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Which pan to use for perfect roasted chicken?

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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?

Thanks!

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  1. I use CI skillet. And never cover or you won't get crispy skin.

    1. Hi, kimbers:

      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.

      Aloha,
      Kaleo

      1 Reply
      1. re: kaleokahu

        Thanks! I had forgotten about my oval gratin dish - I think that would work well. :-)

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sueatmo

            @sueatmo is your enamel roaster like this one?
            http://www.amazon.com/Granite-Ware-61...

            1. re: kimbers324

              Yes. Though about 30 years older.

          2. I've been doing the Zuni chicken for several years and it turns out great every time. Even when I don't dry brine it's still good.

            http://www.today.com/id/4401342/

            1 Reply
            1. re: c oliver

              I agree, love it, as you know. I use a 14 inch cast iron skillet.

            2. Do NOT cover. It steams and you want crisp skin. Start breast side down, flip breast up halfway through your estimated cooking time. This will keep the bird moist, as will jamming it, neck down, drumsticks up, onto an angel food pan. If it's a two-piece pan, just use the insert set into a casserole dish or a frying pan. Vertical roasting this way, the juices running down from the legs baste the breast, which is shielded somewhat from the heat by the baking pan's higher sides. Of course, you can't stuff a vertical bird, but you can toss chunked carrot, celery, and onion into the pan to flavor the juices.

              I would not use the pyrex lasagna pan since if the juices dry up, the pan will heat up sufficiently to present an increased risk of shattering from thermal shock once you take it out of the oven.

              Since you are new to roasting chicken, I recommend starting simple - 4-1/2# chicken, 450F, 45 minutes. Easy to remember. No stuffing, marinating or rubs - just sprinkle S&P inside and out. Once you are comfy with that, you can advance to other methods. High temp, low temp, spatchcock/butterfly, wet brine, dry rub..... there are more ways to achieve a good roast chicken than you can swing a skinned dead cat, to emphasize the metaphor.

              1. The pan isn't as important as the method. We use this Thomas Keller method a couple of times a month. Crispy skin, juicy bird. Simple method. He uses a SS Pan, we usually use a baking sheet. Both work!

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWLt6G...

                And we're lazy, we don't remove the bone or tie it. It's still perfect!

                1. Shallow sides are preferable to the alternatives, especially for crispy-skinned roast chicken. I alternate between a quarter sheet pan, an aluminum skillet and a tri-ply clad skillet; the size of the chicken determines which pan I'm using. I prefer to use metal pans rather than stoneware, since I usually roast at 450F. I have used stoneware gratin dishes and other bakeware in the past, but I'd be leery of cooking at high temps with them.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: janniecooks

                    I'd wondered the same regarding the high temp.

                    1. re: janniecooks

                      My response exactly, so I'll just second it.

                    2. Best pan? No pan! Spatchcock and bake on oven rack over a vessel to collect drippings!

                       
                      14 Replies
                      1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                        I'm curious why you think that's better than using some type of pan/skillet.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          I do it that way because when I want the "rotisserie" flavor, this is the easiest way in the oven without a rotisserie. Another approach would be the wire chicken stand that roasts the bird vertically. The OP said, "I've been buying the pre-cooked rotisserie chicken at the grocery store..." So either straight on the rack as CaliforniaJoseph or in a pan with a rack (flat or vertical) would be closest. Spatchcocking it just makes it cook a bit faster. The rotisserie on a BBQ grill might be better, but it is a bit cold for grilling in a lot of places, still.

                          The local grocery seems to brine their chickens before cooking so that might help, too, again, if the goal is to come close to the store version.

                          1. re: travelerjjm

                            Oh, I wasn't asking about the spatchcocking. Been doing that for about 25 years :) I was asking why put it directly on the rack.

                          2. re: c oliver

                            Quite simply: experience! I have yet to get crispier skin any other way. Vertical roasting has come the closest.

                            1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                              Well, if you can get just as crispy, then it seems using a pan offers a distinct advantage :)

                              1. re: c oliver

                                However I cannot so I still view hypothetical pan as distinct disadvantage :)

                              2. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                I think I'd sooner lay a cooling rack over the top of a 2" deep pan than having to scour an oven rack. Have you ever tried that?

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  Me too, gf. I owe you a message. Soon.

                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    When I spray the oven rack with non-stick spray before cooking on it, it is just as easy to clean as the cooling rack. Honest.

                                    1. re: travelerjjm

                                      But that oven rack is WHOLE LOT bigger and, for me, would be a lot more tedious to clean.

                                    2. re: greygarious

                                      A baking sheet on the rack below serves the same function - that is what I do.

                                2. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                  This can be good, but you should be cutting up some veg to roast in that vessel and collect the drippings. Mmmm.

                                  1. re: harrism

                                    In fact I either do that or fill an inch of water to collect the drippings to reduce

                                  2. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                    I have not done it exactly that way but do advocate spatchcocking for even browning/cripsing and cooking in a shorter amount of time

                                  3. Use the cast iron and preheat it on the stovetop while prepping the chicken. Lay the chicken back-side down in the hot pan and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat. This gives the dark meat a head start on the white meat so when you put it in the oven, both types of meat will be done at the same time. it also crisps up the back and thigh skin which can be really flabby if it's not exposed to direct heat.

                                    This way you get brown, crispy, well rendered skin on both top and bottom sides without tiresome flipping.

                                    1. Any baking dish/pan with a rack to hold the bird off the bottom.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I do the Zuni chicken in a CI skillet with no rack. Works perfectly. Today I'm doing Will Owen's pork shoulder and in place of a rack I make a 'donut' of foil.

                                      2. Of your choices, cast iron skillet.

                                        Use the Zuni method.

                                        Never cover it.

                                        1. I use a Cuisinart 12" SS skillet. It ahs a helper handle which is nice. There are hundreds of recipes for "perfect roast chicken". Most work. Just don't overthink it. If you have access to it read Michael Ruhlman's take on it in Twenty. Jacque Pepin's method is good, too.

                                          1. I use a wire rack over a sheet pan.

                                            1. For birds under five pounds, I use a 32-cm gratin pan (enameled cast iron). For bigger ones, I haul out the roasting pan (11" x 14").

                                              I rub butter or olive oil with herbs and salt and pepper under the skin and on top of the skin, and it crisps up beautifully. The chicken sits on a "rack" that's a bed of onions/celery/carrots cut into inch chunks and drizzled with a bit of oil. Often I put a half a lemon &/or a whole clove or two of garlic in the cavity.

                                              I cover the breast with a foil shield for the first 45 minutes of roasting, then remove. [Unfolded, it becomes the "tent" for the bird while it rests before being carved.] Have never tried the breast-down-then-up-to-finish method, but would do that if I didn't have foil.

                                              Happy roasting!