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Fear of a Roast Chicken

I can competently handle pork shoulder, short ribs, chicken thighs, meatloaf, lamb curry, beef stew, and all manner of soups. However, show me a whole raw chicken and I sigh, give up, and poach the damn thing for chicken salad and soup. I would love to be able to throw it in the oven with a minimum of fuss, not fill my kitchen with smoke, and end up with something reasonably tasty that won't kill anyone. Is that too much to ask?

Please share your most basic, easy, moderate-temperature roast chicken tips. I have no burning desire for crisp, browned skin (well, alright, I do, but I'll happily give that up for an easy technique and no smoke pouring out of the oven). I have a meat thermometer, but I must be using it wrong, because I'm often left with red juice in the cavity and raw-looking pink meat at the center of the thighs even after it reads "done."

Help me, chowhounds, you're my only hope.

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  1. Never had much luck with moderate temperature roasts; the breast ends up dry and the thighs undercooked. Thomas Keller's recipe is bulletproof. I've done it dozens of times and it always comes out perfect.

    http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2010/01...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWLt6G...

    2 Replies
    1. re: monkeyrotica

      Gotta second this. It's KISS and ofh so good.

      1. re: mike0989

        Third! It's spectacular, and absolutely foolproof!

    2. Really? You have all those dishes in your rep and the lonely roasted chicken eludes you?! Tartinet, I think you can nail this bird!

      One of my standbys is a to place the whole bird in a large roasting pan, slather with a quick tasty glaze. Place a sliced lemon and a few garlic cloves in the cavity and roast per lb instructions.

      The glaze consists of:
      •1/2 cup Chinese hoisin sauce
      •1/2 cup Chinese soy sauce
      •1/4 cup each honey and Chinese duck or plum sauce
      •1/4 cup each dry sherry and cider vinegar
      •5 large cloves garlic
      whirled in a food processor.

      If you are concerned about a dry bird, use a roaster bag or foil for the first 30 mins. than remove it and continue roasting until the thigh leg bleeds clear when pricked.

      Moist, tender, some lovely skin (your bonus). It's simple.

      14 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        I know, HillJ, I feel like a dope that this eludes me! Thanks for your recipe-- what do you mean by "roast per lb instructions" Remember, I'm a dope-- I need specifics! :-)

        1. re: Tartinet

          oh, every chicken has cooking instructions on the wrapper. Good guidepost for per lb temp and roasting times....which can vary.

          1. re: HillJ

            Really? I can't believe I've never noticed the cooking instructions on the wrapper! Mark me down points on attention to detail, wow.

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Unless it's a bird you've bought from a butcher...I can't think of a commercial bird wrapped in brand-label that doesn't have instructions on or in the pkg.

              1. re: HillJ

                I just checked the wrapper--- and the only cooking advice my supermarket chicken offers is, very helpfully, "cook thoroughly."

                Ah, well then, chicken carpaccio is off the list! :-)

                1. re: Tartinet

                  Really?! Then, color me corrected! I have never run into a non instructional label. First time for everything, Tartinet. Thank goodness you have CH's to help you along!

          2. re: Tartinet

            Congrats on nailing that roasted bird, T! The skies the limit now!

            1. re: HillJ

              Thanks for your help! Next up-- finally learning how to toss pizza dough in the air... ;-)

              1. re: Tartinet

                Awesome! Learning how to churn out homemade pizza deserves its own thread!

          3. re: HillJ

            Adding 5 spice to the above would make it GREAT. I also adda bit of sesame oil.

            1. re: Westy

              This reminds me of a 5-spice roast chicken recipe I saw on chow yesterday. http://www.chow.com/recipes/11076-fiv...

              ~TDQ

              1. re: Westy

                Btwn the hoisin, soy & duck sauce I tend to save the sesame oil and five spice for other recipes. The bird roasts to a nice golden brown color and doesn't need extra oil or add'l spice. Now if we were talkin pork ribs, I'd be all over that suggestion!

                1. re: HillJ

                  That reminds me to resurrect the baste I remember from the Frugal Gourmet. He was visiting with a gentleman (Italian nobility?) who prepared a roast chicken, brushing it periodically with a mix of equal amounts honey, toasted sesame oil, and soy sauce. Incredibly tasty, mahogany-brown skin. I don't recall what temp he used but I would assume no more than 350, lest the honey burn.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    mahogany-brown chicken skin!!! my favorite!

            2. Thomas Keller's "My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken" Easy and delicious. You don't even have to truss the bird if you don't want (just tuck it artfully) http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

              And I never bother with the thyme, mustard, or butter either.

              Make sure you orient your chicken the way he does in the photo.

              ETA: haha, I see the first poster in this thread also recommended a Keller recipe. I'm sorry it's not moderate temp, though, but the technique is easy and I've never had a smoke problem.

