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Re: "My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken"--should the house be filled with smoke?!

In the midst of roasting a chicken a la the epicurious recipe above. It's a 4.5 lb chicken and it has been cooking for approx. 1 hour 10 min now. We've been playing Wii games and only just noticed that the entire house is getting full of smoke. The stove vent is on the highest setting; we've opened every window in the house. Eyes are stinging a bit and I'm afraid the smoke detector will go off.

Is this how it's SUPPOSED to be??? Am I doing something wrong? It's only the chicken, with S&P.

I'm afraid to let the chicken keep cooking but I'm wondering if I have to double the time (original recipe for 2-3 lb chicken says to roast for 50-60 min).

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  1. You did nothing wrong other than punch the ticket to roasting chicken at high heat.

    This recipe is a derivative of a Zuni chicken and at 450 the fat will smoke like the dickens, and it has happend to most people.

    BTW - there is NO vent setting that can handle the smoke other than a commercial venting system.

    The trick is

    1 - lower the temp to around 425
    2 - high sided roaster
    3 - use a turkey baster to remove the grease every 10 minutes or so

    10 Replies
    1. re: jfood

      Thanks, jfood.

      When you say a "high sided roaster" what depth are you thinking? Our turkey roaster is about 4.5 inches deep. The pan I used was 3.5 inches.

      I took it out at 1hr 20min when we couldn't take the smoke anymore--and it was way over 160 degrees in the inside thigh, so I guess we could have taken it out sooner. But it was moist and delicious--if a tad too salty. (And I followed Thomas Keller's advice about what to eat first--never had that triangular "chicken butt" before--pretty darn good all crispy)

      My husband and I both thought the same thing: it's delicious--but is it really worth smoking up the entire house and worrying that the local fire department will be joining us for dinner? (And the stove is a complete mess with grease all over the floor of it. Yikes.)

      Then I caught sight of our gas grill outside and wondered: could we do this same thing on the grill just as if it were the stove? Can you put a nice Analon pan on a grill or is it better to use those disposable aluminum pans? (Would the chicken stick to it?)

      It's too bad: it's very easy to make, wonderful to eat, but the cleanup is going to take forever.

      1. re: Birmingham

        I roast chicken on the grill all the time for precisely this reason.

        1. re: Birmingham

          If you put the pan on the grill the chicken will burn since you have the flames directly under the pan.

          solution - if you want to use the grill you need to buy a cookie sheet that you will probably never be able to use again for cookies. Take the grates off and place the cookie sheet on the weber flavoring bars. then replace the grates and crank up the heat to the 450-500. heat a pan on the inside stove until hot and carry out to the grill and place on the grates. place the chicken breast side down for 20-30 minutes then flip to breast up and if needed finish breast down. BTW - remove the fat pieces at the neck and at the cavity near the triangle. the cookie sheet takes a beating but it disperses the heat nicely to the outside of the grill.

          now that you found the triangle, go for the oysters which are located on the lower spine.

          1. re: jfood

            Would this method work with an Anolon 5qt 11-inch "sauteuse" pan which says it's good up to 500 degrees? Or should I use something disposable? It sounds like a great idea with the cookie sheet.

            I like elfcook's idea too: would use the deeper turkey roaster and fill with the veggies and then try the oven once more--but at 425 as you suggested. I'll choose a nice mild day on which we wouldn't mind having all the windows open. :-)

            1. re: Birmingham

              sauteuse pan is perect and make sure it is not non-stick since that can only go to 450-500.

              now try this


            2. re: jfood

              Or, you can just use a V-rack on a roasting pan and use the grill like an oven, which is what I do. Yes, the bottom of the roasting pan has some marks from the grill, but otherwise it's fine.

              1. re: Jen76

                Thanks! It's about 2 hours since dinner and my husband is still trying to clean the stove and the sauteuse pan. Some marks on a roasting pan from the grill don't sound so bad in comparison. Will a nonstick roaster work all right? That's all we've got.

                1. re: Birmingham

                  It's all I've got, too. My roaster is getting dark on the outside, but it's held up well. Inside is just fine.

                  1. re: Birmingham

                    messy oven? throw a potato in and let it bake until it explodes. no idea why but afterward it'll all wipe down easy - grease, potato bits and old baked-on grunge. it's a mess, but a different and easier kind of mess.

