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Tips on how to roast a Large Chicken (8 lbs)

Does anyone have an recipes or thoughts on how to roast very large chickens? My farmer's market guy grows whoppers! Thanks!

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  1. If you don't plan on stuffing it, the general rule is 20 min/lb. at 350, or 10-15 min. at high temps (450 or 500).

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        This! I saw it on seriouseats and tried it out. I have also converted my SIL, who did it last night with a couple of chooks she picked up. It's easy & gives more even cooking.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          I agree. Take out the backbone and wing tips and save them in a plastic bag, until you have enough for soup. I roast the bird skin side down for 50% of estimated time, then turn over. If you have a convection oven, turn it to convection roast (upper oven burner is on) (as opposed to convection bake - lower oven burner is hot)when you turn bird skin side up so skin will get crispy.

        2. I would rotate it once. Start breast down, finish breast up.

          1. Just bought an 8-pounder the other day. Because I then realized I was short on fridge space for the leftovers, I decided to take it apart. I removed and skinned the breast halves, freezing them. At some point I'll poach them or use for chicken a la king. I removed the wings, thighs, and drumsticks to roast on a rack above a roasting pan into which I put sliced potatoes and onions (basted in drippings from the rack atop them, they are yummy). While the parts roasted, I was simmering the neck, giblets (sans liver), breast skin, and carcass for stock. Once the parts were roasted I immediately removed their bones to add to the stockpot. I froze the liver, which I will dice and saute the next time I stuff a chicken. When the potatoes were removed from the pan, there was still nice fond around the edges so I ladled in some hot stock to loosen it, then poured that back into the stockpot. The nice part of this procedure is that the work is over sooner, since I don't have to wait to make the stock.

            I roasted the parts and spuds at 400 for an hour. The meat didn't need that long but the potatoes did, so next time I will nuke the potatoes for a few minutes first, to give them a head start.

            1. Spatchcocking is a good idea. Otherwise, I just roast it at 350 starting it on a rack breast side down. For an 8 pound chicken, I'd probably give it 2.5 hours over all. So, I would leave it breast down for 1 3/4 hours, and then turn it breast up for the final 45 minutes., giving it enough time to brown the skin.

              I also find that the "typical" meat thermometer temperature quoted in many cookbooks says 170 degrees for the breast. However, I find that the meat is dry and stringy at that point. I usually go for 150 myself, which is safe and the meat has just the faintest bit of pale pink in it. I realize that's a personal preference, but I hate the dry breast meat.

              1. This is a important comment. All poultry needs to be 180 degrees-at the thigh! No exceptions!

                8 Replies
                1. re: jdisch5151

                  The US Food Safety and Inspection Service gives 165 °F (74 °C) as the minimum safe internal temperature for chicken. What is the reason for 180?

                  1. re: GH1618

                    It's not a safety issue; it just breaks down more collagen, improving the texture.

                    1. re: Scrofula

                      The white meat of large chickens doesn't have a terrible lot of collagen to break down. 180F is terrible advice, and has been abandoned as the rule for good reason.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        Agreed, but jdisch5151 said the thighs should hit 180, not the white meat. Of course, it's tricky to get one but not the other when roasting a whole chicken, so in practice you usually end up with slightly overcooked breasts and slightly undercooked thighs.

                        1. re: Scrofula

                          You can always hack off the thighs and put them back in like some do with roast turkey.

                      2. re: Scrofula

                        I agree completely that thighs and legs really shine when taken to 180-190 but when doing a whole bird it's not practical. That's why I will take the bird apart so I can pull the white meat when it's done

                        Whole birds look nice but you have to compromise somewhere

                    2. re: jdisch5151

                      180 at the thigh? this would make the breast over 200 and the entire bird a dry dusty waste of protein and oven-time.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        I agree! I've never cooked a thigh to 180 which is attached to a whole bird. I don't even check the thigh usually, I just go by the breast and the thigh has always been fine.

                    3. I usually rotisserie my chickens but ended up the other day with a 10 lb chicken. I didn't even try to fit it in there, since I have enough trouble with the usual 8 lbers.

                      It was so big it reminded me of a small turkey, so I did all the special things I do to mine at Thanksgiving: Stuffed with citrus and coated with duck fat and compound herb butter. I put potatoes to roast underneath so I did baste it a few times too. Started at 450, then down to 350, 15 minutes per lb brought it to 170. Just made pot pie with the leftovers (of which there is plenty) the meat is delicious!

                      1. I was so happy to see this topic! I too have a hefty 8# chicken that was given to me and it's been languishing in the freezer taking up a lot of room. I have a better idea after reading the comments on how long to roast it. My question is: how long will it take to defrost in the frig?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: fleck

                          I'd give it three or four days, or even a day or two longer if it's cryovaced (which it probably is). Another thing I did with mine that I forgot to mention; just like my Thanksgiving turkey I unwrapped it a day ahead, pulled out the innards, doused it with salt and pepper, and let it sit naked overnight. It helps dehydrate all the excess liquid that's pumped in there at the factory.

                        2. I just roast the whole thing breast down the entire time. There's great crispy skin on the back, and the breast doesn't get over cooked.