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Roasting a Chicken

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This thread reminds me of Mark Bittman's "Fastest Roast Chicken."

Put a cast-iron pan in the oven while you're preheating to 450. Season the chicken and plop it in the pan. (I put a temperature probe in the thigh before the plopping.) Wait 30 minutes, or until the temp is 155 or so.

Done. One of the best effort/result ratios to be found in cooking.

I tried this method for dinner last night with a three-pound, unbrined, grocery-store-brand chicken, and the chicken was delicious. The skin was well browned and slightly crispy, while the breast meat was very juicy and tender. The inside of the oven was a bit oily from greasy spatters, but definitely the slight mess is worth it, for the time saved and the delicious results. This "recipe" is a keeper.

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So, I've decided that I want to roast a whole chicken - nothing fancy, just in the oven with maybe some herbs and such. I've never done it before, and in general don't have a whole lot of experience cooking poultry (I was a vegetarian for a long time). Do any of you have any tips for my maiden chicken roasting voyage? I especially want to avoid drying out the bird.

I looked in RecipeGullet and did some searches in the conferences but didn't come up with anything. If it's been discussed and I just missed it, feel free to post the link to the appropriate previous thread.

Many thanks!

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Brine it. Dry it very well. Season with salt. Stick some herbs maybe half an orange in the cavity. some dabs of butter on top. Stick in a hot 400 degree oven. Baste every once in a while.

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Spatchcock it.

This means simply that you cut out the backbone with kitchen shears and flatten the chicken out. Alternatively, you can cut through the breastbone with a knife and flatten it out the other way.

Once spatchcocked, you can throw it skin side down in a hot pan to brown the skin before flipping it over and finishing in the oven.


--

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Spatchcocking might be a little extreme for an ex-vegetarian's first chicken. My wife can't stand to watch me do it and she's never been a vegetarian.

For a first time chicken roaster, I think simplicity is key.

Tuck some fresh herbs under the breast skin (also slightly gross for those not used to working with raw meat and dead animals). Dry the skin with paper towels. Shove some citrus in the butt and put on a rack in a roasting pan. Put in a 400 degree oven and cook until done.

Done depends on the size of the bird. One of these thermometer things can be helpful in watching for doneness without opening and closing the oven. Look for 155 degrees or so for the breast and 165 or so from the thigh. I think you can assume about 18 minutes per pound.

Have fun.

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Spatchcocking might be a little extreme for an ex-vegetarian's first chicken.  My wife can't stand to watch me do it and she's never been a vegetarian.

:laugh:

My wife and daughter run from the room if they even hear me cutting through the ribs!


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Thank you so much!  You all are great.  Looks like I have a bunch of reading to do...

It's really not that hard. The first time I roasted a chicken, I bought a Perdue Oven-Stuffer-Roaster with a pop-out timer and put it in the oven until the timer popped out. It was fine. Not as good as a chicken could be of course, but it was moist and tasty and no one complained.

Just remember to take all the icky parts out of the cavity first.

And yes, we are all great. At least I am. :cool:


Edited by Stone (log)

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For a first time chicken roaster, I think simplicity is key.

Good point.

Might even consider picking up bone-in breasts & some whole legs & cooking in a pan on the stove-top.

Working with a whole chicken might be a bit much depending on comfort levels.

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I just made a great roast chicken last night. I followed Cook's Illustrated The Best Recipe cookbook. I was dubious at first...but it was the best chicken I have ever made.

Preheat oven to 375

Rub butter all over the critter and season with S & P

Place the bird ON IT'S SIDE on a V rack in a roasting pan

Bake for 20 minutes.

Rotate the bird to it's other side

Bake for 20 minutes

Place the chicken on it's back (breast side up)

and bake approx 30 min. or until done

The breast was tender and juicy . Absolutely fabulous and easy to do!


After taking a mouthful of boiling hot coffee, what ever you do next is wrong.

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All this talk of spatchcocking (sounds like an odd medieval sport, but whatever...) has made me think that perhaps one of the masters of this might consider doing an eGCI short course with photos.  Anyone?

Please!

And yes, it does sound like a medieval sport.

How fun to tell people you spatchcocked over the weekend and let them guess just what the heck it was you did. Heh.


Sherri A. Jackson

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All this talk of spatchcocking (sounds like an odd medieval sport, but whatever...) has made me think that perhaps one of the masters of this might consider doing an eGCI short course with photos.  Anyone?

Soon as I get my hands on a digital camera, I'll do just that.

How fun to tell people you spatchcocked over the weekend and let them guess just what the heck it was you did.  Heh.

I think "spatchcock" should be an eGullet slogan. Like maybe the logo thongs could say "spatchcock this."


--

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I think "spatchcock" should be an eGullet slogan.  Like maybe the logo thongs could say "spatchcock this."

:laugh: The logo boxers too.

