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Jun 28, 2013 01:50 PM

Roasting a Chicken - am I doing too much?

I love roasted chicken and do this lots. I love how this chicken comes out and don't want to do it in any other way.

First I brine for a couple of hours. Rinse and pat dry.

Then make a spice rub, rub chicken inside and out, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

then slow and low till temp is 165.

The problem is it is never a one day easy thing. Its always a two day ordeal.

Now my daughter wants the recipe, but unlike myself, she works full time with 2 young kids. She wants to start cooking more and making more unprocessed foods for her family and time is everything in her world. The last thing I want to do is for her to say - too much work!

I know the brine can be skipped if you purchase a kosher chicken, but they aren't always easy to find.

Do you have a simplified roasted chicken or shortcuts to make this beautiful dish for a more-or-less beginning cook (not because I din't want to teach her, she just was never interested till now)?

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    1. re: Firegoat

      This is my go-to. When time is less of an issue, dry-brine the chicken the previous night and let it dry out, uncovered, in the fridge. You need a lot of room in the fridge for that to prevent cross-contamination, of course, but if you're concerned you can put the whole chicken and its plate in a paper grocery bag.

      Do you really get a crispy skin cooking low and slow?

      1. re: Firegoat

        This method is extremely simple and it turns out great (I don't truss and don't do the butter-mustard thing either). As a working mom with two little kids I can't seem to get it together to dry brine though I love the Zuni chicken. I also do not like to flip the chicken bc I don't like opening the oven door with little ones around. The TK recipe requires no advance work, no flipping, just salt and chicken. Use the best chicken your budget allows.

        1. re: Westminstress

          I just made another Thomas Keller chicken a few days ago. It was perfection! And so very easy.

          1. re: Westminstress

            When I don't have a brined chicken Zuni style, Thomas Keller is my go to. I love that chicken and it's so simple. I usually serve it with a an equally simple thyme pan sauce - drain fat, throw in peeled whole garlic cloves and fresh thyme, splash of white wine and either water or stock - and it's one of the best dinners I can think of.

      2. It doesn't sound like an "ordeal" at to me. The brining and the overnight in the fridge don't require any effort on your part. Making the brine and putting the chicken in - 5 minutes
        Making the rub, rubbing the chicken, wrapping and putting in fridge, maybe 10 minutes max.
        Cook the chicken.

        Fifteen minutes of hand on time? Sounds super quick.

        9 Replies
        1. re: c oliver

          yeah - it's not like one has to WATCH it brine.

          so she gets home, orders a pizza, brines the chicken, dry rubs before bedtime and comes home the following evening to pop it in the oven. "dinner's going to be a bit late tonight!" or even better schedule it so it starts Friday or Saturday and ends up on the next (or whatever fits her regime)

          1. re: hill food

            Holy moley, hill food, YOU got it :) Of course.

            1. re: c oliver

              aww you're nice, pumpkin, but don't encourage me. really.

            2. re: hill food

              And consider doing two chickens at once on the weekend, so there are leftovers for sandwiches, pot pies (use packaged dough for a shortcut), curries, and other quick dishes during the week.

              1. re: hill food

                While I agree with both you and C Oliver, if she's not an experienced cook she may be put off with what she might think is a complicated recipe. Plus, if she has a hankering for a roast chicken for dinner that evening, she can't do that if she's got to brine.

                1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                  true and a good point - but with kids, I understand planning ahead is always in the cards

                  1. re: hill food

                    What I like about the Zuni bird is that it's a dry brine and can go for one to three (or more?) days.

                2. re: hill food

                  Damn, you mean I don't have to watch my chicken/turkey brine ?!? All those lost years ......

                  1. re: LotusRapper

                    well I prefer to watch paint dry, but it takes all sorts.

              2. Barbara Kafka's method is my go to for easy weeknight dinner that is no fuss/no muss. Once the chicken is on the oven I have time to catch up with my son, throw a load of laundry in etc. Add some roasted potatoes and a veg and dinner is done.

                Preheat oven to 450.

                Pat dry the bird, place on shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet, season well with S&P. Cut a lemon in half, squeeze over the chicken and put halves in the cavity. If you want add clove or two of garlic and some rosemary/thyme/herbs in there too. Put bird in oven, legs first. After 10 minutes push it around with wooden spoon to keep from sticking. It will take about 50 minutes to and hour for a 5-6lb bird.

                If you want a gravy you can make it with the drippings, the juices from the cavity and some stock/wine

                If you google Barbara Kafka roast chicken there are lots of interpretations and none take more than an hour.

                9 Replies
                1. re: foodieX2

                  I love Barbara Kafka's method but it produces a lot of smoke and no usable drippings.

                  If you use her method I suggest that you brine the chicken and cover the bottom of the roasting pan with thinly sliced potatoes.

                  The potatoes prevent the smoke and odor from burning fat and actually taste pretty good.

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    hmm- never had an issue with smoke, but I use a small roasting pan and start with white wine in the bottom of the pan.

                    1. re: foodieX2

                      Really ?

                      I love the technique but smoke/odor is a huge complaint about it. Believe me... its a huge issue. Google for more.

