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How to reduce splattering when roasting?

  • m

Lately I've been trying lots of recipes for roasting whole chicken. While the chicken ends up coming out great, my oven is covered in grease which splatters out from the pan (probably when the oil and chicken juices come into contact). Also it makes the kitchen very smokey (due to the high temp - 450 degress and the oil).

I was wondering if anyone had any tricks to reduce the mess that this makes. I've thought about maybe putting vegetables on the bottom of the pan. I've also heard that putting something like bread in the pan would help (obviously it would be thrown out after), but then this would affect the fond for making a pan sauce.

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  1. In 50 years of roasting things in a wide variety of ovens, I've never had those kinds of problems!

    How deep are the sides on your roasting pan? Do you tent your chicken with foil? What "oil and chicken juices" are you referring to? An oil rub on the skin; or cooked out chicken grease? How close is your heat element to the bird? Are you getting burning/smoke because it's too close? Again with the smoke you mention oil. I never roast anything with any more than a faint brush on of oil on the bird... More information please...

    4 Replies
    1. re: KiltedCook

      I have a Calphalon roasting pan with I think 4" deep sides. Although lately I've been experimenting with using a regular 12" skillet and a roasting rack inside of that since the roasting pan I have is much larger than I need for a single chicken and is more of a pain to wash.

      The problem could be that the sides of the skillet are too low, although I used to have this problem with my roasting pan as well. I am not tenting the chicken with foil. I use a fair amount of oil because I usually make a "wet rub" consisting of olive oil, lemon, herbs, etc. and then I cover the bird with it. I'm probably adding about 3-4 tbsp of oil to that. Maybe that's too much? I know that the oil is probably the cause of the smoking so maybe I'll try to use less next time and see what happens. Seems like oil is the key to getting crisp skin though and without the oil I would need some other liquid in the rub to replace it.

      The heating element is on the bottom of my oven so I don't think the proximity to the chicken is the problem.

      1. re: mliew

        Using the skillet with a rack is making for extra spatter. You should try using less oil in the rub, making it more of a paste. Better yet, a use a small amount of butter instead of the oil, for something between a paste and a rub. If you need it wetter, use wine, water, or more lemon juice.

        Several years ago, one of Cook's Illustrated's various methods for roasting chicken was to butterfly it, then high-heat roast with sliced potatoes covering the bottom of the pan, which gives you a delicious side dish of crusty, well-flavored spuds. That should work with your current method, too. I found it helped to coat the bottom of the pan with cooking spray before laying in the potatoes, to keep them from sticking and promote bottom browning. Another technique is to cover the bottom of the pan with a thick layer of salt, discarded later.

        1. re: greygarious

          I should have been clearer in describing the CI method - the butterflied bird goes on the rack of a broiler pan, the potatoes in a thinnish layer underneath the rack.
          The first time I did this I used too much potato so they were soft instead of nicely roasted. In order to get crispy edges the spuds need decent air circulation, so you wouldn't want a chicken so large that it almost covers the pan.

        2. re: mliew

          Olive oil burns at about 350 degrees, so this is likely why you're having trouble with smoke. You could try grapeseed oil, or if you like crispy skin, the best way I've seen to achieve that is to salt the chicken (in the style of the Zuni Cafe recipe) up to 24 hours before roasting. Then pat the skin very dry before cooking. I will typically rub butter and herbs underneath the chicken skin for a nice moist and flavorful bird.
          Phoo-D
          http://www.phoo-d.com

      2. Try keeping a little water in the roasting pan. It will tend to cool the oil that accumulates below the bird, keeping it from smoking and spattering. When it comes time to make the pan sauce, boil off the liquid and you're good to go.

        5 Replies
        1. re: alanbarnes

          Thanks for the tip. Wouldn't putting water in the pan cause the chicken to steam though (and the skin to not crisp up)?

          1. re: mliew

            Not unless you contain the steam by covering the chicken. We're talking about a fairly small amount of water here - a few tablespoons to half a cup at the very most. Not enough to steam up the oven, just enough to keep the oil in the pan from burning.

            The chicken itself will exude several tablespoons of liquid in the form of cooking juices, so the presence of a little water isn't going to change the roasting method from dry heat to wet heat.

            I always use a little water when I do a high-temp roast, both to prevent smoke and to preserve the drippings for a pan sauce (without water they'll eventually burn). Never had a problem with soggy skin.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              I see. That makes sense. I'll give it a try next time.

              1. re: mliew

                Thinking about this some more, if I put water in the pan then I don't need to deglaze the pan anymore (since there is no fond) right? Would I just add whatever I want in the sauce to the water (say wine, herbs, etc) and then boil it down to the desired thickness? Or should I boil it down completely until almost all of the water is evaporated, then drain the excess fat, deglaze it then build the sauce?

                1. re: mliew

                  Proceed as usual with your pan sauce. There should be a fond - we're talking about minimal quantities of water here, most or all of which will evaporate during the cooking process. When in doubt, use too little water - you can always add a tiny bit more if the pan starts to smoke.

        2. You don't need to roast a chicken at 450 deg. for the whole time. I usually start it breast side up at 450 for maybe 20 minutes to get it going and start to crisp up the skin, then turn it down to 325. About a third of the way through the cooking time, I turn it over, and for the last third, I turn it again, and I baste, once there are enough drippings for basting.

          I don't tent, but I do rub inside and out with butter and spices, and usually put some aromatic vegetables inside, and tie the chicken, tucking the wing tips under the thighs so the wings don't burn.