              ~TDQ

              8 Replies
              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I second this completely (including not bothering with the thyme or butter). I swear there isn't a better method out there for roasting a chicken, it is seriously perfect EVERY time! I generally have a hard time finding chickens that small, so I usually have to go a little longer on the time, but with no detriment to the chicken.

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  i totally 3rd this, 100%. i do truss, but i often don't do the thyme, mustard or butter. ditto on no smoke problem. perfect chicken every time.

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I do this also but add the Lemons a la Hazan but cook at Kellers temp and no flipping..

                    1. re: King of Northern Blvd

                      I've been meaning to do hybrid with just popping a lemon into the cavity and proceeding with the Keller recipe, but I wondered if that would result in steaming the chicken, which Keller desperately wants you to avoid (hence his requirement to pat the bird down prior to cooking...)

                      Do you think the hybrid Hazan/Keller approach compromised the crispy skin?

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Not at all. I just use one lemon if I have one laying around. I haven't noticed a difference in skin at all. I do salt and leave the chicken uncovered in the fridge all day though.

                        1. re: King of Northern Blvd

                          Sounds like the best of all worlds. I'm definitely going to try that.Thanks for tip.

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Forgot to add that I also take that pieces of fat that are near the tail and place them under the skin on top of the breasts. I usually save the breast meat for the kids and we eat the dark meat. Please post back if you find any compromise in skin crispiness.

                            1. re: King of Northern Blvd

                              Will do. What a clever idea re: that tail fat!

                              ~TDQ

                  2. You may, as you reported, be using the meat thermometer incorrectly. Poultry temperatures are taken at the thickest part of the thigh or where the thigh meets the breast but the thermometer should not touch the bone.
                    Here are some guidelines that may prove helpful in that regard:
                    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/is_it_done_y...
                    When roasting a chicken, make sure it's resting on a rack or a layer of vegetables and that there's always some amount of water in the bottom of the roasting pan while the bird is in the oven.
                    I like HILLJ's suggestions, especially the roasting bag. If you've never used on of those you might want to try that. Just keep it away from the edges of the roasting pan while baking and read the directions for use carefully.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: todao

                      To clarify your excellent advice just in case the OP doesn't realize the reason for it, the vegetables and water in the pan will prevent smoking. An added benefit is that they flavor the drippings, for ease in making gravy or pan sauce. Another option, if you don't want to make either, is to put a layer of salt on the bottom of the pan, and use a rack so the chicken isn't sitting on the salt.

                      I'd suggest starting simple, a la Sara Moulton: 4.5 pound chicken, 450 degrees, 45 minutes. Easy.

                    2. If the crispy skin is not important to you, then my first suggestion would be to spatchcock the chicken...or simply cut in half. This way, the poultry will cook faster and more evenly placed on a rack. If you do wish for crispy skin, then all you need to do is place the chicken under the broiler.

                      Another alternative is to simply bake cut up seasoned chicken in a shallow dish....with or without liquids/marinades. You can add things like root vegetables or peppers later on in the same dish or a separate one.

                      For baked chicken, I usually set the temperature @ 350-375* with no smoking issues and grease splattering.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: fourunder

                        But...but....but fourunder! The crispy skin is the BEST PART!!! :-)

                        And keeping it simple is the best for the OP. Branch out with "other stuff" later. Oil the skin, salt and pepper it, maybe put a half lemon inside the cavity (salt and pepper in there, too), put Miss Birdie into a roasting pan and cook at about 375°, basting once or twice, for about 20 min. per lb. (rough guesstimate, depending on your oven). Add an additional 10-15 minutes, if needed.

                        Use an instant read thermometer and check in the meatiest part of the breast meat (don't touch the bone with the probe) until it's at about 165°. Take it out and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Temp will continue to rise a bit.

                        Another method is initial high heat - preheat to 450° and roast for about 15-20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350° and finish roasting @ 20 min. / lb. (without the extra 10-15 minutes added at the end).

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          Another method is initial high heat - preheat to 450° and roast for about 15-20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350° and finish roasting @ 20 min. / lb. (without the extra 10-15 minutes added at the end).

                          I do this when I roast my chickens. Also, no herbs, no butter, no nothin'. Breast side down always. Turn off oven after the 20 min per lb is up, and leave the bird in the closed oven for about another half hour. Breast is juicy and tasty, crispy brown skin on the back, thighs falling off the bone, and oysters to die for.

                      2. Heat an iron skillet in a 450 oven, when it is hot put a chicken coated with oiive oil , coarse salt and pepper in it, cook 55 minutes. If the juice runs clear when you tip it, it is done . If not, cook 5-8 more minutes. rest 10 minutes . carve. Never fails.

                        You can put a half lemon inside and squeeze the juice on it while it rests.

