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Sep 7, 2009 06:39 PM

best easy roast chicken method?

I've been getting really good organic pasture-raised whole chickens at my farmer's market and I'm looking for your suggestions for roasting them. I've been using Jamie Oliver's recipe which involves stuffing butter, lemon zest, thyme, garlic, and prosciutto under the breast skin -- it is fantastic but a little fussy. I want to be able to come home from work and have the chicken in the oven in 5 or 10 minutes, and not have to do much else other than take it out. I'm willing to do a little prep the night before.

What are your favorite easy chicken-roasting methods?

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  1. my go-to simple chicken recipe - and don't be put off by it's simplicity - the recipe delivers:

    12 Replies
    1. re: jeanmarieok

      I just tried this recipe tonight. It was my first time ever roasting a chicken. It came out delicious. Delicious enough to never buy another rotisserie chicken from the supermarket again. It was so easy and my kitchen smells wonderful.

      Thank you so much for posting this!

      1. re: soypower

        Did your chicken smoke like crazy?!? I tried the recipe from Ad Hoc at home, looks pretty close to the epicurious recipe above, and I'm afraid I'll never attempt that again. Smoked so, so bad and I felt like the apartment reeked of chicken fat/smoke for days. I loved the result- but I'm afraid my conclusion was the opposite- I'll probably never roast a chicken again and may try out the store-bought version.

        1. re: mjhals

          I hear that the trick is to use the smallest pan that you can shove the chicken into

          1. re: mjhals

            I agree with jvanderh. My kitchen smoked up a bit, but it was so worth the end result. Try a smaller vessel next time.

            1. re: ludmilasdaughter

              Use a BIGGER pan!

              First off, make sure the bird is on a rack - it won't fry or stew in it's own juice.

              For the first 20 minutes or so, just pour a thin layer of water in the bottom of the roasting pan -- that's enough to keep it from smoking and spattering.

              After the first 20 minutes, dump some rough-chopped root vegetables - potatoes, onions, parsnips, carrots, leeks, maybe some mushrooms and celery, even though they're not root veggies, that have been tossed in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper -- under the chicken and let them roast for the last 40 minutes that the chicken's in the oven. Leave the water - it will help steam the veggies, and you'll get delicious vegetables roasted in chicken drippings. Yum.

                1. re: jvanderh

                  and it's one less pan to futz with later.

                  By the way -- after you serve/plate, and the roasting pan is empty, pour some water in it and set it either back in the warm oven or over a still-warm burner from the rest of your dishes (stove and oven are off by now).

                  The heat and water will soften all the caramelized bits and make the pan much easier to clean.

            2. re: mjhals

              I believe the smoke comes from the buildup of grease splattering on the walls. Luckily, we had just gotten a new oven when I started roasting chickens, so I have yet to experience the smoke issue...

              I know there was some info on the zuni chicken thread about how to reduce the smoke from the high heat cooking...I'll see if I can find it.

              1. re: soypower

                Thanks! My oven is also fairly new- about a year old, but very little roasting/spillage in that time.

                And for what it's worth- I roasted it in a big roasting pan with a rack. The drippings definitely fell into the pan and smoked. At the end I didn't even have usable drippings, they were all blackened/carbonized into the pan. I like sunshine's idea about adding water to the bottom of the pan, except the Keller recipe specifically recommends against doing anything (to include basting) that would cause the chicken to steam rather than roast. But I may just adopt the slower and lower roasted method for the sake of my sanity. There was a lot of smoke. A lot.

                1. re: mjhals

                  I'm talking just enough to cover the bottom of the pan and keep the drippings from spattering and smoking, not give the thing a bath.

                  I have yet to ever make roasted chicken this way (see my post downthread for more detail) that the skin didn't come out crispy and brown and tasty.

                  (it's actually a benefit - when you put the veggies in later, the hot water/steam speeds their cooking just a little and keeps them moist, instead of having dehydrated little chunks of mummified vegetables.)

                  1. re: mjhals

                    Here ya go...


                    I've yet to try the Zuni method as it requires a bit of pre-planning, so I stick with Keller's recipe for it's ease and deliciousness. Incredibly crispy skin, I tell ya...

            3. re: jeanmarieok

              I also love the Keller method.

              Not to sound condescending, but the key is a good quality bird. A great method can't make an average grocery store bird taste any better.

            4. Here's mine:
              Preheat the oven to 475F
              A bit of olive oil in a cast iron pan and put some salt on it. (I often put a square of parchment first to prevent sticking)
              Put the chicken in the pan (I don't bother washing)
              Grab a head of garlic and cut in half around the "equator" and stick all of it in in the cavity (don't bother peeling).
              Squeeze lemon and/or lime juice all over (including the cavity)
              Add a good amount of kosher salt or coarse salt all over (I tend to use a lot - don't forget the cavity.)
              Stick it in the oven (even as it is coming up to temp).

              Check it once in a while - spoon or baste the chicken with its own drippings. Squeeze more lemon juice if you want. Tip out the juices that accumulate in the cavity into the drippings to further flavour the baste. After a while, the chicken is literally frying in its own fat.

              It should be done when the leg separates easily (about an hour) and when the skin is mahogany brown with some very dark areas. Turn on the broiler for a couple of mins at the end to enhance the colour. Here is a photo of one I did a couple of months ago for reference:

              1. One of my favorite methods is to butterfly the chicken (takes about ten minutes) and pop it into the refrigerator. Next day, lay it on a bed of veggies in a roasting pan and pop it into the oven. No muss, no fuss. Just good roasted chicken. You can stuff things under the skin if you want to. That doesn't take much time and it does enhance the flavors.

                5 Replies
                1. re: todao

                  Is there a reason for allowing the butterflied chicken to rest a day in the refrigerator before cooking?

                  1. re: comestibles

                    So you don't have to do it when you get home from work the next day.

                    1. re: Bryn

                      I think it also lets the skin dry out some so that it gets crispier.

                  2. re: todao

                    I have found that threading a few long metal skewers across the flattened bird makes it easier to handle and stay together while cooking. This is especially helpful if you are cooking it on a grill.

                    A benefit I have found is that if you usually make stock with the giblets and neck, the added 1" width of spine that you cut from the bird can be added to the stock pot so that you get more stock at the end. I'll get about a pint, maybe a pint and a half, of really good stock from a roaster that way, just simmering away on a back burner.

                  3. rinse chicken.

                    cut one or two onions in quarters, put some inside, some around the bird's legs and in the pan, add a little water (half a cup), cut an orange or lemon in half, squeeze over bird, put one half inside chicken, salt and pepper, any other spices and herbs you want (I like ginger powder and a little curry powder.
                    Roast at 350 for 2 hours.

                    If you ever want to finish up left over jars of dressings, mayos sauces etc just spoon onto the skin before cooking.

                    1. My favorite is the Zuni Cafe's recipe. Rub all over generously with salt and pepper, inside and out, drape lightly with plastic wrap, and stick in the frig for a day or two. When ready to cook, preheat over to 475. Heat up an oven-safe skillet on the stove until really hot, then stick the chicken in it, breast-side up. If the pan doesn't sizzle when you put the chicken in it it isn't hot enough.

                      Throw the skillet in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, then flip the bird over for another 10-20 min. Flip it over again and cook for another 5-10 min if the breast skin needs crisping. Otherwise, as long as it's done it's done.

                      As I recall, during the salting stage the recipe includes stuffing herbs in the chicken but I never bother.