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Dec 6, 2010 02:14 PM

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

W-S vertical chicken roaster

Römertopf chicken roaster

Or with this?

All-Clad ultimate chicken roaster


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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 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!