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Roasting a Chicken


lullyloo
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Brining, absolutely, and I cook to 165F in the thigh. As Mizduccky said, joints may be a bit red. Cooking the breast to 180F is a good way to ruin a meal. I have a link to the latest USDA or is it ServSave guidelines around here somewhere. It's probably on an older computer that's not booted up right now. I'll look around in the morning.

Jim

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Thanks everyone.

Since they announced the first case of avian flu in the UK yesterday everyone's running around like - well, headless chickens.

By the look of it there's going to be a whole bunch of discounted free range birds at the market tomorrow so I should be able to try out a lot of these. :biggrin:

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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Breast down, 200C (fan) 20 mins. Turn, 5 more mins, down to 160 till cooked (I use a meat thermometer).

I put a paste of garlic, olive oil (butter works better, actually, but not kosher), and lemon zest under the skin, and salt and paprika on top. I get perfect, moist, crispy-skinned chicken every time. Despite our dubious oven. :)

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  • 4 months later...

i'm new to egullet, and thought i write my first post about the basics, and i though what meal is one of the most basis, but every cook has thier own recipe that they swear by than a roast chicken? i've tried quite a few - buttering the skin, adding a lemon and onion to the cavity for cooking, even injecting things under the skin. the chickens always came out good, but never great.

i finally decided to try the thomas keller method from his 'bouchon cookbook', which is:

1) wash and dry the chicken

2) add salt and pepper to the cavity

3) truss the bird

4) add kosher salt (at least 2 tablespoons) and pepper to the outside of the bird (i cheated here and salted it, left it in the refrigerator for 24 hours, and then re-salted agai before cooking)

5) roast in a saute pan at 450 for 50-60 minutes depending on the size of the bird.

6) remove from oven - add minced thyme to the chicken drippings and baste the bird.

7) let stand 15 minutes on a cutting board, carve, slather meat with butter, and serve with dijon mustard.

i've done this a few times now, and the bird always turns out perfect (you can see a picture <A href="http://www.codcheeks.com/2006/08/cod-cheeks-test-kitchen-roast-chicken.html" target=_blank>here </a>).

ok - so now i want to know, who has a better way? :smile:

brendan jackson

www.codcheeks.com

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Where to begin with the chicken or the cooking, There is so much that can be told.

a, Is the chicken itself the best it can be? Organic, free range, slow grown, properly hung. Getting the right raw material is more than half the battle. It really is worth seeking out. Anything else is a compromise, and often a poor one, especially if its been frozen.

b. Most chicken is overcooked. An hour at 450F certainly is. Buy yourself a digital meat thermometer that can be read from outside the oven. Cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 140F, no more, and hold it at that temperature for 15 mins.

c. There are three separate processes going on when the chicken cooks

One is browning a crisping the skin, the second is cooking the meat, and the third is dissolving the collagen in the tough connective tissue. Each of these processes needs different timing and temperature, and its best to separate them if possible. The skin can be browned and crisped with high heat, for example by turning in a hot pan or under a salamander.

Meat is cooked at 140F, but different thicknesses take longer to reach that temperature, so its sensible not to put the chicken in a very hot oven and overcook the thin bits, while undercooking the thick bits, like the thighs, but to put it in say a 160F oven or poach it at that temperature (the stock pot is handy) for much longer so the temperature can stabilise throughout. The long gentle cooking will also help the collagen to dissolve and make the chicken even more tender. You can then brown the outside separately.

Here is Midsummer House's way with chicken http://www.midsummerhouse.co.uk/pdfs/catererhotel.pdf

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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i agree that the quality of the bird is very important. i live in san francisco so have access to organic meat, and in this case it was a 5lb bird, and after 55 minutes, came at 140 degrees.

thanks for the link to the recipe - i eager to try it. looks like something that will be a bit more time consuming to do than letting a bird alone for 50 minutes to roast then eat!

brendan jackson

www.codcheeks.com

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The other issue I struggle with ingredients-wise is the size of the chicken. Both the Zuni Cafe Cookbook and Keller's Bouchon book seem to call for smaller birds, in the 2.5-3.5 lb range. The thinking is that the higher skin-meat ratio keeps things moist and juice-licious, and that makes sense, but I have trouble finding whole birds that small. Even my local farmer's market seems to only sell chickens ranging from large to gargantuan.

