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Nov 2, 2013 09:19 PM

Roasting chickens... [Split from Addendum thread, SF board]

We liked Mary's the best. We prepared the chickens simply, a la Thomas Keller. Oven *fully* preheated to 425F, chickens were generously rubbed with Kosher salt, wings tucked behind. Roasted one hour in a wide skillet. All the chickens were roughly the same weight. The skin comes out extra crispy; breast and dark meat are succulent.

Now, we turn out thoughts to capon. But where to buy or order?

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  1. How much did the chickens weigh?

    Do i assume correctly that a roasting pan would work as well as the wide skillet?

    31 Replies
    1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

      4.2 to 4.4 pounds. Yes, a roasting pan is fine. The sides of a roasting pan are a bit higher than a skillet, though, and that may affect airflow and browning a bit. Though you could always prop up your bird on a bed of whole carrots and halved apple. Great for gravy, if you make it.

      1. re: maria lorraine

        I'm not much of a cook except for bbq, but this looks like something I could do and really enjoy. For a skillet, it would need to be an all-metal one, probably cast iron, right?

        1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

          I urge you to make a roast chicken. So easy and the flavor and juiciness of a freshly roasted chicken is wonderful.

          Yes, a skillet with a metal handle is best. My preference is for the classic restaurant kitchen skillet that is used for searing on the stovetop and then goes into the oven to finish cooking. They really hold up and can take a beating. Get the skillet at a restaurant supply store; no need for something expensive. Cast iron will certainly work.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            I use CI cause that's what I have. Picked one up at Goodwill not too long ago for $12.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                I just remembered that I have rectangular Pyrex baking dishes of various sizes in my storage locker. Would one of those work?

                1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                  Not Maria, who will certainly weigh in, but you won't be able to sear on the stove top with Pyrex. Hit your local thrift store. I'm betting there's a cast iron skillet in your future :)

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Is searing on the stove top a part of this Thomas Keller roast chicken recipe?

                    1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                      My apologies. No, it doesn't. I was thinking about the Zuni chicken which starts on the cooktop. Still, there's something about the Pyrex that doesn't seem quite right but, for the life of me, I can't think what :) Again, sorry about that.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        The CI will absorb and conduct even heat into the bird, Pyrex won't do that.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston


                            I call that searing. The link you gave is not the authentic recipe from the cookbook. The link I gave is.

                    2. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                      I think the heat conductivity (and thus roasting) might be better with metal. Though some Pyrex can handle sustained 425F heat, other Pyrex breaks at that heat.

                      Nope, this recipe doesn't call for searing -- you can just put the bird in the oven, though you may have increased flavor if you do sear. Having done it both ways, I forgo searing.

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        Thanks, Maria. I've probably only used the Pyrex at 350. Metal it shall be.

                        How large a skillet is needed for these birds?

                        1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                          10" is fine. 9" even works. Roast chicken is so good.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            I grew up with roast chicken because my mother thought it was better than any other way. Thanks for all the help from you and others here. I'll report back when I get it done.

                        2. re: maria lorraine

                          Also, for people who might think to use a non-stick skillet for this: don't. Most non-stick coatings are not safe to use in a hot oven. (I can't tell you how many times I've seen chefs on TV mis-using non-stick skillets in this manner; I want to scream.)

                      2. re: maria lorraine

                        I spent a whole $3.49 at the local Goodwill on a Calphalon hard-anodized aluminum (I think) pan. Let me know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. If a bad thing, I'll just give it back to Goodwill.

                        All comments appreciated, including what I should do to restore (if that's the word) this well-used pan.


                        1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                          Looks like a great pan, and total score, Malcolm. Soak the pan in some very hot sudsy water. When the water cools down, give the pan a good scrubbing, and you'll be good to go. Get yourself a good chicken and crank up the oven!

                          P.S.: Don't forget good oven mitts, and to cover the skillet pan handle with a mitt after you remove the pan from the oven. I know of more than one person who has burnt their hand when they grabbed the hot skillet handle.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Definitely cover that handle! jfood taught me that and I've only failed once. Recently. But was quick enough with the ice that I didn't blister. COVER THE HANDLE!!!

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              I roasted a Mary's air-chilled chicken (from Whole Foods) tonight in that pan, no frills (not even salt and pepper), no rinse, no dry (hey, it looked clean to me). Just put the chicken in the pan and put it in the oven. One hour at 425 and it seems perfect to me. Haven't been into the breast yet, but the rest seems perfect. Topped off with a good red, not a great red, fit for a picnic, Preston L.P. Red. Still drinking that...

                              Thanks to all who helped in this fun project. Next step will be adding some seasoning :-)

                                1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                  Next, try Marcella Hazan's chicken with 2 lemons (I use one). It's breast side down for first 30 minutes.

