same things this time and not only was it not EVER appearing to be done, but once it finally was (and cutting into it later proved that indeed it wasn't), it was HORRIBLE. I mean *almost* inedible. The ONLY thing I can think that happened was either it was a *bit* lopsided on top of the pile of veggies, or the thermometer that was placed inside the chicken by the butcher threw me off (this was not on my first chicken - though purchased from the same store - and I went strictly off of oven temp, roasting time (acc. to poundage), and the fact that the juices ran clear when cut into. Oh, and on this attempt (okay, so not everything was the exact same), I experimented with starting the oven temp at 450 for 20 minutes and then turned it down to 425 for the rest of the time. Was this the problem???

So someone, please, tell me what I did wrong! I can't think of what I might have done/not done to turn this into a disaster! Thank you!

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  1. What was it that made it inedible? dry? Raw? Or just tasted bad?

    It sounds like it may have been partially frozen...with the super long cooking time and still being undone. I highly recommend getting a thermometer to measure the internal temp of your chicken accurately. That way you can now for sure whether it's done or not without having to cut into it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: wawajb

      I DO have a thermometer! I just haven't figured out how (where) to use it with the chicken! I tried it three times (in the thigh - or what I thought was the thigh - as well as the middle of the breast), but it was only registering up to 130 or so (in teh thight)... After an hour, I thought there's not way it'd still be that low! Maybe it had been frozen (although I don't think so...)? So can you describe where *exactly* I should be sticking the thermometer???!!! THANK YOU!!

      1. re: DKS1

        stick it into the thickest part of the thigh and make sure it doesn't touch the bone. another good way to tell your chicken is done (makes you look like a pretty spiffy cook) is to "shake hands" with it. grab the end of the drumstick and try to move it around. if it's stiff, your bird is not done. when the drumstick moves easily around, the chicken is done!

        you do want to make sure that your chicken is completely thawed before you start cooking, this is critically important.

        1. re: soupkitten

          The shake hands method works for me too. I have no idea where the thickest part of the thigh is!

          I also always take my chicken out of the fridge about an hour before cooking, to give it a chance to get up closer to room temp before cooking.

        2. re: DKS1

          Check out the link, but keep in mind that the USDA will ALWAYS err on the side of caution (and dry meat) when it comes to cooking temps.

          Also see picture for actual placement...I stole this from the web, but it's pretty close (and a lovely chicken).

      2. Many people roast chicken at a very high temp. for a short time then turn down the temp to continue roasting. I have never done this and I've been roasting poultry for a v. long time, and if I may say so, I've never had a horrible chicken experience. Here we roast a 3 -4 lb. chicken at a steady 375 for about 1 1/2 hours. The result is crispy skin, juicy meat, no pinkness near the bone. I do not rub butter under the skin, and only put my own seasoning blend in the cavity along with a bulb of garlic and sometimes 1 lemon or lime quartered.

        I'm thinking that you just didn't keep it in the oven long enough, and the temp was too high. If it was still frozen you would have noticed that when you prepared it for cooking- rinsing, drying, stuffing. Loppsideness would have nothing to do with how the chicken cooked. I often do exactly what you did. These days I read more and more recipes stating that meat should sit out to bring it up to room temp before setting it in the oven. Sometimes I've done that, but only because I've been preparing the vegetables for roasting, but not with that specific purpose in mind.

        Perhaps an oven thermometer is in your future???

        1. Check your meat thermometer by sticking it in boiling water to see if it is accurate.
          For practical use, the boiling point of water is 100 °C (212 °F) at standard pressure.

          1. Thank you all so much for your replies and wisdom...

            I will definitely try it again, though I must say I'm quite apprehensive! Also, I didn't think the chicken was frozen to begin with! At least it shouldn't have been... Hmmm.

            Is it possible it was just a bad chicken? When I say it was horrible, I should have described it more. It was just tough and bland and bleh. Not INedible, but certainly not something I would have CHOSEN to eat!

            Thanks again!

            4 Replies
            1. re: DKS1

              Well - now I'm wondering if you had a fowl instead of a roaster or fryer.

              1. re: DKS1

                See if you can find a free-range organic bird from a local producer. Supermarket birds offer only a mere suggestion of what a real chicken tastes like.

                1. re: DKS1

                  You have a point there. Some chickens are just better than others. You'll hopefully just find a brand/type/supplier you like. It's funny, here in England, we can buy unbelievably expensive, free range, organic, fed-only-on-gold-flakes-and-champagne chickens, but so far my favorite ones have been the corn-fed, RSPCA-monitored chickens that are cheaper and available in some supermarkets.

