Which pan to use for perfect roasted chicken?
To make a perfectly cooked, juicy, roasted whole chicken with crispy skin, should it be in the oven covered or uncovered...and what pan should I use? (I've been buying the pre-cooked rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, but would like to start roasting at home.)
- Cast iron skillet
- 13x9ish casserole dish with 1.5-2" sides (Pyrex, steel, or stoneware)
- Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker (rectangular stoneware casserole dish with cover)
- Something else?
Any low-walled roaster, skillet or gratin will work in the oven.
If you will be browning your bird on the stovetop before moving it to the oven, you would probably like something thick that holds heat well. Many feel a CI skillet is ideal for this, although the one short stubby handle can make leverage awkward. I favor oval gratins for roast chickens.
For crispy skin--make sure the skin is quite dry and do not cover.
I made Judy Rodgers' Zuni Café roast chicken with bread salad last weekend, and it was fabulous as always. This recipe calls for a smaller chicken, dry-brined, and cooked in a smallish pan. You want something that can go from stovetop to oven. I usually use a Calphalon or All-Clad skillet. If you use a more traditional method with a larger bird, a traditional roasting pan with a v-rack is good. In either event, no lid for a crispy skin.
There are lots of ways to do this. I use an old fashioned enamel roaster. I cover for about an hour, and then uncover. If you have a convection oven then you should get a beautiful browned crust. Because I no longer have a full sized convection oven, I now pour a little white wine over the chicken and I get a beautiful bird.
There are also many ways to treat the bird itself. I think a dry rub a day ahead of time is probably good, and there are instructions on the web on the technique. I am a little wary of doing that because of my concern about salmonella, but others do this.
You can use a rack in an open pan, but to my mind you will get a dry breast, which I hate.
I put my bird in the closest fitting enamel roaster that I have (I have several to choose from), after rubbing it all over with olive oil and salt. I put bay leaves under the skin in as many places as I can get them. I like a sprig of rosemary in the cavity, along with a lemon half. I cover the bird with the domed lid, and let it cook for whatever the package says.
I uncover after about an hour, and pour wine over. My chickens are always good.