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How to Roast Chicken


Perfectly roast chicken is a one of a kind dish; it has the power to both comfort and impress, and it is a recipe that can be used on so many different occasions. It is always a popular food with the crowd, and can be saved if it is not all finished in one go.

More How-To’s

If you don’t want to roast a whole chicken, there are tips on separating the chicken in our Step by Step articles.

Although the cooking time for a roasted chicken is longer than normal, the preparation time itself is very short.

In addition to this, leftover roasted chicken can be used in a wide variety of chicken recipes; chicken enchiladas, soup, salad, pastas and sandwiches all make use of tasty roasted chicken meat.

Skin is In
Many people proclaim that the skin of a crispy roasted chicken is the best bit of the bird, due to its crispy, flavorful nature. However, those who are health conscious often remove it; this is due to the fact that the skin contains the most fat content. Whatever you prefer, always leave the skin on when roasting; it is essential to keep the meat moist.

Divine Brine
A very good tip to getting flavorful, appetizing roast chicken is to brine in; soak it in salt water. This is always done with Kosher chicken, and it is the reason that they often taste better in comparison to the average roast chicken. To brine your chicken, follow these steps:

  • Dissolve ½ cup of kosher salt (or ¼ cup of normal table salt) in two quarts of water. Put the chicken into the mixture so it is fully covered, and immediately store it in the fridge.
  • The chicken should remain soaked for a minimum of 1 hour, but only to a maximum of 5 or 6 hours.
  • After the desired brining time, rinse the chicken with cold water and pat dry. If you are a lover of extra-crispy skin, you have the option of putting the chicken in the fridge and air-dry; this can be done anywhere from 1 hour to overnight.

Whether or not you choose to brine your chicken, you must rinse it and pat it dry; this is essential to removing any dangerous bacteria and unwanted residue. Also, many forget to pat it dry; this must be done so that when roasted, the skin turns brown.

Dress It Up
Some people prefer the simple taste of a roast chicken garnished only with salt, pepper and butter. However, some prefer to add on to these essentials for a more extravagant palette of flavors. Chopped herbs can be put under the chicken’s wings, or garlic and onion mixed with sprigs can be stuffed into the main cavity. Wedges of fruit, such as lemon or orange, can be used to infuse the meat with extra zest.

Rub It Down
A “dry rub” is a great way to give your chicken meat extra flavor; using dried and ground spices, rub under the chicken’s skin and inside the main cavity. For those who will remove the skin before eating, this will ensure that they still get as much adequate flavor.
There are many different flavors you can achieve:

  • For a Southwestern flavor, rub the chicken with chilie, cumin and sage.
  • For a more Indian essence, use a combination of equal portions of coriander and cumin, adding in a dash of turmeric, cardamom and garam masala.
  • For a Thai-inspired tang, a paste made of ginger, lemongrass, chillies, cilantro and lime juice will achieve that Oriental feel.

A Bird You Can Truss
Some people choose, for convenience reasons, to tie the chicken’s legs to the body; this is known as “trussing”.  If you have stuffed your chicken, then this will be helpful to hold it all in.

  • Cut a segment of 3-foot heatproof butcher’s twine.
  • Put the chicken on a clean surface, breast-up.
  • Loop the middle of the string under the chicken’s tail, using both hands to hold each end.
  • Make sure that the ends of the legs get caught in the string, then cross it over the chicken’s breast in an “X” shape.
  • Bring the string under and around the wings, bringing it back around to the front. Making sure that the wings are tucked in, tie a tight knot to ensure all your work does not come loose.

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Last Modified: 11/28/11.