                  1. re: Kagey

                    One the less than great chickens I've made recently - using the JC MATF recipe - looked absolutely beautiful, but tasted quite tough, and it was organic, from the farmer's marekt etc.

                2. Jfood agrees that the 425 for 40-45 minutes for a 4# bird works well and he has been following this for many years. What is a little confusing is the "juices ran clear versus 130 degrees". These are somewhat at odds, but givien your self description as new to this you might think about the definition of clear. It means very light in color like chicke broth, not clear versus cloudy. So red and clear is running clear but it is not a fully cooked bird. Jfood agrees with testing your thermometer. He has thrown out several this year alone and finally purchased a digital instant read.

                  Jfood actually checks in 2 places when he roasts and here is another thought. If you opened the oven severla time to take a peak, the oven temperature decreases quickly and significantly. When jfood takes the temperature. he opens the door, inserts the thermometer and quickly closes the door. He then counts t 20 , opens the door, reads, and reinserts and closes the door and does same 20 second thing. As other have stated, he tests in the thickest part of the breast and the thigh meat (avoid the bone as stated above). The shake the bird's leg is also a good option.

                  But the best advice is do not give up. Everyone has undercooked a chicken. That's why there are microwaves, to correct the current meal and learn from it. After 30 years of cooking chickens jfood trusted a thermometer a month ago and it was broken. Pretty lousiy cutting into a bird with red juice. But a quick zap in the MV and dinner was served.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: jfood

                    wow 45 mins for a chicken????? I always cook for an hour and a half to 2 hours minimum at 350. I have never used a thermometer, I always wiggle a chicken leg and if it moves well in the socket it is done. 20 mins a LB plus 20 minutes?

                    1. re: smartie

                      Well it does depend on the weight of the bird... I usually can get it done in 1 hour and few mins over, and that is for a 4 1/2 to 5lb bird. It really depends just how much meat is on the bird so that is a major issue with how long to cook and giving you a set cooking time so these are approximate... I am also using a convection oven.
                      I don't trust the method of the looking at the juices to see if they run clear. When I was learning to cook, that just didn't work well for me and until l I purchased a simple probe thermometer priced about $15, I was guessing.

                      To test temperature, I go to the highest point at the inner thigh/leg connection carefully and slowly insert the probe and watch the temp rise.If you hit something hard, its bone, and you don't want to be there, it will not give a true reading, it will be hotter because bone gets hot.

                      Pretty soon you will be good at this, and you'll know when its ready. I think it smells ready, you know?? The fat is dripping and I can sometimes hear that in the oven alot is going on when its ready.
                      But always take the temperature. I cook at a steady as she goes at 350 (convection). Test the bird at 40 minutes into cooking and then right about as you come up to an hour./When probed, watch for 165 degrees.
                      that last bit of time the bird comes to temperature pretty fast. We enjoy roast chicken often and with many variations to seasonings and marinades. Good Luck!

                      1. re: smartie

                        For a 3-1/2 to 4-pound chicken: preheat the oven to 450, with the roasting pan (no rack) in the oven. Dry the chicken thoroughly, inside and out -- this is crucial for crispy skin. Tuck the wings under. Salt, pepper, and dried thyme outside, salt inside. Take the pan out of the oven; put a teaspoon of oil in it and swish the oil around; put the chicken in the pan (no rack) and roast for 45 minutes. Take it out of the pan and let it sit for 15 minutes. Cut it and serve it.

                        This makes a perfectly cooked, crispy-skinned, juicy and delicious chicken. Since I found this method, I will never use any other to roast a chicken. the only downside is that it generates a lot (and by a lot I mean A LOT) of smoke. Luckily for me, I have an industrial-strength Thermador exhaust system in my kitchen; otherwise I would have to leave doors and windows open and turn off, disconnect, or cover the smoke alarm.

                        1. re: ozhead


                          very similar to jfood's method and in an effort to reduce the smoke he reduced the temp of the oven to 425. this seems to be a break point for smoke. at 450 there was a lot and at 425 it was significantly less. plus the most important part was that the skin was still crispy-crispy and the meat moist.

                          1. re: jfood

                            jfood is a smart fellow.

