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Dec 16, 2007 09:54 AM

Has anyone tried Cooks Illustrated chicken & potatoes?

I'm referring to the recipe where you put sliced potatoes in the bottom of your foil-lined broiler pan, put the top rack on, and do a butterflied chicken on the rack. Has anyone tried this? Jfood, I think I remember you talking about it with regards to using the non-stick Reynolds foil product.

Anyway, I think this recipe sounds interesting and am looking for any experiences with it, tips, etc. For instance, would it work just as well with chicken pieces rather than the whole, butterflied chicken? Is the compound butter necessary, or just a great embellishment? Has anyone tried adding anything to the potatoes? Does it come out of the pan nice, like a loaf, or not so much?

Any insights would be appreciated.


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    1. I made it last night sticking pretty much to the original recipe. It was delicious. I think the compound butter added a lot of flavor. I made the garlic mustard butter, but was out of thyme (a metaphor for my life!) so I subbed herbes de provence, and it worked really well.

      I found that the skin was very crispy at first, but softened pretty quickly, so I would eat it fresh out of the oven if possible.

      I added one sweet onion, chopped, to the potatoes. They were delicious, and the meat was really juicy and flavorful.The only thing I will change next time is to make sure I use the foil pan liner. I didn't, and the pan is still soaking.

      I also followed jfood's tip about roasting the backbone (and wing tips) to rend some chicken fat, and made a broth from the giblets and roasted bones to make gravy. It didn't really need gravy, though, since it was so moist and flavorful, so the gravy is in the freezer along with the leftover chicken, waiting to become a pot pie one of these days.

      An excellent dish!

      14 Replies
      1. re: bear

        Where does the compound butter come in? I don't see it in the recipe grampart posted.

        1. re: danhole

          That was a little vague in the recipe, but in the accompanying article, it was mentioned. I used 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, two chopped garlic cloves, 1 teas. dijon, and a sprinkle of herbes de provence.

          I'm just snacking on some of the leftover potatoes. Really good, and I highly recommend the onion.

          1. re: bear

            But when do you use the compound butter? Do you use it over the potatoes after cooking, or rub it on the chicken before cooking? And do you have to brine the chicken? We are on a low sodium diet and I don't want to add anymore sodium than is absolutely necessary.

            1. re: danhole

              I did brine the chicken for about an hour (after butterflying) and it really made a difference in how juicy and succulent the chicken was. It was the juiciest chicken I have cooked. I don't know enough about brining to know if you can do a low-sodium brine.

              As far as the compound butter goes, after removing the chicken from the brine and patting it dry, you gently loosen the skin and smear the butter under the skin over the breast meat. It flavors the meat very nicely, and helps the chicken to brown and crisp.

              1. re: bear

                Danhole, I just remembered,

                CI said you could alternately air-dry the chicken for 24 hrs. in the fridge. This wouldn't help with juiciness, but would help to crisp the skin.

                1. re: bear

                  Oh, good! So I would rinse it, dry it, put on a plate and loosely cover with foil or wax paper, or leave uncovered? Do you think this would work with cornish hens?

                  BTW, thanks for all your help!

                  1. re: danhole

                    Pat dry and put on a rack on a plate. Do not cover.

                    1. re: danhole

                      I'm not sure that the hens would take long enough to cook so that the potatoes would get brown.

              1. re: grampart

                Thanks for posting the link, it looks delicious. The link does not mention at what temperature you are support to roast it. Does anyone know?

                1. re: GretchenS

                  In the recipe, under #1, it says to heat to 500 degrees. It took me two or three times to find that!

                  Thanks for the help everyone!

            2. re: bear

              I have a couple of questions. What is a "broiler pan rack" and how much smoke does roasting at high heat cause? The last time I did a high heat roast my house was full of smoke and didn't smell great for a couple of days. But maybe I did something wrong.

              1. re: Linda513

                There wasn't any smoke, since the potatoes soak up the juices and grease and get full of that wonderful flavor. They also get nice and brown on the bottom, and I stuck them under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top when they came out.

                I have a broiler pan with a top with slots in it. It came with the stove. The potatoes go on the bottom, the slotted top, and the chicken on the top. The juices and chicken fat drip through onto the potatoes.

                You could use a cooling rack if you need to, but you want to make sure there is a little space between the chicken and potatoes.

                1. re: bear

                  I found one of those broiler pans in the drawer at the bottom of my oven. Never used it before. I made the chicken with potatoes last night. I didn't have time to brine the chicken, but it came out amazingly juicy. I used the compound butter which was divine. The potatoes didn't stick to the foil thanks to a healthy coating of pam, and we liked the way the ones in the middle were soft and creamy and the ones around the edges were brown and crispy. No smoking up the house at all! This recipe is definitely going into the rotation.

            3. I've done this a couple of times: the potatoes come out absolutely amazing. However, it's true that using non-stick foil (or just spraying plain foil with Pam) is absolutely necessary: the potatoes stick like mad.

              I've done a variation adding sweet potatoes and onions as well: very nice indeed.

              1. This is actually one of my favorite recipes. I have done it with a brined chicken, an unbrined one, and a kosher one. I liked the kosher chicken the best, then the brined bird, then the unbrined, but they are all wonderful.

                You could probably use chicken pieces, but I would make sure to use some dark meat, since it probably adds to the flavor. I

                I have used the compound butter in a number of ways, and they all work. The original recipe uses (as others have said) thyme, dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and butter, but I've done it with other herbs, and even with shallots instead of garlic. I think the compound butter adds great flavor to the potatoes, which some people think are the best part. They REALLY stick, so it's very important to use the foil and cooking spray. I lay down a piece of waxed paper on the counter and then put another piece over the potatoes, flip them over, and very carefully peel the foil off the potatoes. This takes a little time, but is not difficult and totally worth it.They come off the foil in groups, mostly. I cannot stress enough how delicious they are.

                4 Replies
                1. re: alysonlaurel

                  What issue of CI did that recipe appear in? I have a good number of them but not all, and am not finding it.

                  1. re: karykat

                    I don't know which issue because I saw the recipe on their television show. It's on the website, though.

                    You can sign up for free to get a lot of their current or popular recipes. I copy and paste them to Word files so I can keep them forever. Search for High-temp roast chicken. If you still can't find it, please let me know and I'll get it for you.

                    1. re: karykat

                      There is a link, posted by grampart, above here.

                    2. Thanks to everyone for their responses - they give me all the info I need to try this recipe, and from the sound of things, the sooner I try it the better!!

                      Thanks, everyone & happy holidays!