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Roasting a Chicken


lullyloo
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There are two predominate schools of thought on Roasting chicken. One side prefers higher heat and quicker roasting. Then there is the side that I'm on. The whole point of Roast Chicken for me is the slow cooked flavor from the bones. Depending on the oven I keep the temp at 325-350 degrees. Salt and pepper on the chicken, inside and out. Maybe some garlic, maybe some lemon, if I feel like it I drizzle some olive oil on the outside. The secret to a moist meat throughout and crispy skin is frequent basting. Works everytime. Super tender, most meat and thin crispy skin. So simple and satisying. Great pan juices.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Some people say that breasts have no flavor, but I definately find some flavor there.  My favorite use of breasts, though, is in recipes that call for strips or chunks of chicken.  In those cases the extra texture of the breast meat just makes it much more enjoyable.  Thighs have too much a tendancy to become rubbery or soft in my experience.

I toss the breasts into the plastic bag in the freezer with the necks and backs for use in stock. I haven't decided if this is worth the trouble.

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You use breasts to make stock? Seems like theres not enough flavour in the breasts to make a decent stock and would be a waste of good chicken breast. Breast meat can be tender and succulent if cooked right, marinading, brining and spice rubs can all boost the flavour content and short, high heat cooking will leave you with juicy, tender meat.

PS: I am a guy.

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  • 1 year later...

It's a ghastly confession but I'm still having trouble dealing with a whole chicken.

Whether I use time/weight charts, a meat thermometer or just cook 'til the juices run clear, I'll still get either overcooked and dry breast or raw near the thigh joint.

Ideas tried so far....

1. Mcgee's ice packs on the breast

2. Proprietary chicken stand that holds the thing upright

3. Beercan (which does the same)

4. Jamie's thigh slashing trick

5. Cooking breast down

6. Using two smaller birds

7. Rotisseries - One built into an oven and one I found in a skip outside a kebab shop

8. Deep frying the whole bird

The only thing that really seems to work is Escoffier's classic Poulet Saute, which is really something entirely different, but at least ends up serving most of the bird.

Is the whole roast bird just a stupid idea? Is it some kind of elemental, caveman thing that taps into our notions of family eating but is always destined to taste grim?

Help me out here. I'm doing one for the inlaws on Sunday and I don't want to poison them...

...honest!

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Probably too short of notice for this Sunday's dinner, but Paula Wolfert gave me one of these Römertopf Chicken Roasters and I swear there is no way to NOT have a succulent, juicy bird. With even roasting all the way around, the clay to provide inner moisture, and the circular dish to catch all the fat dripping, I have gone from cooking poultry once a year to bi-monthly. I throw some fingerling potatoes in the bottom about half-way through the bird's cooking, and the fat beautifully sautees the potatoes.

Edited to add -- I guess in light of the time constraint, I'd go with the beer can concept; similar to the Römertopf without the glitz and glamour.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Re-reading their site, one has to laugh at their lack of a proofreader or editor (the bold is mine):

Romertopf Clay Bakers prepare quick, high-quality and healthy dishes

Cooking in porous, unglazed clay will increase flavor, tenderness and enable food to retain its natural nutrients and vitmamins

For ther serious chef, or the everyday cook

Ideal for vegetarians and the diet conscious

Ideal for oven or microwave

Cleans easily

Edited by Carolyn Tillie (log)
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I like to use the method in THe Zuni Cafe Cookbook for the bread salad. Turns out everytime. Thinking about it, that is what Iwill do for dinner tonight.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I've taken to roasting mine in a casserole without the lid on. Oven at around 180 Turn the chicken sideways onto the thigh for 15 minutes, 15 minutes on the other thigh and then 15 minutes with the breast up to brown. Iit is unrealistic IMO to expect to cook each element perfectly. I more often cook the thighs seperately the following day

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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romertopf are good (but mine cracked, so haven't used for years).

I go for:

- the standard 20 minutes per lb

- cover breast with streaky bacon

- baste regularly throughout

- cover breast with foil when suitably brown

and

- rest for a good length of time.

The resting does seem to make the difference for me, as lengthy resting seems to allow the juices in the breast to return throughout the meat - upturning the bird when cooked can help this too.

PS I've never managed to poison my inlaws yet (more's the pity).

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Its all about preparation, basting and temperature. This is what I do every Sunday with 10 chickens. I allow 1.5 cooking and resting time and then the chickens with hold for up to 1 hour ready to serve.

1. Cut a lemon in half and drop it into a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Take it out and stuff it into the cavity of the bird with rosemary & thyme stalks, garlic with skin on but crushed and seasoning.

2. With the chicken stuffed, lay it on a flat surface with its bum towards your crotch (hmm...that sounds dirty). Gently separate the skin from the neck running down the breasts. Between the skin and the breasts put knobs of butter, rosemary and lemon lemon zest. Rub the chicken all over with butter, maldon salt and pepper.