                                  I don't like Mary's because the meat seems too firm (maybe they get too much exercise!) I get my chicken from Bryan's, I think they come from Petaluma.

                                  1. re: walker

                                    Do you know the brand at Bryan's that you like? They're known for good meats/poultry.

                                    We tested Mary's, Costco Organic, and Felton Acres. Open to new possibilities, also. The organic chickens seem to cook faster than regular. Are you sure the Mary's wasn't too firm from being cooked a bit too long? I think breast side down first overcooks the breast, personally.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      I used to routinely buy the rotisserie chickens at Whole Foods; when I got 2 in a row that seemed very different (not in a good way .. my friend eating that chicken noticed it too) I asked at WF and they said they'd switched from Rocky Jr to Mary's. So, I stopped buying those.

                                      I'd tried cooking just breasts of Mary's .. roasting and also poached .. did not like the texture, was not overcooking.

                                      I feed my 2 cats raw ground chicken thighs and since they eat raw, I'm afraid to buy any place other than WF. I go about once a month and freeze it in freezer safe Ball glass jars.

                                      The chicken I prefer to eat is from Bryan's, called Happy Dan's from Martinelli. Bryan's gets them in Mon/Wed/Fri and they smell fresh. I usually buy whole chickens or bone-in breasts. They charge a fortune for boneless, skinless breasts .. I think about $10 lb so I've learned how to do it myself.

                                      I have not been to Marina Meats but they carry this chicken too but I believe, from a prior thread on CH, that they charge even more than Bryan's. I forget what I pay per lb for whole chickens, last one was almost 4 1/4 lbs and cost about $16.

                                      Here's info on them from Marina Meats:


                                      1. re: walker

                                        >last one was almost 4 1/4 lbs and cost about $16<

                                        My Mary's air-chilled chicken from Whole Foods (that I roasted) weighed 4.0 pounds (without the gizzards) and cost $16. Seems expensive to me. The texture and flavor are excellent.

                                        1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                          Malcolm, our recent chicken roast off revealed Mary's to have good flavor also, but I'm trying to find the best local sources possible. Melanie's Amazing Edd Thread (I Brake For Eggs) is helpful in this regard, but as mentioned we were disappointed in the very expensive Felton acres. I may have to spread my poultry wings and try locally sourced capon, pheasant and so forth. Roasted a duck tonight, and yes, saved the fat for future purposes. Made confit of the leg quarters.

                                        2. re: walker


                                          Thanks for the added info. Good to know.

                          2. re: maria lorraine

                            I do the Zuni one and she prefers really small birds so WF has them around what you describe rather than the 5#+ one from Safeway et al.

                            I've used a foil 'donut' in lieu of a rack for some things.

                        2. +1 for Mary's - excellent flavor...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: RWCFoodie

                            Since this thread has been broken off from another, Mary's is the brand sold at Whole Foods here in California and perhaps elsewhere.

                            Mary's Chickens are air-chilled. If you can't find Mary's, seek out other air-chilled chicken. Ask using that term.

                            "Chicken lovers go for the big chill"

                            Mary's Chickens

                          2. And now for something totally different. Roasted chicken
                            in a plastic bag meant for roasting poultry. Foolproof.
                            Accumulated juices in pan make for divine gravy, particularly
                            when defatted the next day for the left over chicken.

                            I am partial to Sonny's Powder from Memphis, and sprinkle
                            nothing else on chicken which comes out juicy, crisp and brown.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Bashful3

                              What does Sonny's taste like?

                              I sometimes use Bicentennial rub from Penzey's. more often, I just:
                              1. Heat oven to 400
                              2. Rub chicken all over with lemon and fresh/sage/thyme. Stuff a little thyme/sage under skin
                              3. Melt butter (1 tbspn)
                              4. Stuff lemon in cavity
                              5. Brush butter all over chicken
                              6. cook one hour. Do not baste

                              Otherwise, i just do a riff on The Frugal Gourmet's Chinese roast chicken. Awesome and house smells great (though I do a lower temperature so sugars do not scorch). Leftovers are GREAT when made into chicken salad sandwiches.

                            2. Sonny's salt is hard to describe. I guess I'd say it doesn't wear on me, it's worth buying 6 jars on the internet, we haven't tired of it in two years. Not too spicy--just right, doesn't taste like anything else. I put it on steak, chicken, and sometimes even hamburgers. It doesn't taste salty though. Probably good on fish also.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Bashful3

                                Thanks! I will have to try it.

                                Thinking of getting 'viking salt" for the holidays.

                              2. There are many supposed Thomas Keller roast chicken recipes online, and most(?) seem to call for root veggies in the pan. Do you do anything like that?

