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Jan 9, 2009 03:41 PM

So many roast chickens recipes, but do you have a favorite?

My experiences with roast chicken have been mixed and I'd like something really good and relatively plain - not unseasoned but I'd like the main taste to be chicken. People on this board will frequently say "oh do a roast chicken." But can any of y'all point me towards something where the breast doen't get overcooked and the skin is brown and at least a little crunchy? And my guests will go "oh my, this is SO good." Thanks in advance.

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    I am going to try the Zuni recipe this month though, as I just got the book for Christmas, and it's one of the COTM books that we are revisiting.

    18 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      I second the Zuni vote. Its the only way I make roasted chicken anymore.


      1. re: ourhomeworks

        I vote for Zuni, too. I've tried it uncountable ways and many were good, like butterflying, high heat/turn down, beer can but once I tried the Zuni, I stopped trying anything else. In cast iron. and throw in a handful of peeled garlic cloves about 20 mintues before you take the chicken out.

        1. re: chowser

          me too; the zuni high heat method is the only one I use. Sometimes I don't have the time to do the couple day brining, but I still cook it the same way. Sometimes I put potatoes on the bottom of the pan (I think jfood had that idea) and that's good too, but the basic high temp, small chicken, flip it flip it method is the only one I use.

          1. re: DGresh

            When do you put the potatoes in the pan? Does the chicken cook the same w/out the hot sear of the pan? It sounds really good. I've made mashed potatoes with the chicken drippings, instead of the bread and that's really good.

            One thing I do when brining is put the chicken in a vertical tupperware. If I've missed drying any of it, it drips off.

            1. re: chowser

              Pre-heating the pan is supposed to help the skin not stick, but the skin has ALWAYS stuck for me.

              Cubed potatoes go in the same time as the chicken.

              1. re: jaykayen

                I just made the Zuni for the first time tonight, and I had the same result: skin completely stuck to the pan even though I pre-heated. Anyone have any suggestions? I imagine that the skin is supposed to sear quickly and then easily detach itself from the pan, but this doesn't seem to happen in practice. I'm considering oiling the pan next time (used All-Clad 10" SS frypan). Otherwise, one of the most delicious meats I've ever cooked.


                1. re: Noice

                  we like the zuni chicken a lot. deb uses a cast iron skillet. we've never had a problem with skin sticking.

                  1. re: Noice

                    I've done it with both cast iron and my all clad 10 incher. Turn the flame on full blast, put the pan on the flame for 3-4 minutes. Make sure the bottom of the chicken is very dry--that is place it on 2 paper towels for the 3-4 mins the pan is preheating and if it sticks, next time try it with your watch timing 3-4 mins. If it still sticks, you're living on another planet, return to earth and repeat. I've done this countless time. If the pan is hot and the chicken is dry, it won't stick.

                    1. re: Noice

                      It's important that the skin be quite dry, and that the pan is very hot. I always rest my chicken in the refrigerator on a folded up piece of paper towel for the brining period. I've never had a problem with sticking on a cast iron pan (and my cast iron pan is not seasoned to the point of "non-stick" that some have).

                      1. re: DGresh

                        Dry skin is very important for it not to stick (learned the hard way). It's why I brine the chicken vertical w/ paper towels below, too, changing it every few hours.

                  2. re: chowser

                    I put the potatoes in at the beginning (don't bother with the preheating of the pan). The fat from the chicken bastes the potatoes. When I take the chicken out to rest I put the potatoes back in to brown the parts where the chicken sat. There's always plenty of chicken fat in there by then to "baste" them.

                    1. re: DGresh

                      I'll have to try this. Do you use whole, sliced,?

                      1. re: chowser

                        sliced, thick or thin, depending on my mood and time.Thin is a bit nicer since they "fit" closer to the pan, but thick is ok too.

            2. re: MMRuth

              I'm going to fix your husband's version tonight cause I figure if YOU like it, I certainly will. Zuni and Keller will probably be the next versions. Thanks.

              1. re: c oliver

                This was excellent! Thanks. Because of its weight of almost 5# it took a little monitoring. I think I'm going to talk to the meat person at our big market and see if I can get smaller ones. A little aside/confession: the bird would have been better served if I had "allowed" my husband to cut it up. Until I serve my plate, I didn't realize that he had flipped the bird over therby destroying the crispy skin. We had "words" over that ! :(

                1. re: c oliver

                  oops, that should have read "hadn't allowed".

              2. re: MMRuth

                BTW, do you put the chicken on a rack? Thanks.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Sorry I didn't see this before - was travelling. I don't use a rack, though I do occasionally put in on a rack of celery.

              3. Thomas Keller's is my favorite. It's exactly what you describe. Simple, crispy golden skin, moist and juicy meat. It's my favorite recipe on nights when I don't feel like cooking.


                6 Replies
                1. re: Jen76

                  I agree that this method is excellent. The hardest part is finding a 2-3 pound chicken. Today's farm factories seem to put out large birds more in the 6-8 pound range.

                  1. re: TonyO

                    I find it hard to find a 3 pound bird in Manhattan, but the largest is usually about four pounds. However, when I was in NC over the holidays, the smallest bird I could find was almost six pounds, and I just couldn't believe it.

                    1. re: TonyO

                      Look at the natural chickens - they tend to be smaller. No hormones to bulk them up!

                    2. re: Jen76

                      I second Keller's method. When I'm up for a little more work, I like the recipe for Roast Chicken with Lemon and Thyme on Epicurious:


                      1. re: Jen76

                        I love The Thomas Keller Approach to roasted chicken and it is the only way I roast my chickens anymore. High heat, s&p, and a sprinkle of thyme after it's removed from the oven. Don't forget to eat the chicken butt (tom & his brother used to fight over that little piece of fat & skin when they were kids). Don't forget a little dollop of Dijon mustard on your plate for dipping. Simplistic and delicious!

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          I do a Zuni/Keller hybrid. Zuni pre-salt with the herbs (I've found I like 2 days minimum) and in my herb choice I always try to use marjoram, thyme and sage. Unlike Zuni's, I don't flip the bird. I roast it more like Kellers--including trussing the bird..

                      2. If I have a really large chicken or a capon, say 5# or more, I use a wet salt/sugar/garlic brine.
                        But if it's less than 5 lbs, I shove it neck-side down onto an angel-food or bundt pan after covering the tube's open end with tin foil. I salt the cavity and sometimes put onion and carrot inside. In the pan I put chunked onion/carrot/celery/apple. Vertically roasting it "upside-down" in this way allows the juices from the legs to baste the breast. Between that and the shelter provided by the sides of the pan, the breast doesn't overcook but the skin still browns well, especially on the legs and thighs. Roast at 350-375. The juices are good as is, or can be turned onto gravy. If all you have is a 2-part angel food pan, put the tube/bottom part into a different pan or a flat-bottomed casserole dish.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: greygarious

                          We have a vertical roaster that we used to us all the time. I should get it out again. The upside down aspect sounds like a real possibility.

                        2. Zuni. I've had comments like "is this how chicken is supposed to taste?" and "I've never had chicken as good as this before." Invariably, everyone I've cooked it for has said something along those lines.

                          I've also made the Keller and Hazan recipes. No matter which method you pick, you must do the Zuni salt brine at least overnight. Doing this, you can dispense with any extra butter/oil that other recipes tell you to put on (your chicken absolutely will not need it in order to produce a crispy skin or prevent dryness.)

                          1. All three of these sound really good. Thanks.