Roast chicken help
I know that there have been post on this topic but I did a search of the board and couldn't find them. I have ordered a roaster for Christmas but I haven't cooked a roast chicken in at least 20 years. I would like the bird to be juicy with with crispy skin. Any help is very much appreciated. thanks in advance.
Couple little knowledge bombs I have picked up about cooking roast chicken: You don't have to wash it, high temp will kill anything bad. Just make sure it is well dried inside and out. Bring to room temp if you have the time, it will cook more evenly. Cook in the lower portion of the oven, heat bounces off the top of the oven and can lead to uneven cooking. Cook with the legs facing the back of the oven. I'm a fan of the Keller method, salt, pepper, and thats it. It makes a lot of sense, he says no oil or butter or veg in the pan or cavity, anything that introduces moisture because you will make the skin less crispy. I am partial these days to not using herbs or lemon or anything else, it's nice to have a chicken that tastes like chicken not herbs. Also you have a more neutral product if you are going to use it in other things or make stock with the carcass which you ALWAYS should. Sometimes I do finish with Thyme per Keller's suggestion. I have cooked roast chicken about 10 ways, I never bother with the rest anymore.
I'll bullet point my approach in keeping with it's simple approach (It looks like a lot of steps but once you read it you'll see it's really simple):
-- Wash the bird inside and out.
-- Dry the bird off as completely as possible with paper towels. Inside the cavity, too.
-- Season the bird with kosher salt. A lot. More than you think you want. Then maybe times that by two. The idea is that you're actually seasoning the meat through and though, not just the skin. Don't forget to sprinkle a little in the cavity.
-- Place the bird on a wire rack on a plate.
-- Tent some wax paper over the bird but try not to let it touch the skin.
-- Leave the bird in your refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 36 (24 hours is what I shoot for).
-- Take your bird out and truss it. Yes. You have to do this. Once you do it a few times it'll be like tying your shoes. I promise. Cooking a whole bird already means some parts will be more or less cooked than others. This helps alleviate some of that.
-- Preheat the oven to 500. Put your 12" cast iron skillet in the oven so it's hot and ready to go.
-- Reseason your bird. A little more salt and whatever else you like. Unlike the first salting, this will season the skin rather than the meat.
-- Place bird in oven once preheated. Cook until thighs are at the lowest internal temperature you're comfortable with (within reason of course). If you want to add herbs (thyme is good) then do so about 5-7 minutes before you plan to take the bird out.
-- Pull bird out and let rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes. This is also a critical step that cannot be skipped.
This will create and incredibly crispy skin and I find the meat to have superior seasoning to a brined/waterlogged bird. I prefer to keep this prep very simple and eschew cooking vegetables in the same pan and don't bother with putting aromatics in the cavity. I like the flavor of the chicken so much this way.
I dust the chicken with a little fennel pollen and espelette as it rests and it's awesome.
This is a combination of Thomas Keller's cooking technique with Judy Roger's salting technique.
Add another method to this madness.
Jfood has a vertical roaster thingy he bought years ago for a couple of bucks.
He places the bird on the thingy and seasons the outside with whatever tickles his fancy that night from his Pennzy collection. He pre-heats the oven to 425.
He places the rack on the bottom shelve, throws the bird in and sets the timer for 20 minutes. He rotates the bird after 20 minutes and sets the timer for 15 minutes. Then goes back to CH.
After the full 35 he takes out the bird. That's right a total of only 35 minutes.
Crispy outside and moist inside. The internal temperature is about 165-170 using this method.
BTW - MMRuth is absolutely correct in reminding people to take out the bag in the cavity.
Brine the whole bird for at least 2 hours. Then dry the skin very, very well, before dusting with salt & pepper and putting into a 350F oven. That's the secret to crispy skin. Cook to an internal temperature of 160F. Remove from the oven and rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving.
I am a roast chicken fanatic and have tried many ways. Don't get too confused - every chef has a different way to do it and in my experience it is difficult to screw up, if you season it well.
