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Question about High-roast Chicken and Mess

High-roast chicken is without doubt delicious but I find the mess and smoke that ensue make it just not worth it to me to make at home. Friends and Internets all seem to say, "Your pan's too big. Use a pan just big enough to hold the bird." Well, hmmm, okay. So here's the question: If pan size does make the difference, what does it change and why is it true?

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  1. Put something in the bottom of the pan - water, wine, a layer of salt, or sliced potatoes. These will prevent drippings from burning and smoking.

    2 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      I slice up potatoes. Line the bottom. Works like a charm. Plus they are quite tasty!

      1. re: C. Hamster

        I've done this many times, with great results. The potatoes tend to disappear while the chicken is resting! It's just that sometimes I want something besides roasted spuds for a starch.

    2. The reason it matters is that a larger pan has more surface area for the fa/dripping to spread. A thinner layer has more opportunity to burn/smoke. In addition there is more of chance of the greasy splattering.

      A pan that just holds the bird will have a slightly deeper layer of the grease and there is less chance of splatter.

      However as Grey notes below, what I find works the best is to add some veggies and white wine/water/broth to the pan

      1 Reply
      1. Do not use convection with high heat roasting of anything that is fatty and has to cook for more than the time it takes to cook a fish fillet: the air circulation will amplify splatter a great deal.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Karl S

          So very true, lots of splatter with convection high roasting.

        2. Thank you all! My physics knowledge is next to nil, and my common sense is sometimes, shall we say, due to return shortly. No convection here, so that's not a factor. Getting out the Vermouth bottle now.

          1. Mission accomplished! I added a glug of Vermouth and one of water to the roasting pan and got chicken perfection. No smoke, no spatters, and outstanding gravy to boot. What an elegant solution! Thanks very much for the advice.

            1. I make the Zuni-style chicken all the time at 475F and it smokes somewhat but a few things have really cut back on the smoke. For the small chicken used in this recipe, I use my 12 inch cast iron pan. Also make sure your oven is clean to begin with. Lastly, if possible you can spoon off some of the fat which renders to limit the smoke.

              1. I use parchment paper over the top, the chicken still roasts and the fat isn't flying all over the place. As well this time of year, I put the chicken in a cast iron pan and cook on the BBQ, but the chicken must be covered otherwise you might have a flaming mess speaking from experience.