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gadgets for roasting chicken

Laura Calder's butter roasted chicken looks great -- she cooks it in a cast iron skillet in the oven, with the veggies in a roasting pan -- but it involves a lot of turning the chicken this way and that way every 15 mins while it cooks. There has to be a better way.

Any of you have any experience with these cone-shaped chicken roasters?

Staub vertical chicken roaster http://tinyurl.com/chickroast-staub

W-S vertical chicken roaster http://tinyurl.com/chickroast-WS

Römertopf chicken roaster http://tinyurl.com/chickroast-Romertopf

Or with this?

All-Clad ultimate chicken roaster http://tinyurl.com/chickroast-AllClad


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    1. re: ipsedixit

      except for the BPA in the can liners that will infuse your chicken

        1. re: chuckl

          You can put your can on a hot grill or over the stove with the hood turned up and burn off any coatings on that can before use. I'm not a big advocate of beer can chicken but I've used a can for cold smoking and before I use it there are no coatings left on that can.

          1. re: chuckl

            I don't think there is a BPA liner on an aluminum beer can.

          2. re: ipsedixit

            I agree. As long as you can stand it up in a roasting pan (sorry, I read a few posts this morning in whch hapless new cooks just put the meat on the oven racks with no pans, and started fires), it will work nearly as well as indirect heat on a covered outdoor grill. No moving.

            V-rack works really well too, for any size bird.

            1. I have a generic version of the Staub roaster that I purchased from QVC after hearing my mother rave about it. It is made of the same enameled cast iron, and any differences in the quality probably do not materially affect my experience with it. It is essentially a cone-shaped roaster that allows you to prop the bird up, breast end up, and it has a dish at the bottom to catch juices, etc.

              After having become a fan of beer can chicken, in which I prop up a chicken or two on top of an open beer can and cook, covered over indirect heat, on my gas grill, I was dying to try something that would work indoors for when it is just not nice enough to cook outdoors. I thought the enameled cast iron thing would be ideal.

              I am actually disappointed in the results. For one thing, when compared to cooking on a grill with the heat source underneath (even though it is indirect), the legs and thighs just don't cook enough. The skin remains rubbery, and I suspect it is because the bottom of the bird, which is near and below the dish level of the pan, is actually steaming versus roasting. This happens more when you try to put some veggies in the bottom. Any carrots or pototoes or other aromatics just seemed to increase this problem, so I tried it a few times without anything in the pan. The breast and wings come out great, but the dark meat really needs to cook more. Frankly, if I could figure out how to get the bird on the roaster upside down, it might do the trick, but I haven't had enough winter days to attempt to try it just yet.

              If I had to do it over, I would probably go for one of the wire contraptions and try it on a quarter sheet pan. That might crisp up the skin better.

              6 Replies
              1. re: RGC1982

                Question: Does the "steaming" effect actually retard the cooking of the dark meat, or only result in rubbery skin? Because my daughter who cooks in a small apartment with minimal ventilation, puts water in the bottom of her roasting pan (chicken on a V-rack that I bought her) to minimize smoking. She (and I) are on low-fat diets which means the skin is discarded anyway, so rubberiness isn't a factor. Neither of us has noticed a discrepancy betweeen doneness of dark vs breast/wing meat.

                We both use the "turning" method of cooking though: The chicken is start off on its side in the V-rack for the first 20 mins, then turned to sit on the other side for another 20 mins, then finally positioned breast-up for the remaineder of the roasting time. I read this in Cooks Illustrated some years ago and have been doing it that way ever since. So perhaps the side-up cooking time offsets the steam effect? The CI article did not mention water in the pan though (that was born of the desire to keep my daughter's apartment from smelling like chicken for the next several days,LOL!)

                1. re: dessert_diva

                  Joy of Cooking recommends the turning method as well, and it's the best way I know to end up with a gorgeously brown chicken every time. I've never had any issue whatsoever with it being rubbery, and the skin is always crispy (just ask DS who would eat an entire plate of just the skin if he thought I'd let him...he's slender, though, so the calories and fat are no issue for a growing adolescent boy!)

                  I, too, use water in the roasting pan...but only enough to keep the fat from smoking...at the end of the first 20 minutes (the first side), I add chopped vegetables (leeks, potatoes, carrots, parsnips...whatever's on hand) and let those roast in the drippings (which are NOT all fat, by the way) -- delicious, keeps the bird from smoking, and eliminates one more pan. Just put the veggies under the v-rack.