-al

---

al wang

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Beer Can Chicken, my man! Rub it itside and out, with whatever you like -- BBQ rub, Tandoori mix, etc. Stick a can (filled with any liquid -- just plain water is fine) up its ass and grill it over indirect, medium heat coals. Slowly roasted, but extremely moist chicken -- perfection.

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The other issue I struggle with ingredients-wise is the size of the chicken.  Both the Zuni Cafe Cookbook and Keller's Bouchon book seem to call for smaller birds, in the 2.5-3.5 lb range.  The thinking is that the higher skin-meat ratio keeps things moist and juice-licious, and that makes sense, but I have trouble finding whole birds that small.  Even my local farmer's market seems to only sell chickens ranging from large to gargantuan.

-al

It's not difficult to roast a larger bird. Like all else to do with chicken, good results take practice and attention to detail.

If you roast chicken often enough, you'll find there's a set of distinctive scents that tell you when it's time to take a step, or when it's time to not take a step. There are also clear visual cues that should be heeded. The size of the chicken doesn't matter anywhere *near* as much as paying attention to what you're doing does.

The skin having the right level of crispness looks distinctive and smells distinctive. If you're turning the bird, you want the skin that's on the surface to start to have that roasted meat fat crisp smell before you turn. Visual inspection should show that the exposed skin is visibly crispy, and has the level of brownness that you want. If those signs aren't there, don't flip yet. Trust your eyes and nose, not the recipe. The recipe's author didn't have your chicken (or your oven). I've had 8lb birds be easy roasts, with juicy meat and enough pan juices to float a boat. I've had 3lb birds be the most finicky bird ever, and come out dry. And well, I have the most trouble with finicky birds when I'm not roasting much.

Experience will tell you when a particular bird is doomed to being a golden roast and when you've got a deep brown one. I don't use color of the skin as an indicator, because some birds just refuse to go dark without help from a sugar glaze. I'd rather leave the bird plainer and just live with the level of browning the bird will naturally do. The *texture* of the skin being right is more important than the color. You can always help the color along if you really want to. You can't help the texture along.

Emily

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Heres how we do it. Its pretty much the TFL way, but a little different. Thoroughly season the bird with salt and black pepper. Sear the bird at high heat in a saute pan on all sides. Roast UPSIDE DOWN (i.e. breast DOWN) at 350-375 until juices run clear, about 40 minutes or so. Remove from oven and add a gooooood handful of butter, good bunch of fresh thyme, and 4 crushed whole garlic cloves and baste. Remove to a rack to rest 10 minutes. Simple. Perfect. Nothin better.

-Chef Johnny

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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Maybe I have been roasting chickens for a long time, but I don't find it that difficult, nor do I make it difficult.

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Lemon-Garlic Chicken

I keep kosher, which means I use kosher chickens that I purchase from a butcher on my high street. Basically, I wash the chicken. Stuff it with a quartered lemon, several cloves of peeled garlic, a spring of fresh rosemary or a bunch of thyme and I put some rosemary or thyme under the skin of the breast. Place unpeeled garlic cloves and lemon quarters or halves around the chicken, drizzle a little olive oil on top and bake at 180C (approximately 350F) for an hour. It always comes out juicy inside, crispy on the outside.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I've settled into using the Zuni Cafe's recipe exclusively now. It's easy, gives me lots of crispy skin the way I like it, and creates a very flavorful bird. Only drawback is having to plan ahead, but I've found that the pre-salting makes quite a big difference to the quality of the breast meat. Dark meat, not so much.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Help needed. The nice fat bird (which was also a Susan in a former life; the place where I get these name their chickens) is 6.5 pounds. How long? How high? Not stuffed with anything other than herb sprigs and garlic.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I've been roasting chickens for many years and a roast chicken dinner ranks up near the top of favourite meals. I now roast all chickens, whether a little 3 pounder or a nice big free range chicken using Barbara Kafka's high heat method (500F). Turns out perfect every time. I roast turkeys the same way. And I always end up with the most wonderful pan drippings to make gravy.

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Well, I did the chicken on Sunday night. It was a most amazing chicken, raised by some Menonite 4-H kids. What so surprised us was how chickeney it tasted. More meaty that a supermarket chicken, kosher and Smart Chickens included. I used a high heat method (450, not 500), and what also amazed us was how red this meat was in the dark meat parts. The plus was that the chicken came in a plastic bag, frozen, and had a name!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I, for years before it was popular, roasted chickens in a hot (F 450*) oven. However the legs on these high temp cooked birds, I find, are dry and good for soup only.