                                15 Replies
                                1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                  I don't usually, but you can always make a bed o' roots, a rack of carrots, halved apples and celery, that I men tioned earlier. You can eat these whole after roasting, or puree them into the gravy using an immersion blender in the pan.

                                  If I want roasted vegetables, I usually roast them in a separate pan to keep the calories low. When roasted with the chicken, the veggies have too many calories from fat.

                                  I love creamy polenta with roasted chicken. I use a fat separator and pour a small amount of the pan liquid over the polenta.

                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                    I also will, if anything, make gravy from them or just toss. I just don't like the texture. I love to roast vegetables separately also.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Or you could roast a chicken the way one of the best chefs in the world does it.

                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                        Sorry, my data plan doesn't accommodate five minute youtubes.

                                        1. re: Puffin3

                                          Puffin3, I think it would be helpful if you would list the steps Blumenthal takes in the video and put it here in this thread.

                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                            Wet brine bird in 60 grams kosher salt to 1 liter of cold water overnight. Pat dry. Half a lemon and a spring of thyme or whatever into cavity. Do not truss. Into preheated oven 200 F!!!!!!! That's right 200 F. Uncovered. After an hour check internal temp. Keep doing this until internal temp is 150 F. Remove and rest for half an hour . Yes. Half an hour. Crank up oven to screaming hot. Carefully put bird back into oven. Watch as the skin turns golden. Remove, rest again and carve. Eat.
                                            It doesn't get any easier than that.

                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                              Thank you for going through the steps so people don't have to watch the video.

                                              What is the total time approx the bird is in the oven at 200 F.?

                                              You say to check after an hour and then to "keep doing this."

                                              90 minutes, 2 hours, what would you say?

                                              And then 30 minutes more cooking at high heat, correct?

                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                The Blumenthal recipe is for 3.3-4.3lb chickens (1.5-2 kilo). He estimates 3+ hours (one blogger had it take 6 hrs).

                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                  That 'blogger' is nuts. A 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pound bird should not take more than one and a half to two hours @ 200 F.

                                                2. re: maria lorraine

                                                  NO!!!!!!!!! Not "30 minutes at hight heat"!!!!!!! More like four minutes at high/ Just enough to brown the skin.
                                                  Small bird should be checked after thirty minutes then every fifteen or so minutes until the internal temp reaches 150 F.

                                                3. re: Puffin3

                                                  Heston Blumenthal's slow roasted chicken (for a 3.4-4.3 lb chicken - for this, only use an organic chicken, given the lower goal temperature)

                                                  Pull thighs outward; remove wishbone; brine for 6 hrs; dry the bird well.
                                                  Stuff with a bunch of fresh thyme & then a well-pierced lemon.
                                                  Rub with butter.
                                                  Roast breast-side up on a roasting rack @195F for 3-6 hours; remove when breast reaches 140F; rest uncovered for 45 mins.
                                                  Heat oven to 510F.
                                                  Melt 4 oz butter with 1 oz dry white wine and thyme - bring to a boil; baste the bird with this.
                                                  Roast for 10 mins.
                                                  Season with salt and pepper after carving.

                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                    You see, I just want to unwrap a fresh chicken, salt it well, throw it into a a 425° oven, and have crispy skin and succulent juicy meat one hour later. I always do.

                                                    Blumenthal's roasting/resting/roasting time is 2.5+ hours.

                                                    I don't want the extra fat or calories or even the extra cooking step, of slathering a chicken with butter, but that's me.

                                                    Here are the steps in the video for
                                                    Heston Blumenthal's Roast Chicken:

                                                    Brine overnight in salt water solution of 2 oz salt to 4.25 cups water or 60g salt per liter.

                                                    Remove wishbone.
                                                    Stuff cavity with bunch of thyme and lemon.
                                                    Slather breast with butter.
                                                    Roast at 194°F or 90°C for at least 90 minutes, or until temp in thickest part of breast is 140°F or 60°C.
                                                    Rest out of oven uncovered 45 minutes.
                                                    Turn oven to hottest setting. Baste chicken and return to oven for 10 minutes.

                                                    Cooking and Resting Time: At least 2 hours, 35 minutes.

                                                    Karl S's copy of Blumenthal's recipe calls for 3 to 6 hours roasting.

                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                      Some one isn't paying attention.
                                                      HB specifically says "check the internal temp after 1 1/2 hours." Then says "almost there" meaning the bird is close to being done. That's a LONG LONG way from taking up to "six hours".
                                                      My experience is a small bird in a 200 F oven will take about an hour and a half to reach 150 F internal temp. Some times even a shorter roasting time is needed very much depending on the bird.

                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                        Your "steps" were different from the steps in the video, and lacked important details. Yet you say someone isn't paying attention. Sigh.

                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                          Please explain what "steps" were different and what "important details" I missed.