But not the infant creeper. :huh:


Sherri A. Jackson

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brine it...

make herb butter and rub under the skin as well as on the outside of it....

baste....make gravy with the pan jus.....enjoy


"Make me some mignardises, &*%$@!" -Mateo

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I just made a great roast chicken last night. I followed Cook's Illustrated The Best Recipe cookbook. I was dubious at first...but it was the best chicken I have ever made.

Preheat oven to 375

Rub butter all over the critter and season with S & P

Place the bird ON IT'S SIDE on a V rack in a roasting pan

Bake for 20 minutes.

Rotate the bird to it's other side

Bake for 20 minutes

Place the chicken on it's back (breast side up)

and bake approx 30 min. or until done

The breast was tender and juicy . Absolutely fabulous and easy to do!

James Beard's method was very similar, but included larding one side of the chicken with blanched bacon (on the first up side for the first 20 min). I am sure the bacon is probably a big leap for an ex-vegetarian's first roast chicken (unless he wants to take a BIG leap away from vegetarianism.) But, the bacon provides some more drippings to baste with and keeps the bird moist. I baste constantly (every 8-10 minutes). When you baste, take the chicken out as opposed to basting it in the oven. That way you won't lose as much oven heat (obviously you need to close the oven door while basting.)


Edited by mikeycook (log)

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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If simplicity is key, rinse, salt and pepper, oven. When leg is wiggly, take it out. Rest, eat.

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Unless you like chicken sashimi, DO NOT use the recipe in James Peterson's Glorious French Food. But that's just my opinion. :raz:

And while you may not learn how to roast a chicken, you should certainly be amused by the thread that guajalote linked to; it was like a live version of "The Restaurant" right here on eGullet! :wacko::wacko:

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I just made a great roast chicken last night. I followed Cook's Illustrated The Best Recipe cookbook. I was dubious at first...but it was the best chicken I have ever made.

Preheat oven to 375

Rub butter all over the critter and season with S & P

Place the bird ON IT'S SIDE on a V rack in a roasting pan

Bake for 20 minutes.

Rotate the bird to it's other side

Bake for 20 minutes

Place the chicken on it's back (breast side up)

and bake approx 30 min. or until done

The breast was tender and juicy . Absolutely fabulous and easy to do!

I use this method regularly, and it comes out great. The only other thing that I would add is make sure that you let the bird rest 10-15 minutes before cutting into it.

IMHO, If you want roast chicken then I think you want to work with a whole bird, not with bone in breasts or legs.


Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

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I agree. I do this as well (with and without bacon).


"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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The recipe below is from a previous e-Gullet thread. It's very simple, even though the recipe is very detailed (and helpful), and I use it again and again. It always comes out great and makes the best roast chicken ever (sorry Mom). One of the biggest "revelations" for me was realizing that drying the darned chicken makes such a big difference! (Anyway, the "I" in the recipe below is not me.) Many thanks, still, to Yvonne.

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

One has to start somewhere, and what draws me to Hazan's recipe is its reliability and simplicity. Even Hazan writes that "again and again, through the years, I meet people who come up to me to say, 'I have made your chicken with two lemons and it is the most amazingly simple recipe, the juiciest, best-tasting chicken I have ever had'". I agree and guests at our home always say how good this dish is.

I've made it as detailed as possible. I heartily recommend Hazan's book (previously mentioned):

Needed in kitchen [list mine]:

Roasting pan--Aluminum or enameled cast iron (10 inches wide, 14 inches long approx, 2-3 inches deep).

Paper towels

Implements to remove chicken from pan--e.g., large fork

Oven gloves

Cooking foil

Tooth picks/skewer

String

Meat thermometer (optional)

My adaptation of Hazan's Roast chicken with lemons

Ingredients:

3 pound (approx) chicken [this will serve four]

Salt

Black pepper, freshly ground

2 small lemons [sunkist lemons are particularly good just now--thin skins and juicy]

I am now paraphrasing Hazan's instructions and adding my own in brackets

1. [Look inside oven, and make sure that the racks are assembled in such a way that will allow pan with chicken in upper part of oven.] Turn on oven and preheat to 350F

2. [inspect cavity of bird and remove any giblets (e.g., neck, liver) and discard.] Run cold tap water over the chicken, inside and out. [This will kills a lot of bacteria if there are any.] Place chicken on a cutting board or big plate, and with generous amounts of paper towel dry inside and outside of bird. Get chicken as dry as possible.

3. Spread and rub in salt & pepper [Hazan doesn't quantify--I'd say around 2 teaspoons salt, one teaspoon pepper] inside and outside of chicken

4. Rinse lemons under tap, dry with towel. Roll lemons between your palm and counter-top a couple of times [this will release juices], then puncture them several times with sharp tool--e.g., fork, skewer.

5. Put lemons inside cavity. [sometimes two won't fit, so I cut the second in half and put in one and one half.] [With chicken breast-up] close the opening loosely with tooth pick, or small skewer or needle and thread but no need to close very tightly. Take some string and tie the two legs together at the knuckle. This is done in order to keep the legs from moving in the cooking and tearing the skin.

6. Place chicken breast up* in roasting pan, and put in oven. Do not add fat as this dish is self-basting.

Wash sink and surfaces that have come into contact with the chicken with hot soapy water.

