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Horrible Roasted Chicken Experience

d
DKS1 Dec 12, 2007 08:51 AM

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!

  1. w
    wawajb Dec 12, 2007 08:54 AM

    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
      d
      DKS1 Dec 12, 2007 09:06 AM

      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
        s
        soupkitten Dec 12, 2007 09:17 AM

        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
          k
          Kagey Dec 14, 2007 03:49 AM

          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
          w
          wawajb Dec 12, 2007 09:57 AM

          http://www.fsis.usda.gov/food_safety_...

          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. Gio Dec 12, 2007 09:14 AM

        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. speyerer Dec 12, 2007 10:04 AM

          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. d
            DKS1 Dec 12, 2007 10:53 AM

            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
              Gio Dec 12, 2007 11:02 AM

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

              1. re: DKS1
                pikawicca Dec 12, 2007 01:37 PM

                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
                  k
                  Kagey Dec 14, 2007 03:54 AM

                  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
                    MMRuth Dec 14, 2007 04:32 AM

                    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 Dec 12, 2007 11:11 AM

                  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
                    s
                    smartie Dec 12, 2007 11:23 AM

                    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
                      chef chicklet Dec 12, 2007 12:04 PM

                      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
                        o
                        ozhead Dec 13, 2007 08:55 AM

                        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
                          jfood Dec 13, 2007 09:22 AM

                          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
                            o
                            ozhead Dec 13, 2007 10:02 AM

                            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
                              jfood Dec 13, 2007 10:34 AM

                              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
                                d
                                Diane in Bexley Dec 13, 2007 11:00 AM

                                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
                                  jfood Dec 13, 2007 11:17 AM

                                  DB,

                                  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
                                  o
                                  ozhead Dec 13, 2007 01:42 PM

                                  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
                                    Marge Dec 13, 2007 01:49 PM

                                    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
                                      jfood Dec 13, 2007 01:54 PM

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

                                      1. re: jfood
                                        o
                                        ozhead Dec 13, 2007 03:15 PM

                                        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
                                      k
                                      Kagey Dec 14, 2007 04:00 AM

                                      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
                              d
                              DKS1 Dec 13, 2007 06:24 AM

                              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
                                chef chicklet Dec 15, 2007 09:18 AM

                                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!

                              2. m
                                mpalmer6c Dec 12, 2007 11:44 AM

                                If everything was exactly the same, the only variables I can think of are a malfunctioning thermometer or simply a bad bird. (as, e.g., a stewing hen).

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: mpalmer6c
                                  chef chicklet Dec 12, 2007 01:00 PM

                                  I've cooked a few of those, they are gross. Stringy tough meat.

                                  1. re: chef chicklet
                                    d
                                    DKS1 Dec 12, 2007 01:19 PM

                                    A stewing hen?! Is it true that they try to pass off anything other than real roasting chickens as roasters?! I'm shocked!!

                                    I would like to think that this MUST be what happened. It just doesn't make sense any other way! It was *just* as Chef Chicklet described: stringy and tough. Just yuck.

                                    1. re: DKS1
                                      chef chicklet Dec 12, 2007 04:25 PM

                                      I can't remember the situation or where I purchased the few times it has happened. I know that I've bought chicken on sale before or at a certain grocery line, and its very possible that it was marked properly and I just didn't pay any attention, that of course then would make it my fault. I know the bird though, the meat strings, has a weird texture, and it is rubbery. I had thought about the hormones that are used in the feed might cause that?
                                      Could happen.

                                      1. re: chef chicklet
                                        w
                                        wawajb Dec 13, 2007 04:35 AM

                                        I thought the difference between a 'stewing' bird and a 'roaster' was just age and activity level? My understanding is that stewing hens are just retired egg layers. Whereas roasters/fryers are young birds.

                                        1. re: wawajb
                                          pikawicca Dec 13, 2007 04:48 AM

                                          You're correct.

                                          1. re: pikawicca
                                            s
                                            smartie Dec 13, 2007 04:59 AM

                                            I thought a boiler was a female and a roaster a male bird.