                        1. I'm not a skin eater so I cook them breast side down and then flip it not long before its done (I cook them on a bed of veggies so the skin does not stick to the pan and tear when flipping,) to crisp up the skin if the man wants it that way.

                          The one single dry chicken I've ever made was using a probe thermometer. It was returned to the store the next day. A small slit between the thigh and breast to see if the juices are running clear is all I've found I need. (I also do the high heat method, by the way.)

                          1. To prevent smoke, pour about 1/2 cup of water or stock in the pan before roasting.
                            I use a shallow Pyrex dish lined with foil and the skin is still crispy enough for me.
                            I tip out the red "juice" about halfway through the cooking.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: iluvcookies

                              I think that ruins the skin.

                            2. I have had a lot more success at roasting my chickens since I increased the temperature to 425-450 but I see you do not want to cook beyond a moderate temperature. Could you cook it at 350 but wrap it in parchment paper leaving the ends opened? I have done this for turkey and it works like a charm. As well I really like the Barefoot Contessa's recipe for her roasted chicken it is really easy to make and is always moist and tender. Link below:
                              http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                I like the high temp chicken, but...if you ahve honey or sugar inthe rub/marinade/glaze, i will definitely scorch....

                              2. Marcella Hazan's Chicken with Two Lemons is my go-to recipe. It's as simple as can be and always turns out great.

                                http://fbrecipegroup.blogspot.com/201...

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Christina D

                                  Hazan's Chicken with Two Lemons is exactly what I was going to recommend. It does always turn out great. I've recommended it to a friend who had never roasted a whole chicken and had a similar fear as the OP, and it turned out great for her.

                                  This NPR link has a verbatim reprint from the book, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The only thing I do differently is that I do squeeze the lemons over the carved chicken - just use tongs and do it carefully and it's no problem.

                                  http://www.npr.org/2010/12/28/1322278...

                                  1. re: Christina D

                                    This.

                                    Buy two lemons. Stick in bird. Salt and olive oil under the skin. Done. No need to ensure it's totally dry. No need to buy herbs or anything other than two lemons. In other words, it's simpler than Keller's and foolproof.

                                    1. re: fame da lupo

                                      Nearly a dead ringer for Nigel Slater's recipe. I believe he adds a few herbs as well.

                                  2. We've used the Jamie Oliver recipe from "Naked Chef" since it came out. He slashes the legs so the heat can get in. Roasts at 220 for about 70 minutes - giving it 5 minutes on one side, then 5 minutes on the other and the remainder with it sat on its back.

                                    Of course chickens vary in size but this is for a pretty much standard sized one.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Harters

                                      220 celsius I assume...

                                      ~TDQ

                                    2. What could be easier than Thomas Keller's Favorite Roast chicken? Other posters have recommended it, and for good reason. Rinse (if you do so to fowl) and dry the chicken, salt & pepper the cavity, truss or just tie the legs together, rain salt down on the chicken (like a tablespoon), pepper to taste, roast at 450 for about an hour, depending on the size.

                                      That is all you need to do. This chicken is the chicken-est tasting chicken I've made. And you can then gild the lily by putting minced fresh thyme in the pan juices once the chicken is removed from the oven, and basting the chicken with the juices before letting it rest. Oh, baby, the thyme is great, but then again, the bird is great without it and it adds a fussy step that can be skipped.

                                      And once I tried the chicken with the thyme, and loved it, I figured maybe there is something to the butter and mustard bit too. My verdict is that the mustard and butter detract from the goodness of the chicken. Tried it, once is enough. As for the thyme, I add it about every third roast chicken I make.

                                      Really, does it get any easier than seasoning and putting it in the oven? It hardly gets better!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: janniecooks

                                        I just want to echo what everyone else is saying about the Keller roast chicken. It completely changed my outlook on how easy it was to do a whole bird. The other methods suggested here may also work, but when you've got a super-easy method endorsed by one of the best, most exacting chefs on the planet, I think you've got to at least give it a try.

                                        Make sure that chicken is dry, inside and out. Like, a paper towel comes away not even damp and the various folds are dry -- that dry. You want all the heat to go into cooking the chicken, not making steam.

                                      2. Here's a tip: avoid large chickens - look for chickens 3-4 lbs in weight.

                                        One of the greatest causes of roast chicken mischief is people assuming that recipes designed for 3-4lb birds will work just as well for 5-7 lb birds. Smaller birds run less risk of having the overdone/underdone meat disparity. (For this very same reason, parts from small birds work best for deep-frying...)

                                        And the gold standard for easy wonderful roast chicken that does not involve high heat is Marcella Hazan's Roast Chicken with Two Lemons, as noted above.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Karl S

                                          100% agree with Karl S... I've had much more success with chicken that weights under 4 lbs than over 4.5 lbs.

                                          One thing I like to do is to salt the chicken a day ahead a la zuni chicken method. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this yet.