            3. I love making roasted chicken, but don't love the smoke. Kill 2 birds with one stone: throw some potato, onion, carrot chunks in the bottom of the roasting pan. You get fantastic roasted veggies & they soak up the fat so it smokes less.

              1 Reply
              1. re: elfcook

                I roast chicken at high heat on a vertical roaster and my solution to the smoke situation is to get a head start on the gravy. I put the giblets & neck in the bottom of the pan with some onion, carrot etc and half an inch of water or vegetable stock. Replenish as needed to keep some liquid in the bottom of the pan. Use this as your gravy base.

              2. We've done that chicken several times and I've actually found it to be less smoky (for whatever reason) when I do it in a shallow pan filled with veggies in my countertop convection oven- I don't know exactly why, but it seems to work better than my standard oven. The salt does get overpowering if you get nuts, but the crispy butt as you said, is totally worth it!

                1. Too late, but you do NOT have to double the time! Eek, a disaster! One hr, 10 minutes sounds just about perfect.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jaykayen

                    Ah, I wondered about that. So just when the house started smoking, we could have taken it out? Who needs a thermometer? ;-)

                    We are going to try this again on Sunday on the grill...

                  2. I don't use this recipe, but I do start at a high temp to get the skin brown before lowering for most of the roast. I've just started keeping a little liquid in the bottom of the pan after the first 10 minutes or so. Wine, stock, or a combo. Not too much, tho, or you risk steaming the chicken and not getting that nice crisp skin.

                    1. next time, try the butterfly chicken, or flattened by taking out hte back bone, flatten it and roast it with a weight on it. I actually did it on the grill, fantastic and shorter amount of time because it's all the same thickness. Ina has a great recipe for this but I've seen several.

                      1. If you put a thick layer of salt on the bottom of the pan and use a rack, the salt will absorb the fat and prevent burning. Of course you can't then make gravy from drippings.

                        One easy rule for basic roast chicken is 4.5# at 450 for 45 minutes. So it's easy to see why yours was overcooked.

                        Another method, especially if the bird is butterflied, is to slightly oil the pan, arrange thickly-sliced potato in it, and roast the chicken on a rack above it. The drippings baste the spuds for a tasty side of roast potatoes.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: greygarious

                          Great--that sounds like a winner! I had asked my husband if he'd like to try it outside on the grill or inside on a bed of veggies. He wanted the latter--but I was going to miss having the chicken be crispy. So I'll do the potatoes below and the chicken above method and see how that goes. And thanks so much for that rule--but what about the Epicurious recipe (subject line) for the 2-3lb chicken at 450 for 50-60 min? Or does any size chicken cook at about the same rate at 450?

                          1. re: Birmingham

                            That recipe seems like too hot a temp for a 2-3 # chicken. You have to allow different temps and/or roasting times depending on the size of the bird. For example, with high heat a very large chicken could be over-brown with the outer meat very dry by the time the innermost portion was cooked. Such a bird is better roasted at 350 or lower, cranked to higher heat at the end to crisp the skin if need be.

                            On the other hand, you roast a smaller bird, or a butterflied one, on higher heat, to get the skin crisping right away because the meat may cook pretty fast. The most important thing is to take its temperature rather than relying on cookbook timing.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              Okay we did it--made another chicken today with your thick slices of potato below and the chicken above on a rack. Used slightly less salt than last time. Still did 450 for 45 minutes. Opened up all the windows but--NO SMOKE!!! The only bad thing is that a friend stopped by who said she'd only be here a minute and she stayed well over an hour and a half. I didn't want to feed her, so I left the chicken to sit while I tried getting rid of her. (Even taking a couple Tylenol and rubbing my head didn't get the message across.) The chicken was tasty and the potatoes were beautiful--but I'm sure it all would have been even tastier if we could have eaten them hot.

                              One question: I'm not sure that the dark meat is quite as done as it should be. Do I discard or can I cut up, freeze, and put in soup?

                              1. re: Birmingham

                                Did you butterfly the chicken? If not, I can understand the dark meat getting less heat because the potatoes prevent some of the heat on the bottom of the pan from reaching the underside of the chicken. Still, the dark meat is probably safely cooked, unless there are bloody juices at the bone. You can bake, sautee, or microwave it for a little bit if you are worried, and in either case you can freeze it to use later for soup or other purposes.

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  No, didn't butterfly--sounded too advanced for me. And since I knew this friend was coming over, I wanted to get the chicken in the oven fast. (Thought she'd be here and gone by the time it was done.)