7. Cook for one hour. [Take a look after around 45 mins and see if the breast looks as though it's taking on too brown a color. If so, cover only the breast with piece of foil.]

8. After one hour, turn oven up to 400F and cook for 20 minutes more. [This will get the skin crispy, and I remove foil, if using it, about 10 mins before end.] Allow 20 to 25 minutes' TOTAL cooking period per pound of chicken.

9. [To test whether chicken is done pierce and see whether juices are clear. If pinkish, more cooking is needed. If using meat thermometer, don't push it in so far that it touches the bone. Bone does not well reflect temperature of meat. Also, place thermometer in thickest part which takes the longest to cook. So place thermometer in the thigh. Remove chicken from oven when thigh reaches 165F. Let rest at room temperature for around 10 minutes during which time bird will continue to cook. Final temperature will be 165-175F. Source: Stephen Schmidt's Master recipes: A new approach to the fundamentals of good cooking].

10. [Remove chicken when done and on stable surface, take large fork, or something similar, and tilt chicken so that juices escape from loosely closed opening into pan. Place chicken on platter/carving board. With spoon scrape all remaining traces of chicken skin, and juices from the pan and pour into a little jug. If overly greasy, remove excess fat with spoon. Serve as accompaniment or simply pour over chicken pieces once carved.]

11. Carve and eat.

*Hazan suggests putting bird breast-down for first half hour then turning over for rest of cooking time. Both g. and I agree that this leads to breast skin sticking slightly to bottom, and we have better results cooking breast-up throughout.

The above recipe now looks much more complicated than it actually is and looks twice as long as Hazan's. Oh, dear. I think I may have spelled it out too much. Though if nothing else it was instructive for me to articulate what I do with the recipe. Despite the length, I will not accept that this is a complicated recipe.

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I just made a great roast chicken last night. I followed Cook's Illustrated The Best Recipe cookbook. I was dubious at first...but it was the best chicken I have ever made.

Preheat oven to 375

Rub butter all over the critter and season with S & P

Place the bird ON IT'S SIDE on a V rack in a roasting pan

Bake for 20 minutes.

Rotate the bird to it's other side

Bake for 20 minutes

Place the chicken on it's back (breast side up)

and bake approx 30 min. or until done

The breast was tender and juicy . Absolutely fabulous and easy to do!

I use this method regularly, and it comes out great. The only other thing that I would add is make sure that you let the bird rest 10-15 minutes before cutting into it.

IMHO, If you want roast chicken then I think you want to work with a whole bird, not with bone in breasts or legs.

You are absolutely right. I forgot to add the part about letting the bird rest. When I take the bird out, I then make gravy from the drippings...which takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Last night we feasted on the remains of the bird. Breast was still juicy. Yum :biggrin:


After taking a mouthful of boiling hot coffee, what ever you do next is wrong.

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Arrgh! Cakewalk, the entire point to Marcella's recipe is that cooking the chix breast-side down first bastes the breast and ensures it stays juicy. If sticking is a problem, a little oil or butter rubbed on the breast takes care of it.

Chicken with two lemons is one of those perfect recipes that should not be messed with, imo.

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Arrgh!  Cakewalk, the entire point to Marcella's recipe is that cooking the chix breast-side down first bastes the breast and ensures it stays juicy.  If sticking is a problem, a little oil or butter rubbed on the breast takes care of it.

Chicken with two lemons is one of those perfect recipes that should not be messed with, imo.

I've done this version quite a bit.

A small piece of foil between the breast & roasting pan works wonders.

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It's really not that hard.  The first time I roasted a chicken, I bought a Perdue Oven-Stuffer-Roaster with a pop-out timer and put it in the oven until the timer popped out.

I roasted my first chicken last night and did the same thing. Although, I used the cast-iron skillet method mentioned in another thread.

Heated the oven to 450 with the skillet inside. Plopped the bird (Perdue garlic seasoned bird - it was on sale, and I'm cheap:blush: ) onto the skillet and roasted until the do-hickey popped out. Let the bird rest while I made gravy. I have to say, it's one of the best roasted chickens I've ever had. The skin was perfectly crisp and the meat was VERY juicy. I was so surprised. My mother used to spend forever treating the bird before roasting (stuffing butter and garlic and rosemary beneath the skin, etc.) and then constantly basting. Her's was good, but I think the throw-it-in-the-skillet method yielded equally good results, and I didn't do a thing.


Sherri A. Jackson

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Arrgh!  Cakewalk, the entire point to Marcella's recipe is that cooking the chix breast-side down first bastes the breast and ensures it stays juicy.  If sticking is a problem, a little oil or butter rubbed on the breast takes care of it.

Chicken with two lemons is one of those perfect recipes that should not be messed with, imo.

Well then, don't mess with it. :smile:

I've made it both ways. If I'm busy and doing other things, I don't turn it. Otherwise, I do. And yes, I think it makes a difference. But not enough to upset me either way. :wacko:

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