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Roasted chicken

On that note, I must state that I refuse to eat any chicken that is not a high grade, free range, organic chicken. I get mine from Whole Foods. They cost twice as much as a mass produced factory bird, but are SO much better tasting and better for you.

I use a method taught to me by a cranky old Chinese guy who was a masterful cook: cut the back out of the bird; rub some oil on it and season it to your liking; put it in a pre-heated 450 degree oven on a high rack allowing heat to surround the bird; once one side is well browned, flip it and turn off the oven. Walk away and just let the bird continue to cook as the oven cools. Threaten death to anyone who would attempt to open the oven for an hour. It always comes out phenomenally cooked inside and out.

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  1. EarlyBird, Thanks. I'm going to try your cooking method next time.

    With the back cut out, the chicken is butterflied and lies flat? I am guessing you start cooking the chicken skin side down and then flip to skin side up. Correct? And is the skin crispy?

    What size chickens do you usually cook? I like to buy and roast chickens with more meat -- around 5 lbs. Do you think any changes have to be made to this cooking method for a bigger bird?

    10 Replies
    1. re: Norm Man

      Hi Norm,

      Yes, I'm referring to a butterflied bird, laying flat (on a flat rack, not a "V" rack) with the little wing tips tucked under. I start breast up, so that when I flip it over it is breast down. At least in theory it might get a bit more juicy that way, but surely it doesn't matter which side you start on.

      I also have learned to try to keep the birds rather small, not much larger than 4 lbs. I find that it helps keep it crispier that way. If you want to go with the 5 pounder, I don't think you would need to adjust any of the method or times, however.

      I have to say, this comes out so well, and is basically fool proof. The keys are very high oven temp, a rack which keeps the bird well off the bottom of the pan, dry heat (no water in the pan), and once you flip the bird and turn the oven off, do not let anyone so much as peak at the bird because you will lose the heat. It's just "about" an hour of cooling oven time, and it will be PERFECT.

      One warning: you will create a lot of smoke as the chicken fat hits the bottom of the pan. Open windows, get fans going, etc.

      1. re: EarlyBird

        Thanks for the info, EarlyBird. (This part of the thread has been cut from the Los Angeles Board and moved to this board).

        Approximately how many minutes does the chicken brown before flipping?

        I know most cooks go by looks rather than time. I like to use both -- the time kind of confirms my eyes.

        1. re: Norm Man

          For very nicely browned, crispy delicious chicken, I also butterfly it, rub it with melted butter (improves browning) and lots of kosher salt and pepper. Roast at 450 for one hour for a small to medium bird. I often lay the bird out atop halved onions, some carrots with thyme, salt and pepper and olive oil, leeks, fennel wedges.

          1. re: mcf

            I get really crispy delicious chicken without butterflying, which i feel is a PIA. I rub with oo, salt and pepper, put in skillet heated ten min in 450 oven , cook 55 min for q 3.5 to 4 lb bird. Perfect every time.

            1. re: magiesmom

              Butterflyting takes maybe 3 minutes, tops. I do it because I want every inch of skin crisped up, no soggy bottom. You could probably get a whole bird crisp on a vertical roaster, too.

              1. re: mcf

                I'm not even sure if I'm using the term "butterflying" correctly. I just use kitchen shears and snip the back out of the bird, and put it in the freezer for stock. It's really quite simple. I think the difference is that it allows more heat to get to the bird on both sides.

                1. re: EarlyBird

                  That's what I do, too, usually, and I also cut the leg skin a bit so they flop farther from the body. I also like to remove the breast bone. If I'm lazy, I just flatten it to break it.

                  I do it for the all over crisp skin, and also love grilling it whole, half the year.

          2. re: Norm Man

            Please I'd like to know too, approx. how long before turning over?

            1. re: Atochabsh

              Earlybird's method is similar to the Cook's Illustrated high temperature roasting method, which also calls for a butterflied bird. They cook at 500F and say cook until the thickest part of the breast reaches 160F, which for them was about 40 minutes. I tried that and it did take about 40 minutes, but the result was a bit dry, possibly because I used a large roasting hen and the temperature carried over to 170+ after taking the bird out of the oven.

              So if I wasn't using a thermometer, for a typical 3.5-4 lb chicken I would guess 30 minutes at 500F. I used to roast at 425F, but hotter definitely is better if you want crisp skin. CI found that putting sliced potatoes in the roasting pan below the rack prevents smoke and produces an excellent side dish and I can testify to that. The chicken was just ok, but the potatoes were fantastic.