                                          http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/1...

                                          If you can plan ahead, I highly recommend this. You can skip the herbs part if you want (I personally do not), just look at the recipe for the basic cooking method... it's amazing.

                                          1. re: darrentran87

                                            That's my go to chicken recipe too. Only I've given up all the flipping which is a pain and yields only a modest increase in juiciness on the breast. I just roast it breast up. And I often tip a bunch of teeny potatoes into the pan about 30 minutes in.

                                        2. I am always amazed at cooks who are mystified, or need a fancy recipe for baked chicken. My Mom made one almost every Sunday of my young life, and this method works for me. Start basic, then fancy up if you want. As mentioned by another poster, smallish, 3-4 pound chicken. Line a 9x13 cake pan with foil (easy cleanup). Put some kind of rack on top of cake pan. Rinse and salt & pepper chicken (my Mom did not discover herbs till I was 25). Place breast up on rack with legs and wings in natural position, no need for string, etc. Put in 375 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours. Poke with sharp knife near thigh or wiggle leg to check for doneness. Skin is crispy, chicken is moist and delicious. Stick herbs, lemon, whatever into cavity if you want to get fancier. Seriously. Keep it simple and it should be fine.

                                          1. Re the use of small chickens, do you avoid making a roasted chicken for a large party or do you make several small birds?

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              Using several small birds is probably easier if you've already got a technique you like for smaller birds. That said, you can get pretty good results cooking a large bird. It's just trickier, and some of the most popular methods on CH (the keller method, & the zuni method which is similar) don't work as well for large birds.

                                              For bigger birds, I prefer using two temperatures - very high either at the beginning or end of cooking to crisp and brown the skin, and significantly lower for most of the cooking process to ensure more even doneness and keep the bird from drying out. Basting can be useful for a larger bird to enhance the flavor of the skin. A probe thermometer is especially helpful. Brining can also be helpful, but isn't strictly necessary.

                                              One of the upsides of cooking a larger bird is it gives you more options for cooking vegetables and such at the same time, often flavored by the juices of the chicken.

                                              Apologies if this is info you already know.

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                I find a roast chicken will feed 2-4 people depending on sides. 6 if you really aren't eating much meat at all. If I have a large group I would either make turkey or multiple chickens. Have not seen at 8 lb chicken.

                                                1. re: melpy

                                                  I appreciate both replies, cowboy & melpy. I really did wonder about the reasoning. Mostly due to the fact that I try to get a few meals out of one bird..lending itself to time-saving menus and leftovers (which I love). The only reason I would go with a smaller bird, and at that point I'd buy capon or cornish game hen would be for a recipe requiring individual portions (ie: one bird per person). Thank you for the reply.

                                              2. To help the chicken good evenly you should spatchcock or butterfly it by removing the back bone and flattening it out. This allows the bird to cook more evenly

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                  For someone who wants minimum fuss, cutting a chicken in half is a bit of a task. Though, once you do it once, the second time is easy and you expand your options. Broiling a butterflied chicken is genius -- crispiest skin of all time. Again, see Marcella Hazan on this one -- her pollo al diavolo is flavor country.

                                                  1. re: fame da lupo

                                                    At the least, with a pair of kitchen sheers cut up both sides of the back bone and your done

                                                    Yeah I knew that wasn't he most simple prep but makes cooking, timing and carving easier when it's flat

                                                2. Have family member, a 30-something, who has only recently (over past 4 years or so... kids came along) even attempted to cook. She wanted to be a SAHM, but thought she couldn't afford to do that?!? Her pre-baby job was an aide in a pre-school... pay... minimal. After looking at numbers... pay v child care costs... pretty much a no-brainer. Money would be tighter if she went back to work... a lose/lose situation. BUT I strongly suggested she either toss the kitchen drawer full of take-out menus or at least use them sparingly... and START TO COOK!

                                                  She had NEVER cooked a whole chicken... maybe not even a cut up one as parts?!? I convinced her that she didn't have to do very much to get a tasty chicken... even if just generous S&P and into oven. Wanted to know how to know if it's done? Told her don't go by a pop-up thingie, use an instant read thermometer, or use my method (how my grandmother always did it). When legs/thighs and wings are wiggling freely, and any juice in cavity is clear (not pink)... it's probably done.

                                                  1. Tartinet:
                                                    I use Jacques Pépin's recipe for basic roast chicken from his "Essential Pépin" cookbook...see below. Before cooking the bird, I typically unwrap it and let it sit in the refrigerator for a day so as to dry out the skin a bit. This really helps brown the skin much easier than just drying it with a paper towel beforehand. As in other recipes mentioned in this thread, I let the bird come to room temperature as well…I give mine an hour. Also, I get the smaller Amish chickens, usually weighing about 3 to 4 lbs.