                  It's best to toss them with a drizzle of olive oil, however, or they tend to burn, rather than roast. (there's not much fat that comes off of the chicken -- not enough to keep the veg from burning)

                  1. re: dessert_diva

                    IMO, I think that it retards the cooking of the dark meat, as well as results in rubbery skin. The shame of it, of course, is that the dark meat (which is my favorite, BTW) has to cook to a slightly higher temperature than the white meat for it to be what I consider "perfect". I think that the skin not crisping is more of an esthetic issue, but the slightly underdone dark meat is a turn-off to me. I found myself wrapping the top of the bird (breasts and wings) with foil to finish cooking, but the skin was still not crisp if it was near the attached bottom dish or, worse, lower than the rim of the attached dish. Forget about carrots, onions and potatoes, and such -- that just made it worse.

                    It seems to me that there are two solutions, and I need the opportunity to try them out. One is to, somehow, get the bird onto the cone upside down, with its legs in the air. That might work to cook the different parts better. The other, which might be dangerous unless I can come up with a safe contraption -- is to keep it higher up on the cone in its original position. It may be unstable in that position, so I need to really consider this carefully.

                    I wouldn't want to start trying to take the bird off that cone to "turn it" while cooking. For one thing, the bird doesn't seem to fit upside down from the start. For another, and I am not slightly shy about handling a hot bird (I have the right insultated rubber gloves as well as a cook's naturally insulated fingers), it is not an easy thing to do. Turning a bird in a V rack is whole other story, and you can do that with two pairs of tongs. It will be harder to do on the vertical roaster, and you will probably have to get your hands on it, even before trying to make it fit upside down.

                    In my late mother's defense, she cooked everything way beyond well done, so she probably never had any such concerns about this. White meat was always way over done at her house, so keeping it cooking for an additonal 20-30 minutes was just fine for her. I think this is why she had no complaints about the roaster.

                    1. re: RGC1982

                      RGC, Dessert_diva and I were talking about turning a chicken on a v-rack, not on a cone. No way I'd try to put a chicken upside down on a cone...that's a nasty burn (and a slippery floor) just waiting to happen.

                      I've been roasting chickens on a v-rack with the turning method for going on 10 years, and have yet to have one come out rubbery or with soggy skin. The turning method also exposes the dark meat (wings and legs) to more heat during the roasting process, as they're on top (and bottom) of the bird for most of the cooking time. My experience is that the greater exposure to the heat results in the dark meat cooking just enough faster to be right on pace with the breast, which is always juicy and tender.

                      I have a rotisserie in my oven, and I do use it, but I also frequently use the turned method because of its high success rate and rave compliments.

                  2. re: RGC1982

                    If I absolutely have to do a chicken indoors, I use my beer can stand in a CI pan and use the convection oven, skin good and crispy, perfect bird, I just rotate the pan a 1/4 turn every 15min

                    1. re: RGC1982

                      The theory behind the vertical roaster (or rather the only theory I've heard that is at all convincing...and I don't vertical roast myself so I'm neither recommending for or against) is that it sears the inside of the bird, keeping more juiciness in. Your experience with vegetables in the bottom making it worse supports this idea because they will block air circulation. If you vertical roast, I think you want as much air space around the bottom as possible to let hot air circulate into the bird.

                      I've pondered whether a preheated solid cast iron block the shape of a vertical roaster, or filling the body cavity with preheated gravel, might be a good thing. :^)

                    2. No gadgets needed- Most simple and delicious roast chicken recipie from Thomas Keller. Better than any other way of roasting, IMO.

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          Actually, I bought a Ronco Showtime Rotisserie last year, and that is how I make roast chicken now when I don't want to put it on the grill with a beer can. It comes out delicious, and the white and dark meat are both done properly.

                          1. re: RGC1982

                            RGC: That's great! I used to be sort of snobby about countertop appliances (especially the ones marketed in infomercials). Then I discovered in my parents effects a 1960's-era Farberware Open Heath electric rotisserie. I've used it a LOT, and for a lot of things besides chicken. This year I actually did a 12-pound turkey on it. A fat mallard drake brined and roasted on its spit is pretty much my choice for a last-meal-on-earth.

                            I'd like to try the Ronco sometime. It's enclosed, so you get some baking effect, too, right?

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              I bake whole chicken in the oven sometimes; but it always comes out best in the Popeil. I don't think it technically bakes; the single heating element is on the back wall to crisp the skin with its high intensity heat. The inside just cooks in a residual way. I guess, I'm no scientist.

                              What I have started doing is putting any leftover pieces of citrus fruit inside and it self bastes as it turns, which is a big bonus. Just made one last night, and it cooked itself while I mowed the lawn!