                                  If I bought a chicken at Whole Foods, think they'd butterfly it for me? When I originally asked them for a 2-3 pound chicken, they offered to cut one in half for me--but not knowing if that would work, I didn't buy one.

                                  I really appreciate your help--and everyone else's. Wish I had known about Chowhound years ago! It's a goldmine of good advice.

                                  1. re: Birmingham

                                    Here you go B.

                                    Jfood found two videos. He may not agree 100% with this one but you can see how easy it is and the guy does an A- job of it..


                                    And if you think you might be embarassed, here is a video from someone who butchered a fairly simple process yet felt it was good enough to post on line. Jfood turned it off when she grabbed the spine and started twosting.


                                    1. re: jfood

                                      Thanks, jfood, I think I could do that! Tell me what made the first video an A-.

                                      In the second video, the woman didn't remove the keel bone--would you recommend that or not? (I thought she was going to chop one of her fingers off with the awkward way she was doing it.)

                                      1. re: Birmingham

                                        both of them removed the spine. here is jfood's problem with that. One of the BEST parts of the choicken are the oysters. they are these little thumb-sized pieces of meet about a third of the way up from the bottom. jfood does not share them with anyone and eats both as he is carving the finished product along with the crispiest skin that is along the spine. he cuts and throws away the spine and the oysters, REALLY BAD.

                                        The keel can go either way. either it is removed before or after cooking. no biggie either way.

                                        1. re: jfood

                                          Oh, no oysters if you remove the spine! That's bad. But how else would you butterfly? Do you just cut up one side?

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              Hey jfood--have you ever tried this way? http://www.lastnightsdinner.net/2009/...
                                              They call it "leap frog chicken." (Of course you-all may have had extensive conversations on this method already since this blog post is a year old.)

                        2. I know what that smoke is like! We did the Zuni chicken once when my guy had a bad chest cold and I thought it was going to kill him. I also thought that part of my problem was that my oven was probably not that clean to start with. That's just me though!

                          I think that JoanN had a trick she suggested to reduce the smoke. I think if I'm remembering correctly that she drained away the fat that had rendered out of the chicken onto the bottom of the roasting pan a couple or three times during the roasting. She said that cut way down on the smoke, if I'm remembering correctly.

                          Does anyone else remember that?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: karykat

                            Twas Jfood as well. He used a sauteuse pan and used a turkey baster to remove the fat after the first 15 minutes and then at 10 minute intervals thgereafter. The trick is you must remove the pan from the oven and immediately close the door to keep the temperature in the 425 range. Place on a trivet on the coutertop and lift one end of the pan so te fat goes to the lower end. then use the baster to remove as much fat as possible.

                            Like you, jfood's Zuni almost led to him sharing with the local fire department when the smoke detector went off.

                          2. When I roast a duck (or a fatty chicken) at high heat, I put an inch of water in the bottom of the roasting pan. It can help render some of the fat and yet lets the bird brown while eliminating the smoke. Sometimes I'll throw rosemary, orange rind, whatever in the water to give fragrance as well.

                            1. Watching ATK or Cooks Country, they had a very simple trick to reduce smoke. They took a sheet of heavy aluminum foil cut to the size of just the bottom of the roasting pan (not up the sides) and used a knife to cut about 8-10 slits into the foil. That was put under the roasting rack before cooking started. The fat that rendered off the bird then seeped under the foil and gave off less smoke.

                              I haven't tried this myself; however, ATK techniques are pretty reliable.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: weezycom

                                That's also where I got the upthread idea of roasting potatoes under a butterflied chicken on a rack. I quit renewing my subscription because, as this exemplifies, an awful lot of their recent content was just reinventing the wheel.

                              2. Lincoln Log chicken never burns. Sam and I worked on it for a year. Build a carrot corral 3- 4 courses tall, with calipers and ruler to notch the carrots like Lincoln Logs to build a sturdy platform for the chicken that will survive a 5.5 earthquake. Set in a low wall pan for good heat / air circulation with lots of veggies: quartered onions, turnips, oiled small red potatoes with rosemary, elephant garlic heads, and a cut up beet in the corral under the chicken that gets basted by the bird in the last half hour of cooking. Season with S&P, rosemary, sage, bake @350, 20 minutes per pound.
                                All this talk of 450 degrees? Save that for crematoriums, soldering circuit boards, and pizza ovens. Not chickens.