                                                    By using Jacques' method of roasting the bird on each side for 20 mins, I ensure that the legs will cook slightly faster/hotter than the breast, which is a great way to overcome the fact that legs are done at 160º but the breast meat is finished at 10º less -- 150º. I truss the bird, and this additionally helps to balance it in the cast iron skillet that use to cook it in.

                                                    Also, regarding your "smoking oven" issue, I have had a similar occurrence, and attribute it to all that sizzling chicken fat that cooking produces. I now make sure my oven is nice and clean before roasting a bird: sounds simple, but it may help.

                                                    • One 3 1/2-pound chicken
                                                    • Salt and ground pepper to taste

                                                    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle the chicken inside and out with the salt and pepper and either truss the bird or fold the wings akimbo to position them closer to the body. Place the chicken on its side in a skillet, preferably nonstick; it will tilt slightly so that the breast moves downward and the back is exposed. If the skillet has a plastic or bakelite handle, wrap it with a few layers of aluminum foil to protect it.
                                                    2. Place the chicken on it's side in the skillet in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, then turn the chicken over on it's opposite side and cook another 20 minutes. (By cooking the chicken on its sides, the juices stay in the breast and, since only the back is exposed, the chicken does not need constant basting.) Finally, turn the chicken onto its back, baste it with the cooking juices and continue to cook 10 minutes. It should be golden in color.
                                                    3. Let the bird rest for 15 minutes before serving.

                                                    Serves 4

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Dansky

                                                      +1 for Jacques Pepin. I use a slightly different version he published in a TV series companion book. I also use a cast iron skillet rather than a nonstick, as there is no problem with chemical breakdown in the oven and cleanup is a cinch.

                                                      Dry, s&p season, oil. Brown on high heat on stove: 3 minutes on back, 2 minutes one side, 2 minutes other side. Place in 450 degree oven, 20 minutes on the same side. Turn onto other side, 20 minutes. Turn onto back, breast up, 10 minutes. Remove from oven to carving board, rest 10 minutes uncovered (preserves skin crispness) while making your choice of pan gravy. Carve and serve. Works perfectly for 3-3.5 lb chicken.

                                                    2. Thank you everyone-- I'm feeling much more hopeful! Although, I still need to be patient. I unwrapped the chicken and it's all icy inside. An hour out of the fridge won't do it.

                                                      So, I dried and de-gibleted it and stuck it in the fridge to dry out overnight. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow night!

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Tartinet

                                                        If you're letting it thaw overnight you might as well salt it now, too, a la Zuni.

                                                        1. re: Tartinet

                                                          If you are in a hurry, prop the chicken up in your sink so that lukewarm water runs directly into the cavity and this will thaw it ASAP. It is what we used to do in pre-microwave days.

                                                          1. re: Tartinet

                                                            >>"I'm often left with red juice in the cavity and raw-looking pink meat at the center of the thighs even after it reads "done.""

                                                            Others can correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall reading on other posts that this can happen (even though the bird is fully cooked) when the chicken is still too cold when placed in the oven. even though you've had it drying in the fridge overnight, as others have said, I'd let it come to to room temp before cooking.

                                                          2. You are making this too hard. 1) If you line the pan with aluminum foil, cleanup will be easier.
                                                            2) Wash the chicken. Check the inside for giblets or lingering liver and kidney bits and remove them if you don't like the flavor. Rinse out the chicken. 3) Lay chicken in pan, breast side up. 4) Put chicken in 350* oven. 5) Leave it there for 60-90 minutes depending on size of chicken. 5) To see if meat is done, stick meat thermometer into thick part of breast. 6) That's it. If you are concerned about the meat getting too dry, put a cover on the pan for the first half of cooking

                                                            1. hmm, never had too much of an issue going the simple route: i put chicken in a cast iron pan, coat with salt, pepper, and other seasoning, and place in a 400 degree oven. make sure the stuffing doesn't contain too many vegetables that will release water. if you don't need the skin as crispy, baste it with the juices every 30 minutes. usually an hour and twenty is perfect.

                                                              oh, and let it rest for 30 minutes outside the oven before carving!

                                                              1. Another super easy method for chicken is to purchase a vertical roaster, like this:
                                                                http://spanek.com/roaster/roasters.php ($16.95).

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  Perfect Roast Chicken in the Spanek roaster . The chicken is browned to crispness with meat juicy moist - best of all it's simple to carve. What could be easier?

                                                                  1. re: Cynsa

                                                                    Years ago I rec'd a Spanek roaster (chicken version) as a gift. I didn't use it for the longest time (no idea why) but once I did I couldn't get enough use out of it. I especially like using it for rock cornish hens. Done in record time and the skin is always fantastic.

                                                                    The beer can chicken (for grilling) is a fine example of roasting a bird too but the vertical roaster in the oven is rockin.