                        2. I have the weird All-Clad gizmo, and I love it! I usually fill the little cup with dry vermouth. The chicken comes out perfect every time, and if you put some potatoes underneath, they will bathe in the yummy juices.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: pikawicca

                            pikawikka: I'm not doubting you. I'm sure it works very well...

                            But $250 for a detachable perch/arm? Did you already have a roasting pan and a rack? What's next for AC, a special pan to hold a spit that doesn't turn? We're all doomed.

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Well, it's also a very nice roasting pan, and mine was not great. If you already have a roasting pan that you like, this would not be a sensible purchase.

                              1. re: pikawicca

                                The arm IS a nice add-on. Someone should market one that clamps to the roaster. For about $25.

                                The photo at W-S's site makes it look like the Magic Levitating Chicken!

                          2. I use an old angel food cake pan. I started out using a beer can sitting in a roasting pan. Only problem was that some times I'd knock it over getting it out of the oven and make a mess. One day I was digging around in our cabinets and found an angel food pan that had not been used in 20 years. I just put some HD foil over the opening in center tube and I'm good to go.

                            1. Since we started to butterfly chickens before roasting we don't see a need for any roasting device other than a wire rack. All of those different roasting unitaskers are really unnecessary.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: John E.

                                John: Do you French them or spatchcock?

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  We spatchcock them. I'm not exactly sure what 'Frenching' a chicken means other than a trimmed, split breast with the wing attacked.

                                  1. re: John E.

                                    That's what I do also. I did beer can chicken once and didn't find it that much better than my other methods.

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      John E: Here is a discussion of, along with photos showing, the difference:


                                  2. re: John E.

                                    My v-rack folds AND adjusts, and I find myself using the dumb thing all the time.

                                  3. I've tried most of the methods mentioned here and short of adding butter beneath the skin, this is the best and easiest method I've found for roasting the perfect bird. I've used it both in my oven and on the grill. You can fill the tube with whatever liquid you'ld like and the meat comes out moist and the skin crispy.


                                    1. I have a couple of cone-roasters, neither of which were very expensive. I adore them, and rarely cook a chicken any other way. I use the same ones on the BBQ and in the oven. In the oven, I put the roaster on a jelly roll pan so I don't make a mess. If you have it, I owuld turn on the convection. Super easy, and I make sure to spread the legs away from the body so the inner thigh cooks at roughly the same time as the breast.

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: CanadaGirl

                                        Do you find the liquid in the tube really does boil? When I do the beer can method , it barely get warm , I can pull the can out with bare hands and it's just as full as when I put it in.

                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                          I don't know if it boils, but it us very hot when I pull out the chicken. I need to use a pot holder to put the can in the sink or I get burned.

                                          1. re: Dave5440

                                            Even if it boils what boils off is water.
                                            I have not done any personal side by side taste test but I think ATK said beer did not add any flavor and you could just as well use water.

                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                              I use OJ in the can when I do it, most of the time I just set the chicken on the holder and put OJ in the pan

                                            2. re: Dave5440

                                              The article I linked to below shows the beer itself does absolutely nothing except slow the process down, so even using water is worse than using a plain vertical rack.

                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                I read the article, and while I believe they had their results, it is not even close to what I've experienced. Whenever I roast a chicken vertically over beer, it turns out perfectly. I've done it both in the oven and on the griill. I even had perfect results the time I got distracted and took two chickens off the grill when the breast was 195 (!!); still juicy.

                                                I've never tried it without liquid, but the vertical part, at least is my experience, works amazingly well.

                                                1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                  I think you may have missed the point. They said that while the chicken comes out nicely using the beer can method, it is a PITA and the temperature of the beer never does get high enough to have any affect upon the chicken.

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    I don't think I missed the point. I know they said the beer doesn't matter, and I've got no side by side tests to say it does, but they also seem to be saying that the standing it up part has results no better than other cooking methods. On this I strongly disagree. I have spatchcocked chicken, and I agree it's faster, but I prefer the results of the beer can chicken method. Maybe it's just me, but I've managed to mess up every other method of roasting chicken :)

                                                    1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                      I do not find the results better than butterflying. I decided to give up the beer can chicken about 5 years ago when I was carrying two of them into the house on a 1/2 sheet pan and they slid off the pan and onto the floor because of the balabcing act required. If I were to use the method again I certainly would use one of the manufactured devices with a large base. I suppose the big mess was enough to affect my desire to sacrifice a beer.

                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                        (reply to you, since I can't hit "reply all")

                                                        Might the recommendation come from the fact that a full (or nearly so) beer can is heavier...and thus less likely to keel over than an empty one?