              But I don't see the point of flipping the bird (Insert joke here, but really, I don't see the point).

              1. re: Atochabsh

                I just keep it on screaming hot for 15 to 20 minutes. The heat I have in my oven makes it very well browned on one side by this time. Depending on the oven you have, times may vary, but if you've got a window and a light in your oven, just look at it from there.

                I then just flip the bird and turn off the oven and guard it for the next hour. It will come out beautifully crisp, while being succulent inside. Do please let it rest after cooking for a good 15 minutes as Diane suggests below.

        2. Your method seems somewhat similar to what I do, though I sometimes remove the breasts for later use and actually cut out the breast + breastbone and leave the spine in tact. I try to get chickens under 3.8 lbs. I do start them off on the stovetop skin side down though, after a few min on the stovetop I flip the bird THEN slide it in my hot oven until done. Works great with a cast iron, carbon steel or SS tri ply pan.

          The reason your whole foods birds taste better has to do with the air chilling. I find that free range birds that have been water chilled don't taste as good as air chilled birds, and I have a sneaking suspicion that a non-free range air chilled bird will also be rather yummy. Nothing like a ~3.5lb bell and evans air chilled chicken cooked in an oven under high heat.....yum.

          1. The method you describe is called butterflying a bird or spatchcocking it. It can be used for any size poultry. After last Thanksgiving's success, I will be using it for turkey in the future as well. If you do this frequently, it pays to invest in a good pair of kitchen shears. To cut out the turkey backbone, I needed another set of hands. Don't throw the backbones away. Accumulate them until you have enough to make chicken stock. I like to lay slices of lemon, fresh rosemary and chunks of onion underneath the bird.

            Have never had a problem with not crispy chicken skin even on a larger bird, but then I have a convection oven and I set it to "roast" so the heating element is from the top.

            While I like to roast 6-7 lb. whole chickens when I am having company for dinner, I would increase the amount of time for cooking. Another key to phenomenal roasted chicken is to let it rest for 15-20 min before carving.

            1. Gotta love cranky old Chinese guys. I tried this last night. Juicy! Including the breast. The only downside was that the skin wasn't as crisp as I would have liked. I'm going to try to start bone side up and then flip to skin side up and see how that works.

              3 Replies
              1. re: JAB

                That's great, JAB. I don't know how hot your oven is. I work with an ancient (like from the '50s) gas oven and I have found that 450 is perfect. You may need to go as high as 500 like some respondents suggest. I would try it again a few times to see if you can perfect it using your specific kitchen equipment. I've also seen things like salting the bird overnight and letting it air dry in the fridge (because moisture is the enemy of crisp).

                Diane's on to something with her convection oven, letting the bird sit (I forgot to mention that), and YES save up the backs in the freezer to use them for stock.

                1. re: JAB

                  Bone side up to start didn't do it as far as crisping the skin however, the chicken was just as moist and juicy. It was better the way that EarlyBird stated originally. Skin side up to start produced a really nice crispy skin but, it didn't remain crispy. I'll try 500 and with no flip to see how those would work.

                  1. re: JAB

                    I use 450 and no flip; get very crisp skin. Skin side down will not remain crispy, as a rule, it'll kind of baste itself.

                2. I have tried probably seven different methods of roasting chicken and every single one comes out moist on the inside, crispy on the outside. So I have stopped experimenting and just do .... whatever. I always use chickens I buy from a local farmer, and the smallest he has. Maybe that's the key, more than the method.

                  1. I also will try this! I am a roast chicken fanatic.

                    I have my own way of roasting a chicken with preserved lemons I think is pretty perfect. But I must confess that lately, I've become obsessed with Marcella Hazen's Roast Chicken with Two Lemons. It is the easiest recipe I've ever tried and it is incredibly, incredibly good:

                    http://www.wchstv.com/gmarecipes/roas...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Tom P

                      That looks great, Tom. Thanks for the link.

                      1. re: Tom P

                        This recipe reminds me of a Giada recipe; Garlic and Citrus chicken, that I have used sucessfully in the oven and on the BBQ grill. I have not made the sauce included in the recipe (though I'm sure its good). But it is very simple.

                        1. re: Tom P

                          My favorite too, especially lucky to have a lemon tree in my yard. My other way is to use limes, its equally as good. High heat, and little fussing, not extra fat, just salt and pepper and lemon juice.
                          http://www.flickr.com/photos/7220939@...