                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      I have to say, after many uses and wanting to love it, I am not a fan of the vertical roaster. I find the top part of the breast gets overdone.

                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                        The reason for vertical roast failure is not adjusting the temp when a bird is literally sitting inside a metal frame. The temp and roasting time need to be adjusted. It took me a few tries with the Spanek brand before I got a feel for it. But if you've given it the time, then yeah-it's not for everyone....like anything preference is KING.

                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          I've done that, but still it doesn't deliver. The problem is having breast at top for the entire time; ideally, there should be a contraption where the breast meat can be at the bottom. Oh, that's right, it's called a V-rack....

                                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                                            Flip the bird! lol...

                                                                        2. re: Karl S

                                                                          The secret to good vertical results is to jam the chicken neck end DOWN onto the holder (I use an angel food pan instead). The juices from the legs run down and baste the breast.

                                                                  2. Sam Fujisaka and I collaborated for some months on our Lincoln Log chicken, set on top of a corral made from notched carrots, with lots of veggies, rosemary red potatoes, brown sugared onions, brussels sprouts, and a beet, baked in a shallow pan. So purdy, so tasty.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                      That sounds really good, V. Having a Sam's story is a fantastic bonus!

                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        Sam is still missed here by many. I was new to CH, and read many of his posts for some while before he passed, and wish I had had the chance to interact with him.

                                                                        What a great legacy.

                                                                    2. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

                                                                      That's my go to recipe. If I'm feeling lazy I just do salt pepper and marjoram and throw it in the oven for 1.5 hrs at 425 (for a 6 lb or so bird)

                                                                      1. i cut the backbone out, flatten it. then sear it off skin side down in a CI skillet on medium high on the burner. then stick it in a 400 degree oven, skin side up till it is done. its quicker than a normal roast bird, and you are guaranteed pretty crispy brown skin.

                                                                        1. This is based on Jamie Oliver's recipe. It's the fastest and easiest prep time for a bird (not even 5 minutes) and will give you succulent results with crisp, tasty skin.

                                                                          Please note: let the bird sit out of the fridge for 30 minutes before making this. Out of the fridge will do in a pinch, but will take a bit longer to cook and is not quite as nice. It's the same as letting a steak come to room temperature before grilling.

                                                                          Preheat oven 400 F

                                                                          1 carrot
                                                                          1 stalk celery
                                                                          1 small onion

                                                                          Chop roughly and put in roasting pan to act as a rack and a base for the gravy.

                                                                          One 3 lb or so chicken. Better 2 smaller birds than one large one.

                                                                          Loosen skin on breast and legs with fingers ie. just shove them between skin and meat. Cut 2 deep slashes in each leg and one in each thigh. Put a small glug of olive oil under skin on both breast sides.

                                                                          Mix a good teaspoon salt with a few grinds pepper. Put a good pinch of this under skin on each side of breast.

                                                                          Into chicken cavity put 1/2 lemon, a small sprig thyme and a few small sprigs parsley.

                                                                          Truss or not. I usually just tie the legs together.

                                                                          Rub olive oil over chicken, along with remaining salt and pepper. Put on veggies in pan.

                                                                          Roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until 180 F from temp. taken in thigh. Remove from pan and let rest a few minutes.

                                                                          Read on if you want gravy :

                                                                          2 cups chicken stock - pour over veggies in pan.

                                                                          Add:

                                                                          a pinch thyme, a few peppercorns, a small pinch marjoram, 2 small bay leaves and a couple of teaspoons flour. Stir, scraping up pan juices. Bring to a boil and simmer for a minute until the flour cooks, add salt to taste.

                                                                          Strain, defat and serve.

                                                                          1. My favorite way to roast Chicken is in a Römertopf. ( pictures attached) The size I am using holds a bird up to 10 pounds and is made out of clay, which is soaked in water before using. I place the bird on a bed of vegetables/usually carrots, and fill out the space around it with sliced potatoes or whatever else I feel like adding that day. Pepper, salt, paprica, fresh herbs - no oil, butter or any other fat added. The pot is started up in a cold oven ( so it doesn't crack) and heated to 425 degr F, a large bird with a lot of veggies included takes ca. 2 and a half hours and does not need any supervision while it is roasting/ it is a nice and easy method. The Chicken will be juicy and still has browned skin. It is foolproof! :-)

                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                             
                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: RUK

                                                                              I've been using my Romertopf as a cloche for bread. You've reminded me that I can actually cook in it. :)

                                                                              1. re: jammy

                                                                                I just don't care for clay pot baked chicken (I have both a Roemertopf and Schlemmertopf): it takes longer, and does not have the full virtues of drier roasted chicken or poached chicken - it's less than either end, as it were.