                                                        Just a thought...

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          I did not use an empty can. The beer also spilled a little into the cavity of the chicken. I grabbed the quickly without thinking and the hot chocken did burn mmy hands. The link established and I concur that tge beer never really gets hot enough for any appreciable amount to steam away. I do agree that the beer can chicken is not akways a stable operation. I just yave found that the results are not worth the trouble. I would bet that if someone were offered roasted chicken from a beer can chicken or a butterfly roasted chicken they likely could not tell the difference without guessing.

                                          2. Hands down for me is the Zuni Cafe roast chicken, bread salad optional. CI skillet, one turn only.


                                            I used a vertical roaster for about 20 years and the Zuni one is far better. Haven't tried Keller's yet.

                                            1. I have 2. One is from NapaStyle and it's a one piece unit. The other is Rosle and it's the cooler item. It is designed to hold your seasonings or beer to infuse into the bird while it cooks, it's stainless steel, and has a removable long handle that you can use on the outdoor grill or oven. I set it into a cast iron skillet or just a half sheet pan for the oven, depending if I roast veggies or not along with it. The latter, Rosle, is on clearance at WS right now or at least was last week for less than 20 bucks. It's small, easy to store, has a removable handle, is stainless steel, dishwasher safe, and has that cup to hold whatever in it as well as the bird. Can't go wrong with that one. My NapaStyle cocorico (as it's called) takes up more space but they do have a good recipe at their website. Search "cocorico."

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: riverwalk

                                                Thanks for the info. The Rösle is no longer available at W-S, but Amazon sells it for $20.

                                              2. Without question, these things give me the best results:


                                                They make them in sizes from Turkey all the way down to game hen, and I have several of each.

                                                There's a great article I just read, linked to on another CH post, that shows the whole beer can thing is just a myth, and the beer itself does absolutely nothing:


                                                Fascinating reading.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: acgold7

                                                  I was glad to read the information contained in your link. It confirms the conlusion I came to and about which I posted last December. To achieve juicy poultry that cooks at a faster rate than does 'beer can chicken', brine and butterfly your birds. 

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    I rarely brine a bird but I do butterfly them in most cases.

                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                      Me, too, and roast at very high temp (450) or grill on low under a brick.

                                                2. My favorite is the Römertopf chicken roaster, I have been using it for years. There is no need to turn the chicken or baste it and it comes out perfect every time.
                                                  (Btw your link shows a juicer.)

                                                  1. I hate unitaskers, so I use a bundt pan. Put your veggies in the pan, violate the chicken on the tube, and roast away. I always put a cookie sheet undeneath the pan just in case of drippage, but I've never had any. I just hate cleaning the oven, so I take precautions against it. :)

                                                    1. I read about this technique somewhere - can't remember: take your v-roasting rack and turn it upside down (if possible.) Butterfly your bird and drape it over the rack and roast it that way. It will cook thoroughly underneath because there's air passing through, and the bird will get crispy on the outside and cook evenly.

                                                      I haven't tried this myself because I'd need to buy a different v-rack, as mine has handles that will make it wobble. But, this method is next on my agenda for trying something different. If anyone has tried this, please let me know how it worked. Thanks.

                                                      1. Okay, just realized that one of those reversible rib grilling racks would probably work, although it's not a v, it's more a u. Still, it might work.

                                                        1. How about a halogen oven:


                                                          I got my first one last year, and now I hardly ever roast any meat any other way. Great results for chicken (and especially pork belly) every time, and simple clean-up. They are microwave prices and use loads less power than a conventional oven, so now I've got two.

                                                          1. The thing with these vertical roasters is that it cooks the chicken breast side up and the breast gets dry.

                                                            When I roast, horizontally btw, I cook it 75% with the breast down, so the juices run down into it and it stays juicy. Then I turn it over for the last 25% of the cooking time breast side up so it can brown.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: pdxgastro

                                                              I always assumed that was true as well, but I found that because so much heat is conducted inside the cavity (unlike those using a beer can) the bird cooks very quickly and doesn't have time to dry out. My experience using these with all birds is that the white meat stays much moister than cooking the bird horizontally. But again, this is using simple wire versions with no liquid or cans, beer or otherwise.

                                                              There are some tricks, though. If you push the chicken down really well, the legs will splay outward a little, speeding up the cooking rate for the dark meat. And by placing the chicken as close to the over floor as you can, you can take the bird out of the oven when the white meat hits 150F and both the white and dark meat will be fully cooked and very juicy.

                                                              I also use the breast-down trick when roasting horizontally, and it does work great.