3. Put the chicken in a roasting tray with some stock vegetables (leek, carrot, onion coursley chopped) and put into a very hot oven for 15 minutes. This is crucial to getting crispy skin but keeping a moist bird.

4. After 15 minutes you should notice a change of colour and moisture should start to appear. If so, turn the oven down to 180c. As Mr Grant suggested you could cover it with foil but I tend not too as this inhibits crispy skin. Instead I baste the bird with the juices it creates (or sometimes a pour 1/2 bottle of white wine into the tray to make gravy half way during the cooking). I baste it about 4-5 times until the bird is cooked including putting juice into the birds cavity. I know it is cooked by cutting between the drumstick and the body - i.e. the birds armbit. If when it is almost cooked but the skin is not the required crispiness, I wack the heat up to full blast for no more than 10 minutes.

5. Leave it to rest for 15 minutes on top of your stove with some foil over the top while you strain of the juices and reduce the gravy until disired consistency.

This works for me. If it doesn't for you, I would use the princples I do and try it a couple of times making adjustments on flavourings, temperature vs. size of bird etc until you get it right rather that varying from recipie to recipie.

Good luck.

bakerestates

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i would agree that is hard to cook both legs and breast correctly at the same time, this works for me....

at it's simplest and speediest i cut the legs off, the wing tips & the end of the carcus

leaving a 'crown' and cavity.

i then fry the bird all over to crisp the skin in a frying pan with butter and olive oil, take it out of the pan and into a hot oven (i only ever use it on it's hottest setting) on a rack with water underneath.

Your choice whether to stick a lemon in the cavity or some garlic cloves, or put some veg into the water, which makes good gravy at the same time, and stops the fat from burning.

the chicken will cook quite quickly 30 -45mins but i usually double check with a thermometer.

if i was planning to use the legs i'd brown them first and put in the oven, 20 mins before the bird perhaps to ensure they were done.

you don't win friends with salad

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apart from the lemon up the bottom, I also put butter on the breast - but under the skin so that it doesn't fall off in the cooking. (need to carefully separate so as not to tear the skin. and some olive oil and S&P on top

times are 18 min per lb or 20 mins per half kilo - with extra 15-20 mins on top.

so 1.5 kg bird gets about 75-80 mins

also tend to baste a few times during cooking ...

Cooked breast side up, and rested for at least 10 mins after coming out of the oven.

so far, touch wood, birds are cooked and succulent. Also also lots of juices afterwards to which I add extra lemon juice to serve

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Long time low temperature (140F/55C bottom oven of the AGA) for 6 hours, then flash the skin (250C/500F) for 10 mins

I go with this. Did a Label Anglais chicken with a slice of lemon and four cloves garlic inside. The juices were FAB. Also spread loads of butter around, and s&p.

Best £10 I have spent recently. Except for the oysters scallops and roast cauliflower, that is.

slacker,

Padstow, Cornwall

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For me to get the best from a chicken remove the legs and press them overnight (as for confit) with garlic, rock salt and any herbs you choose. Wash them and confit them very slowly for about 4 hours (the better the bird the longer they will take). When cooked fry them skin down until very crispy and serve with the remaining crown of chicken browned and roasted for about 20 - 25 mins depending on size and variety of chicken (rest for at least 15). Flavour the chicken as you roast however you wish, i think the cheaper the chicken the more herbs, garlic, lemon you would probably want to use. Then serve as a normal roast.

The quest for perfection will lead you to role models that will last you for life (Nico Ladenis)

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apart from the lemon up the bottom, I also put butter on the breast - but under the skin so that it doesn't fall off in the cooking.  (need to carefully separate so as not to tear the skin.  and some olive oil and S&P on top

times are 18 min per lb or 20 mins per half kilo - with extra 15-20 mins on top.

so 1.5 kg bird gets about 75-80 mins

also tend to baste a few times during cooking ...

Cooked breast side up, and rested for at least 10 mins after coming out of the oven.

so far, touch wood, birds are cooked and succulent.  Also also lots of juices afterwards to which I add extra lemon juice to serve

What sort of temperature are you talking about? IMO 80 minutes for a 1.5 kg bird is a long time. I cooked a 1.6kg bird for 30 minutes the other day at 180 and the breast was easily cooked. The legs however do need a bit longer. I would fear for the breast meat if you cooked it for 80 minutes :unsure:

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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It's a question of expectation. Traditionally in French and Cantonese cooking, the meat is pink at the bone, which some balk at. One soon comes to realise that the taste and texture are much better like this,though, and there's no reason for it to be unsafe. It takes too high an internal temperature to get rid of the pinkness. Of course this assumes that you're roasting proper chickens.

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I've tried many ways to roast chicken, often successfully, but my favorite way is using the Romertoff (?spelling), as previously mentioned.

What I do prior to putting the chicken into the soaked Romertoff (I usually soak for 30 minutes) is to lightly brine it (throw the bird into a pot of seawater-salty water for 1.5 hrs). I place the chicken into the Romertoff, into which I have placed a head of cauliflour florettes (I find this the best also to roast cauliflour).drizzle EVOO, throw a cut up lemon into the cavity, add S&P and a couple cloves of garlic. Place the Romertoff in a cold oven and turn the temp to 220C and usually cook a 1.5kg chicken for about 1 hour. The breast always is moist, and the legs perfectly cooked.