                      Adding wine might help but works against the technique

                    2. re: C. Hamster

                      Interesting you should be discussing this when we just had another incident of "house-filled-with-smoke-while-roasting-a-chicken."

                      I had checked out from the library "How to Cook Without a Book" and thought the easy roast chicken sounded wonderful. Spatchcocked the bird for the first time in my life, made a paste of rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, and put it under the skin, then placed halved potatoes all AROUND the bird on the baking sheet.

                      Wish I had read your advice to place potatoes UNDER the chicken. I'll either try that next time--or do it out on the grill!

                      1. re: Thanks4Food

                        You might also want to get an oven thermometer to check if your oven is running hot. it might need to be recalibrated. My mother's oven runs 25 degrees hotter than the temp specified on the dial. I think mine is running lower than the temperature specified at the lower settings, like around 250 degrees.

                        You should testing by running the oven at each setting for 15 minutes or more before checking, then change temperature and don't check again for 15 minutes. Any difference of 25 degrees or more and consider getting the oven serviced.

                        That might explain your problem. I shouldn't think potatoes would BURN that badly, in the time it would take to spatchcocked bird, even if they were on the side, instead of underneath. Temp problems might have contributed...

                        1. re: ePressureCooker

                          ePC, it wasn't the potatoes that burned at all (many of them didn't even get brown enough). My husband says it appeared to be the fat in the pan smoking.

                          But you're right about the oven temp: ours usually does run hot and I didn't even think to look at the thermometer!

                        2. re: Thanks4Food

                          Yes it's the fat that's burning.

                          That's what happens with chicken and a 500 degree oven.

                          I love the recipe !!

                          It's posted in a number of different sites and blogs. Check out the comments for other methods to deal with the smoke/odor. Vegetable matter seems like the most common suggestion.

                          I also love the Zuni chicken recipe.

                      2. re: foodieX2

                        "It will take about 50 minutes to and hour for a 5-6lb bird."

                        Surely Foodie that's dangerously too little time for that size of bird? I'd cook a 3 pounder for an hour at 450 (pretty much like Mr. Keller), but I'd give a 5-6 pounder approaching 2 hours at 400 myself.

                        1. re: Robin Joy

                          That's where the thermometer comes in handy :)

                      3. Ina Garten's recipe is my favorite. I use a regular-ole 5-ish-pound chicken from a regular grocery store. I've made it many times over the years, always adding halved red potatoes and leaving out the fennel:


                        1. I wash the chicken (rinse it), season it, and put it in the oven. It turns out every time. I buy cheap fryers and never brine. Sometimes I will throw in some celery, carrots, onion, maybe some citrus into the cavity.
                          I like to put some butter under the skin, but don't always do that.

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: wyogal

                            This is how my mother, who worked full time outside the house when I was growing up, taught me to roast a chicken. It could not be easier and always tastes great. I'm sure that all of the more elaborate preparations that CH'ers recommend are tasty too but if the question is what is an easy, delicious recipe for a person juggling work and raising small chicken, this is the way to go.

                            1. re: masha

                              I have a flock too. They're cute. They run around all over the house going "expensive, expensive".

                              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                Oh no! Just saw what I wrote -- was on the IPAD, and am sure that it "finished" the word before I'd type it out. Should have proofed more carefully before I posted.

                            2. re: wyogal

                              I even save a step from your simple prep: no longer wash the chicken. Have read multiple studies that doing so just spreads the chicken-gunk into the air even more. Just dry with towels and proceed to cook.

                              1. re: pine time

                                I open the package in the sink, so the gunk runs down the drain and not on my counter, I have the tap running, I don't vigorously scrub the chicken.

                                1. re: wyogal

                                  Wyogal, we seem to do things the same way. I place the package in the sink, open it there, and then run the water over and inside the chicken. Before doing so, I've already torn off some paper towels, placed just to the side of the sink, so I can grab them to dry the chicken while it's still hovering above the sink surface.

                                2. re: pine time

                                  When I was very young- like under ten- my sister & I made dinner for our parents anniversary. We washed the chicken- with soap. Folks never noticed.

                                  1. re: PandaCat

                                    never noticed or never mentioned? good sports.

                                3. re: wyogal

                                  Me, too. I don't get all the hoopla about brining. I did once. Didn't see the difference. I like to fill the cavity with garlic and salt the bird before popping it in a 350 oven for 1 1/2 hours. Other than that, that's it.

                                  1. re: mtlcowgirl

                                    I do a dry brine for two or three days as part of the Zuni recipe. I won't do a bird any other way now.

                                    1. re: mtlcowgirl

                                      If you didn't see a difference from the brining, you probably didn't use enough salt, or for long enough.

                                      1. re: ePressureCooker

                                        You could be right. My birds turn out just fine without it, though.

                                        1. re: mtlcowgirl

                                          That's true, you can turn out a perfectly fine bird without brining. Aside from seasoning the meat within, however, brining also makes for more tender meat (salt denatures some of the protein strands) and if you wet brine, the extra moisture that is drawn into the meat through osmosis helps keep the meat from drying out if you accidentally overcook it (or parts of it, like the breast meat, which cooks faster than dark meat).