                                                                            2. No one has mentioned the other fear of a whole bird: how to carve it into cuts. Anyone got a good video link?

                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                              1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                Raw or already roasted? Again, super simple. Raw is a bit slicker. Roasted the bird practically falls apart making the 'puzzle' more obvious.

                                                                                http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cut-u...
                                                                                raw, cut

                                                                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emS7l2...
                                                                                roasted, carved

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  I've roasted a chicken several times but the breast doesn't always slice off cleanly -- my bad technique, of course.

                                                                                  1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                    fame, I think carving and/or cutting up a raw bird just takes practice. Eventually, the whole thing just comes together and you're cutting and carving like mad!

                                                                                    1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                      Standard professional chef solution: remove the wishbone before roasting. You will need a small, sharp knife, and will need to feel your way along the wishbone on each side of the neck cavity, but removing it is standard procedure that allow you to carve off the breast with much greater ease.

                                                                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQIg3K...

                                                                                      1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                        Remove the entire cooked breast in the same way you would if breaking down a raw chicken, then slice the breast CROSSWISE. Each slice will get a ribbon of skin and you can easily adjust thickness of slices so each weigh the same.

                                                                                      2. re: HillJ

                                                                                        And perhaps the most famous demonstration of knife skills with a chicken: Jacques Pepin makes the nearly complete deboning of a raw chicken look like child's play.

                                                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAekQ5...

                                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                                          He's the maestro! Love Jacques.

                                                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                                                            I have been employing this technique for a few months now. Since I don't do it often I still need to think of the steps and it takes me about 10-15 min to bone out the whole chicken. Since I don't wear and apron or use kitchen towels on poultry I've been using a paper towel to pull on the wing tip to pop the two bones up. It would be easier with a better grip. It's fun to watch those two bones pop right up

                                                                                            I have yet to stuff one. Recently I've been just tossing on my smoker. The most recent one was marinaded in a Cuban mojo and given a very light smoke. Came out really well. The wing "pops" were really good too.

                                                                                        2. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                          eta: I wonder if CHOW ever made a video for how to cut up a chicken.

                                                                                        3. I love making roast chicken - and I just make it with a bit of salt and pepper, sometimes herbs like rosemary and oregano. But pretty simple for the most part. There are just a couple things you need to do beforehand to make sure it comes out tender and with crispy skin.

                                                                                          I always dry it really really well inside and out. Removing this moisture helps make the skin crispy. Then, I always let the chicken sit out on the counter for 30-45 min before roasting. Bringing it up as close to room temp helps it cook evenly. And finally I always truss the chicken. This helps keep the meat tender.

                                                                                          Then I apply the salt, pepper, and herbs (optional). I roast it in a cast iron skillet at 450F for 18-20 minutes per pound. I've never had a problem with it.

                                                                                           
                                                                                          1. I haven't read all the replies, so there is a possibility someone has already mentioned Martha Stewart's recipe http://www.marthastewart.com/326627/c.... I swear and live by it!
                                                                                            P.S. It's not mederately-temperature recipe, though.

                                                                                            1. Thanks, everyone. I read all these replies and decided the low-and-slow with an initial blast of heat would be my first method to try.

                                                                                              Last night was my first attempt. I had a 4.7 lb chicken. I dried it very thoroughly and let it sit uncovered in the fridge overnight the night before, to dry more (and finish thawing). Then I let it sit out it my kitchen for an hour and a half so it could warm up (my kitchen is 70 degrees these days). I put it in an all-clad skillet, slicked it with olive oil, showered it with salt, and popped it into a 375-degree oven for half an hour. Then I turned the heat down to 300 until it was done-- another hour later. I tested doneness with my thermometer (which I don't really trust myself with), and double-checked by cutting through the skin and looking for clear juices between the leg and the body. It was perfectly done-- after resting 10 minutes, the dark and light meat were both done, tasty, and juicy. The breast was barely done near the core of the chicken, and a little dry at the tip of the breast. If I had trussed it, I bet it would have taken slightly longer and cooked a bit more evenly.

                                                                                              But I am happy-- it takes a little while (especially with the overnight drying) but it's very low maintenance and delicious.

                                                                                              The bonus was that the skin was insanely delicious-- crispy, crackly, salty, golden brown goodness. Thanks 'hounds!

                                                                                              And I have three or four more techniques to try if I'm ready for a higher temp or a little more labor.

                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Tartinet

                                                                                                Glad to hear it worked out. Moving forward, you may give more consideration to share that oven time with a variety of roasted vegetables.

                                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                  Absolutely. I love roasted anything-- in the interests of scientific repeatability, I wanted to minimize my variables! Now that I know it works, watch out dinnertime. Here comes roast chicken and veg!

                                                                                                2. re: Tartinet

                                                                                                  Before: "... I have no burning desire for crisp, browned skin..."
                                                                                                  After: "The bonus was that the skin was insanely delicious-- crispy, crackly, salty, golden brown goodness."