                                            1. re: smartie
                                              d
                                              dibob817 Dec 13, 2007 05:06 AM

                                              no - they can be either / or

                                              1. re: smartie
                                                pikawicca Dec 13, 2007 11:40 AM

                                                Usually large male chickens (castrated, I believe) are sold as "capons," and are quite tasty.

                                                1. re: pikawicca
                                                  d
                                                  Diane in Bexley Dec 14, 2007 05:16 AM

                                                  Pik, yes, we love capons as well. The price is a little prohibitive to make it an every week meal and we only get them frozen here in Ohio. My question is, why does it taste better than a large roasting chicken? My husband's theory is that because it costs so much more(Festinger's Law of Cognitive Dissonance!).

                                    2. re: mpalmer6c
                                      Morganna Dec 13, 2007 06:22 AM

                                      Malfunctioning oven is another possibility. Maybe something happened that kept it from getting as hot as before. Did the vegetables fail to cook through as well?

                                    3. Tom P Dec 12, 2007 12:06 PM

                                      I agree with jfood, we all have bad chickens come out of the oven every once in a while. I remain a firm believer of 500 degrees. Cook your bird 10 minutes per pound in a 500 degree oven, with ten minutes to sit when it comes out. It works like a charm most every time for me. Given that time for 500, it does seem 45 minutes on 425 is too short.

                                      1. TSQ75 Dec 12, 2007 12:43 PM

                                        this weekend I made the CI french chicken in a pot recipe and it turned out inedible! both meat and skin like pure rubber! followed the recipe to a T! so disappointing...roast chicken is one of my favorite foods...*sigh*

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: TSQ75
                                          Homero Dec 12, 2007 01:43 PM

                                          I made the same recipe, this past weekend, and it turned out very well. Although I ended up using a larger dutch oven, because I didnt have a smaller one, and I went solely by temp, not by time. Oh, and I added a bunch of mushrooms in there to take up some of that extra space.

                                        2. c
                                          classylady Dec 12, 2007 02:59 PM

                                          I bought a seasoned chicken some time ago, defrosted for 2 days and let it stand today because there was still ice around the body. After I set the oven at 325 degrees, place the root vegetables over a sheet of aluminum foil, under the rack and set the chicken on the rack. I oiled and roasted the chicken for 2 hours. The thermometer was place below the thigh and registered about 170 degrees. The chicken was well cooked and ready to eat.

                                          1. f
                                            fauchon Dec 13, 2007 05:43 AM

                                            Oven temp is crucial. Is it possible that your oven thermometer is inaccurate or the oven itself is not holding a steady temp? You can check oven temp easily with an inexpensive oven thermometer....

                                            1. d
                                              Diane in Bexley Dec 13, 2007 07:30 AM

                                              Very important to preheat the oven - did you do that? I am a big believer in starting the chicken/fowl on its back and turning onto breast halfway through cooking. First, I like white meat and I want it to be succulent, not overdone. Second, by starting on back, where most of fat is, you draw the fat out and ensure dark meat will be cooked through. Does involve manipulating the bird, which some people don't like to do, but eliminates covering breast with foil, which is steaming to me. Also have convection oven and can get the job done in 45-60 min for 4-5 lb. bird.

                                              In th greater scheme of things, better to undercook a fowl, as jfood points out, you can always throw in M/W for a couple minutes than to overcook (better have lots of gravy). Does sound like you had a bad bird.

                                              1. coney with everything Dec 13, 2007 09:03 AM

                                                You might just have gotten a bad bird--nature is a crapshoot.

                                                I'd also make sure, as others have suggested, that you make sure you get a roaster or fryer. I'd also say that if you can't find a local free range source, to at least buy Maverick Ranch or Bell and Evans. I know they're pricey but they're consistently good.

                                                1. MrsCheese Dec 13, 2007 05:49 PM

                                                  I had a very similar experience not too long ago and it turned out that the igniter on my oven was in the process of breaking (I only realized this was the problem a week later once it actually stopped functioning). You may want to get an oven thermometer just to make sure your oven is working properly.

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