Roasted chicken floats my boat. It rocks my world, makes my taste buds do a jig and if I am being truthful the aroma of a roasting bird causes my salivary glands to do their job very, very well…in other words, I drool. Roasted chickens are easy to make, pretty foolproof to cook, fairly budget friendly, extremely versatile, make delicious leftovers, not to mention when you serve one everyone will sing your praises. I mean really, look at this exquisite bird!
Obviously I am a fan, but despite my persistent ‘roasted chicken ravings’ sometimes I sense resistance from my readers. I get comments in my inbox like “this looks too hard” or “I am afraid to cook a whole bird”. This simply will not do! No one should miss out on this healthy, delicious staple because of a little self doubt or squeamishness. My mission today is to set those of you with fears at ease by addressing the most frequently asked questions I get about the process of roasting a bird.
Handling Raw Chicken: Breathe, It’s All Going to be OK
I get it. Touching raw meat freaks some people out. That is ok. Trust me, you will get over it. I don’t say that to be glib, I say it because it’s true. Most of us have an aversion to touching raw meat at first but after the first one or two times we get over it. So take a deep breath, be sure to wash your hands well before and after handling, and dive right in.
Preparing Your Bird for Cooking
Simply remove giblets from the cavity (setting aside for later use in broth), remove any quills left in bird, if needed cut off excess fat from around the cavity, rinse bird inside and out, then pat dry with a paper towel.
Choosing a Roasting Pan, Lid or No Lid? Using a Rack, Trussing
Whether you use a roasting pan with a lid or a pan without a lid (affiliate links) will completely depend on the recipe you are following. Generally chickens roasted in a pan with a lid are cooked at a lower temperature for a longer time and are ‘fall off the bone’ tender. Those roasted in a pan without a lid are cooked at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time and aren’t quite as tender but have a delicious crispy skin! You can also roast a chicken in a cast iron skillet! (affiliate link)
To cook two birds at once use a turkey roasting pan.
Using a rack: Most roasting pans come with a rack. Some racks are flat, other are in the shape of a ‘V’. The purpose of a rack is to lift the chicken off the pan. Is using a rack necessary? It just depends on what you want. If I am roasting a chicken by itself, I will place it on a rack. If I am roasting it surrounded with vegetables I like to have the chicken nestled right in the veggies. Either way, you can’t go wrong. The rack does make the skin on the bottom of the chicken crispier because it isn’t sitting in the juices, so if that is important to you use a rack.
Trussing: Trussing simply means tying the legs together using trussing string or reusable silicon bands (affiliate links). Trussing and tucking the birds wings behind it’s back make for more even cooking and make the bird look a little prettier.
Size Matters: Cooking Time
One of the most frequent questions I get about roasting chicken is “How do I know if it’s done?” This is a great question! If you are following a recipe, hopefully it’s pretty accurate, that said, oven temperatures vary and if the person that developed the recipe hasn’t had their oven calibrated recently or you haven’t, or altitude is a factor, there can be a discrepancy in cooking time.
Another factor when it comes to cooking time: size. I have had people tell me their chicken took a half hour longer to cook than I stated in a recipe. I then ask if they bought a 4 lb chicken like the recipe called for and more often than not they answer with “No, my store didn’t have one so I bought a 5.5 lb chicken.” DOH! Try to purchase a chicken as close to the size in the recipe as you can, especially if the recipe calls for roasting veggies in the same pan. If you don’t have a choice here is the general rule: if the chicken you buy is larger than called for in the recipe allow 15 minutes more cooking time per pound. If the chicken is smaller than the recipe calls for subtract 15 minutes cooking time per pound. You will know if the chicken is done when thigh juices run clear. I have roasted enough chickens that I know when a chicken is done but if you need some reassurance an “insta-read” meat thermometer (affiliate link) is a tool you will want to invest in, it takes all the guess work out of the equation and only costs a few bucks!
Seasoning, Stuffing, Glazing, Browning and Basting
When it comes to using seasonings there are several options. Some recipes call for seasoning the outside of the bird and some call for seasoning the inside and the outside. Another delicious choice is using your hand to separate the skin from the meat and placing the seasonings in between. One way to make seasoning a raw bird easier, especially for those concerned about cross contamination is to designate one hand for touching the chicken and one hand for handling spices. This makes the process go much faster because you won’t have to stop and wash your hands over and over. Having a battery operated pepper grinder (affiliate link) is really convenient! No need to grind with two hands, allowing you to have one hand free, again preventing the possibility of cross contamination.
Another way to add flavor to roasted chicken is by stuffing it with herbs, spices and or fruit. The flavors permeate the bird during roasting!
Glazes are a great way to flavor a chicken as well as create a beautiful brown skin. Usually glazes are brushed on the last few minutes of cooking. Basting the chicken also creates a golden crispy skin and make the final outcome more moist and tender.
Allowing Chicken to ‘Rest’, Carving
After removing a chicken from the oven it is important to let it ‘rest’ for at least ten minutes before carving. Resting allows the juices to redistribute so the meat is super moist.
Now after creating a roasted chicken masterpiece you don’t want to rip it to shreds. Watch this video tutorial to see how to carve a bird so it looks as pretty when serving as it looked when it came out of the oven!
Broth: Waste Not, Want Not
Back in the day your grandma (or great grandma for you young un’s) didn’t waste any part of a chicken. After carving she would put that chicken ‘frame’ in a stock pot with giblets, water, whatever vegetables and herbs she had on hand and make a broth. Broth has many healing properties and is great for the belly. Broth can be sipped like a tea or used in soups and other recipes. One chicken frame can make about 16-18 cups of rich brown broth. Click to see how to make homemade broth.
I think I have covered just about everything! I hope those of you that weren’t sure you could roast a chicken have gained some confidence and those of you that are already sold on roasted chickens learned something too! Now on to the recipes. Here are my favorites.
Roasted Chicken Recipes
Tender, juicy chicken roasted in a pan with a lid surrounded by carrots, rose potatoes, celery and shallots. Seasoned with Herbs de Provence and glazed with an orange apricot sauce!
A glazed sweet and spicy roasted chicken atop butternut squash, shallots, brussels sprouts and potatoes.
This a favorite shared from one of my favorite restaurants, The Communal!
This is a family favorite, I usually make two at once cooking them in a turkey roasting pan.
This chicken is browned on the cooktop and then roasted in a cast iron skillet. Served with honey ginger carrots and caramelized pears it has a bit of a fancy flair!
MAY I PLEASE ASK A LITTLE FAVOR?
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