I stand by my own approach, though, which is very easy:
Here's how I roast my chickens. The result is crispy and juicy.
I just rub a little softened butter on the outside, season the bird inside and out, tie the legs and tuck the wings under and put it on a rack in a pan at 425 degrees. After 15 minutes, drop the temp to 350, throw a couple of veggies in the bottom of the pan and let it go. Total roasting time is usually about 45 minutes plus 7 minutes per pound. The drippings make a great gravy.
Here's a title search - not all of them are on topic but many are:
Also, I recently typed this up for someone, so will post it here:
This is my husband’s tried and true method. I do try different methods, and some have good aspects to them, but this is great because you can have a great roast chicken for dinner in just slightly more than an hour. Since I like white meat, and he dark, a whole chicken works well for us. I usually just wrap what’s leftover in foil and stick it in the fridge. The next day, I remove the meat – usually just white meat, and put the carcass in a ziplock bag in the freezer to make stock with. If you plan to do that, it’s actually easier if you cut up or break up the carcass a bit before you put it in the bag. About 2 inch pieces are good. This way, you can just take them from the freezer into the stock pot, and the cutting it up helps release the gelatin in the bones which will give you a nicer stock/broth. I usually just use the chicken for chicken salad.
1 chicken, preferably between 3.5 and 4 pounds. Kosher/organic/free range tend to have better flavor.
Some combination of onion/shallots/garlic cloves/a lemon/some fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage). I just tend to use what I have around – half an onion in the fridge, etc., whatever herbs I have, an unsqueezed lemon half. These get stuffed into the cavity.
Olive oil or butter
Preheat the oven to 550 degrees, or as hot as it will go, but don’t turn on the broiler.
Take the bags out of the cavity (I usually throw the neck into the ziplock that I’ll use for the carcass, and put the liver into another one for pate), rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels, particularly on the outside so that the skin can get nice and crisp.
Season inside and out generously with salt and ground pepper. If you want to, spread some olive oil or melted butter over the chicken. Throw the combination of onions/herbs/etc. that you have into the middle. I usually cut the onions into quarters, lemon in half, leave garlic cloves whole and unpeeled.
Now – this is slightly tricky, and you might want to look at your cookbook the first time. You don’t HAVE to truss the chicken, but it does make it cook more evenly and nicely. At a minimum, tie together the legs with butcher’s twine. Then, put it in the oven.
After 20 minutes, turn the oven to 425, and cook the chicken for another 30 minutes. You may need to cover bits of the chicken with a little foil if they are getting to dark. Sometimes I chop of the tips of the wings before putting it in the oven, which helps. So, when the chicken has been in for 50 minutes, it is probably done. Take it out of the oven, and put a small knife in between the leg and the breast. If the ‘juices run clear’, it’s done. Remove it from the roasting pan onto a platter, cover (‘tent’) with foil, and let rest for at 10 minutes before carving.
Note: I've used this with larger chickens, as well, and it takes just a little longer.
Just wanted to add that I used this method tonight, with a 5.75 lb roaster - never see that in NYC, but it was the smallest one I could find here in NC. Oddly, the label said that it could contain up to 12% of its weight in chicken stock - NO idea what that is about. My mother's oven only goes up to 500 degrees, so we did 30 minutes at that temp, then another 30 at 425, rest for 15 minutes and it was perfectly moist. The skin was less crispy than I would have liked - maybe because I didn't tent it properly. I served it with a lovely celery and lemon sauce from Elizabeth David that I made for the first time. No butcher's twine, so I made a "rope" out of foil to tie up the legs. Stuffed it with thyme, the lemon peel from the lemon from the sauce, and cooked it on a "celery" rack, with the neck underneath as well.
The current roast chicken thread led me here and i made a version of this for supper tonight. Delicious! I *loved* your tip about making foil rope to tie the legs, it worked beautifully.
Lots of Yukon Golds, sweet potatoes and onions, oiled and seasoned, covered the bottom of the pan and the chicken went right on top. Everything was wonderful and a big hit with the family.
Thank you for taking the time to post this. We love roast chicken and this was great.