                            I forgot to add, in my post above, that the 15 minutes while the chicken is resting (on a plate) is the time to make gravy. I put the roasting pan on a burner, add a cup of chicken stock -- I use the boxed one from Trader Joe, since I have neither the time nor the inclination to make my own -- and deglaze the pan over high heat; this takes a couple of minutes max. I pour it off through a small strainer into a fat-separating cup, then pour the defatted stock into another cup. I put 2 tbsp of flour and 2 tbsp of the fat from the chicken into a small saucepan, augmenting the fat with canola oil if there's not quite enough. I whisk it over medium heat until the flour is cooked, then dump in the cup of stock, all at once, whisking like crazy. Once it boils I turn the heat down and use a rubber spatula for the rest of the stirring. I add salt, pepper, and a little more thyme, and maybe a half-teaspoon of sugar; if I feel expansive, I stir in a small dollop of sour cream. This makes a very fast, very classic chicken gravy, and terrific with roast chicken -- especially if you serve it with mashed potatoes, as Ms. Dr. Oz prefers

                            1. re: ozhead

                              OZ, you and jfood are twin sons of different mothers. jfood does exactly that while his chicken rests. If you want an unbelieveable kick-up to the gravy try this:

                              - the little bag that comes with the chicken contains tremendous flavor. Jfood hacks that up and sautees with a little shallot while the bird is cooking. Then he takes the pieces out and throws away.
                              - A littlle different process after the bird is out. He sprinkles some flour in the roasting pan over heat and makes a light roux. Then spoons out and places in the pan with the giblet remnants.
                              - Then he adds the boxed chicken stock to male the gravy in the giblet pan. The giblets when they sauteed left mucho flavor with the shallots.

                              Oh man and then place on the mashed potatoes as well.

                              1. re: jfood

                                If it is kicked up mashed potatoes you are after, slice a couple whole garlic in half, peel some shallots then rub with a tsp or so of EVOO, stick in with chicken while roasting. While chicken is resting, squeeze roasted garlic & shallot puree into mashed potatoes, add a little buttermilk and you will think you have died and gone to heaven. Not that fattening, if you dont use too much EVOO and buttermilk is low fat.

                                1. re: Diane in Bexley


                                  Think jfood and you have discussed before. When Roasting a chicken jfood likes the oven to multi task and usually through a foil wrapped head of garlic in the oven to roast. You never know when this may come in handy.

                                  Into the fridge and is always available for next to no cost.

                                2. re: jfood

                                  jfood, the problem with the "use-the-giblets-for-the-gravy" in the Oz house is twofold: (1) Molly the dog stands right next to me while I am prepping the chicken, looking up at me with those big brown eyes, and hynotizes me into giving her the heart and the gizzard; (2) while hypnotized, I saute the liver and eat it myself. Thus a severe giblet shortage when it comes to gravy time.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    I don't want to get jfood in trouble, but...he throws the stuff in the little bag out after it's cooked?? marge puts that stuff on my kibble...just saying....
                                    your doggie chowhound friend

                                    1. re: Marge

                                      the dog is a great negotiator. Years ago she talked jfood into some finished product versus Work In Progress.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        Oz's advice: when the dog tries that ploy, point to a spot behind her, yell "Look over there!", and toss the Work In Progress into her bowl. Then, when she turns back around, give her a blank look. Dogs are suckers for that trick.

                                    2. re: jfood

                                      Can I be the third twin? While my chicken rests, I do the same as Jfood with the flour in the roasting pan, but then instead of just chicken stock, I sometimes use white wine. Pour all the scraped stuff into one of those jugs that has a spout that lets you pour off the gravy without the fat. Those things work great.

                            2. re: jfood

                              jfood, thanks for the precise instructions... I wanted to clarify that I do indeed have an accurate understanding of what "clear" juices means. I think the thermometer temp was just because it wasn't in the right place (or wasn't working - I have yet to test it). But yes, given all of the other signs, very confusing indeed! Thank you for your encouragement!!

                              1. re: jfood

                                Your're going to think this is absurd but I swear I'm telling the truth!
                                I made bbq for around 40 people, hind quarters. To step up the game I microwaved the chicken for about 8 mins each side, covered with wax paper. A little garlic powder, salt and pepper. Then we slathered it with bbq sauce and cook as normal on a gas grill.
                                NO raw chicken, it was moist and tasty.
                                I received SO many compliments it was crazy. Everyone wanted the recipe. I have done this for years. Why? Because I can't tell you how many times I've seen raw BBQ chicken (that is black on the outside, and bloody once you take a bite, and I just about lose it. I can't think of anything worse than serving someone RAW chicken, ok, maybe raw turkey.

                                I have even done this with fried chicken, and yes It works. Just let it cool down before applying the batter.

                                The microwave (which is nothing more than a warming tool to me) in this case works better than anything. Using this method I am confident that there is never raw chicken so I don't worry about contaminating or making my guests sick. The chicken is moist and tasty. No one knows the difference.
                                Kudos! I agree, if you undercook a roasted chicken throw some wax paper over it and zap it in the microwave, since it cooks from the inside out, it's perfect.

                                Great suggestion jfood!