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I tend to get the best results by brining the bird first. I stuff mine with my favorite herbs, usually thyme, and plenty of chopped onions. I think the onions really do a lot to maintain moisture in the chicken's meat versus other stuffings. Of course, salt & pepper inside and out. And slather the thing in butter. I use a roasting rack, and turn the chicken twice so that it ends breast down. Once removed from the oven, be sure to let it rest long enough. The bird will continue to cook just a bit after it's been removed from the residual heat, so don't let it in the oven too long.

I also find that gas ovens make for more juicy meat. Electric heat may be more consistent temperature-wise, but gas produces a "wetter" heat; I think the ambient moisture affects the way the chicken cooks.

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Since you want it whole, spatchcocking it is out.

Well, though, a spatchcocked chicken is practically whole. It's all in one piece, anyway. I find this by far the best way to get an evenly cooked chicken with a beautiful skin:

Cut out the backbone (i.e., spatchcock). Put under the broiler (as close as possible) skin side down for about ten minutes. Remove, and set the oven rack for roasting, turning the oven temperature to 425F. Turn the chicken over, skin side up, and rub butter all over every bit of skin. Liberally salt the skin and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Return to the oven for about thirty-five minutes for a modest-sized chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds). Baste once or twice. Beautiful, especially if you start with a really good chicken. For a larger bird, partly cutting through the flesh at the two leg joints and where the wing joins the body will help even out the cooking time.

I take the above procedure from a Julia & Jacques program.

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It's a question of expectation. Traditionally in French and Cantonese cooking, the meat is pink at the bone, which some balk at. One soon comes to realise that the taste and texture are much better like this,though, and there's no reason for it to be unsafe. It takes too high an internal temperature to get rid of the pinkness. Of course this assumes that you're roasting proper chickens.

I agree. Also--Tim, I hope you don't take this question amiss, but when you say you wind up with the chicken raw near the thigh joint, are you certain that it's raw, and not just pink from leaking marrow? At least here in the states, a lot of chickens are coming to market young enough that the marrow in their leg bones is not fully matured, such that when cooked the bones leak a little pink/redness into the surrounding meat. A lot of people do mistake that red color for underdone meat, even though the leg meat is fully cooked and safe, and keep cooking the chicken trying to get rid of the redness, resulting in an overcooked bird. Anyway, just sanity-checking here... :smile:

As for me, I use a pretty standard approach to roasting a whole chicken, and I've never produced an inedible bird. At the same time, while I get decently not-dry breasts on my roast chickens, I simply don't expect them to be as moist as the dark meat. To be sure, I always had a preference for the dark meat anyway, so I tend to roast so as to optimize the dark meat, and other than sensible precautions such as generously greasing up the bird and including something either in the cavity or in the pan or both for moisture, I let the breasts kinda fend for themselves.

I also think it helps that my roasting utensil is one of those big old-school cheapo speckleware enameled roasters, with a v-angle rack placed within it (I have a lid for this pan, but don't use it when roasting). I am persuaded that the dark enamel coating on the pan and its relatively high walls help by absorbing heat and radiating it upward/inward at the bird. I also think having the bird up on a rack (as opposed to sitting on the pan bottom, or sitting on a bed of veggies, etc.) helps by getting full air circulation around the bird's bottom, speeding up the cooking of the dark meat so it doesn't lag so much behind the white meat. And then you can put some liquid in the bottom of the pan without having the bird sitting right in the liquid and braising its butt instead of roasting it.

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I will third the suggestion to brine. Use 1 cup kosher salt (you could use 1/2 c. of regular table salt) to 2 gallons water, and brine for 1 hour. Rinse the bird well and roast.

I have roasted brined birds in all sorts of ways, at all different temperatures (though I usually do it fairly high, at 425 F or so, for crisp skin and faster roasting time), with all sorts of stuff inside (lemons or herbs, etc), and it always comes out perfectly. Always. I have never had dried out breasts. I don't have any sort of fancy roaster-I just use a plain old broiling pan. To check for doneness I just use a kitchen thermometer and take it out when it reaches 160-165 F (I think it cooks a bit more while it's resting before I carve it).

I too like to butterfly the chicken, mostly to get all over crispy skin without having to fuss with turning the bird.

Edited by kiliki (log)
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Chicken under a brick is a fantastic, quick way to get succulent chicken. Spatchcock a bird and press it flat skin side down into a cold pan, put some heavy weights on top (I use 2 cast iron pans and some tins of tomatos). Then, put it over medium heat for 10 or so minutes until the skin is crisp and brown. Take it out, drain off most of the fat, then put in in a hot oven for another 10 minutes or so and take it out when the thigh reaches temp. The chicken comes out beautifully and it's much easier to carve as well.

PS: I am a guy.

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