                                                                                                  Welcome to the club! Congratulations!
                                                                                                  Your roasted chicken sounds delicious. A crispy skin is addicting. :-)

                                                                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                    But Dave, chickens are the "entry level drug" to ducks, to which I am now addicted....

                                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                      Yes, chicken is the gateway poultry to crispy skin addiction. :-)

                                                                                                    2. re: dave_c

                                                                                                      Love it! And as I said - crispy skin is the best part. :-)

                                                                                                    3. re: Tartinet

                                                                                                      A slick of olive oil on the top and a sprinkle of coarse salt on that dried out skin makes for a very crusty result!

                                                                                                      1. re: Tartinet

                                                                                                        Glad to hear it all worked out and you were happy with the results!

                                                                                                        1. re: Tartinet

                                                                                                          I don't like trussing because it limits how much skin is exposed to heat; consequently, there's less of the crispy skin to enjoy.

                                                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                            Good point! The skin around the opening was the most wonderful-- and that wouldn't have gotten so lovely if it had been hidden under the ends of the drumsticks. Thank you for a compelling reason to continue doing it the easy way!

                                                                                                            1. re: Tartinet

                                                                                                              I never truss for this very reason. I also stand my chicken up on a can or something while it's resting so that the back skin doesn't get soggy. Anything for crispy skin!

                                                                                                        2. So this is the kind of recipe that has very little precision, but roast chicken is one of those things that I just "do" from having watched my Mom. You may need to fiddle with the time a bit, but so what? If you realize that the chicken needs to bake a bit longer, just pop it back in the oven! This isn't brain surgery, it's just food :)
                                                                                                          Ok, go to the supermarket and buy your chicken. Something between 3 and 4 lbs, is good, (I don't bother t get a "roaster") just something whole and organic.
                                                                                                          Preheat the oven to 350 F.
                                                                                                          Remove the chicken from the plastic wrapper - do this in your sink btw- rinse inside and out, drain, then wrap in paper towels while you get the rest of your ingredients.
                                                                                                          Cut a lemon in half. Pat your chicken inside and out with paper towels, rub some kosher salt inside the cavity and inside the neck area. Take a few cloves of garlic and smash them with the flat of your knife so that the skin is split and the cloves are slightly bruised.
                                                                                                          Take your lemon half, your garlic, and some fresh parsley or thyme and stick it inside the cavity.
                                                                                                          Rub the breast and outside of the chicken with softened butter OR olive oil. Sprinkle breast with some paprika, salt, and a couple of grinds of fresh pepper.
                                                                                                          Place your chicken in an oven proof dish (you can rub a little olive oil on the bottom of the dish if you want so that the chicken doesn't stick), place in the oven.
                                                                                                          Let it cook for about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Check it periodically, if the pan looks dry you can add a bit of broth to the pan, or just some water. If you have some baby potatoes (or regular potatoes for that matter), you can put them in with the chicken about 45 minutes after you begin the roasting process. You can also toss in some peeled shallots or cut up onions tossed with a bit of olive oil.
                                                                                                          Give the pan a good shake now and then, and don't forget a bit of salt if you throw in potatoes.
                                                                                                          Remember to cut the potatoes in half if they are larger, and use red, Yukon gold, or regular white potatoes for the purpose (no need to peel). They are done when you can easily pierce them with a paring knife. The chicken will be done when the juices run clear when you pierce the thigh at the thickest part.
                                                                                                          That's it - it actually takes longer to write this than to prepare it. Try it, try it, try it. It will be delicious home cooking at its finest - remember, you can always stick it back in the oven if it isn't quite done enough. No one will know but you ;)

                                                                                                          1. Best roast chicken is on a vertical rack with lemon and onion stuffed in the neck, more lemon juice, salt and pepper, garlic if you want. High heat like 450 deg for 15 minutes then turn the heat down to 375deg until the thermometer reads done - 165 I think is the temp for done chicken .
                                                                                                            Crispy, juicy and good pickings for sandwiches the next day if any left.

                                                                                                            1. I've found that a little extra fat helps a lot. A bit of butter either over or under the skin or even just a drizzle of olive oil. If you're able to get a pastured chicken from a market, try it. It will be delicious and will serve you well through many meals. The flavor is far richer. Keep reporting back and best of luck!
                                                                                                              JeremyEG
                                                                                                              HomeCookLocavore.com

                                                                                                              1. I use a version of the Judy Rodgers/Zuni Cafe recipe for roasted chicken and will see if I can find a link to her original recipe.

                                                                                                                The only significant thing I do additionally is to finish off the chicken with a hair dryer. Not to cook the meat, just to crisp up the skin. Yes, that sounds really weird and dinner guests have given me some odd looks when I pull out the hair dryer, but it works if you desire a really crisp skin but moist meat underneath.