I now cook birds with a combination of hot and slow oven temps: F 450* until the thigh ....between the thigh and the breast actually... reaches F 110*- F 120* to sterilize the skin and then I lower the oven temp to F 250* (or lower depending on how much time I have until serving) and continue to roast until the thigh (between the thigh and breast) temp reaches ~ F 150*. The bird sits uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes out of the oven before carving. I find all the meat on these birds is moist.... wet actually... and delicious. I don't mind a little pinkness around the thigh bone where it attaches to the body. I never truss birds as I find the thigh meat does not cook as well as when the legs are akimbo. I never brine birds cooked like this.

If however I am cooking whole chickens elsewhere where I am not in control of the time, I always brine these birds and cook them in a very hot oven. These birds are cooked to higher inner thigh temp. as most people think chicken if it is pink around the thigh bone is not cooked properly.

"Flay your Suffolk bought-this-morning sole with organic hand-cracked pepper and blasted salt. Thrill each side for four minutes at torchmark haut. Interrogate a lemon. Embarrass any tough roots from the samphire. Then bamboozle till it's al dente with that certain je ne sais quoi."

Arabella Weir as Minty Marchmont - Posh Nosh

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I, for years before it was popular, roasted chickens in a hot (F 450*) oven. However the legs on these high temp cooked birds, I find,  are dry and good for soup only.

One way to combat this is to either cut off the end of the leg (that knob) or to cut at the bottom of the leg all the way through the skin and tendons. The leg's sort of resemble lollipops and cook much more like the thigh (thanks to Sam for teaching me about this important step!).

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I haven't been around long enough this summer to cook much of anything, but the current cold front and this thread got me in the mood to roast a bird. Since gus_tatory asked for a quick demo on deboning via the glove method, that's what I did.

One four pound air-chilled bird. One paring knife, one boning knife.

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Cut out the wishbone from the front and expose the wing joint from the inside. Cut through each so that you get something that looks like the following:

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Carefully cut away the shoulder blades and then use your fingers and a paring knife to move the meat away from the bones. Turn the bird as you're doing this. When working on the back, be very careful because it's very thin. Cut through to the little oysters of meat at the top of the hip.

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Turn the bird around and cut the meat away from the bones via the abdominal cavity. Then pull out the breastbone.

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Expose the thigh bone and then cut it away. If you want, continue cutting out the drumsticks as well, but I find that the final roasted bird doesn't look right.

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Cut underneath the pelvis on both sides, and then gently use a knife to roll the skin away from the bone.

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Cut the backbone loose and remove (that's chicken blood on my fingers in case anyone's wondering).

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One bird with only bones in the drumsticks and wings…

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… and a little pile of bones destined for fond blanc.

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Total time for this bird: 20 minutes.

Total time when I don't stop after every cut to take photos: less than 5 minutes.

The chicken skeleton gets replaced with porky goodness. I minced a pound of boneless pork loin chops and mixed with cooked mirepoix, lobster mushrooms, duck fat and port. Additional mirepoix and lobster mushroom mix is stuffed under the skin. By the way, this wasn't enough pork; I would double the amount for similar-sized birds in the future.

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The reformed bird needs to be tied to reshape it back into something which looks like it has a skeleton. The bamboo skewer isn't trimmed because I use it as an anchor point for the truss.

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Ready for roasting.

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After roasting (note to self: don't rub the bird with mirin; the stuff has sugar in it). 425ºF for 20 minutes, 375ºF for 60 minutes, rested for 20 minutes.

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Sliced bird (look ma, no bones!).

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Plated bird (been a while since I plated anything - need practice). Sauce made with port, pan drippings and demi-glace, and adjusted with honey, salt and cayenne. Served with a 2001 Dr. H Thanisch Bernkasteler Badstube Spätlese because I wanted to try out my new Riedel Riesling glasses.

gallery_10423_3617_135626.jpg

Edited by wattacetti (log)
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Wow, Wattacetti, your stuffed boned chicken looks amazing. That is one of my husbands favourite meals. I use a slightly slightly different method of boning and I usually bone out the wings and the legs too. Thanks for the detail pictures. I'll have to give your method a try next time.

Ann

Edited by Ann_T (log)
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