There is an ease and elegance to a well-roasted chicken. Place the roasted bird on a platter with salad greens or roasted vegetables. Few people can pass up the flavorful bird. Whether you are a novice or a roasting champion, let’s look at the steps to a perfect roast chicken that is succulent and flavorsome. There is no consensus on the best way to prep a chicken for roasting; it’s all a matter of opinon. I like to experiment with different versions for new flavors.
Roasting Versus Baking
If like me, you grew up with your mother’s oven-roasted chicken surrounded by root vegetables, we’ll start there. Roasting requires a higher temperature (400°F and above) to create a browned, flavorful “crust” on the outside of the food being cooked, while baking occurs at lower oven temperatures (up to 375°F). Roasting is typically done in an open, uncovered pan, while items that are baked may be covered. Many of us may think of the rotisserie chicken you can buy at the supermarket when we hear roasted chicken. It does indeed have that marvelous crunchy skin. Using a rotisserie is another way to make roast chicken.
Most recipes for roast chicken start with an oven temperature of about 425°F. Basic instructions: Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. A common approach is salt and pepper on the inside of the chicken. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter or olive oil and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Always baste half way through cooking time to add flavor and keep the breasts from drying out.
Experiment with seasoning
Now the herbs and spices added may vary. You can stuff the cavity with fresh celery and carrots like my mother or be adventurous with your herbs. Stuff the cavity with peeled garlic cloves, a halved lemon and herbs (like thyme, sage and rosemary). Other herbs will help to bring out extra flavors – this include paprika, oregano, parsley, rosemary, cumin, tarragon or even garam masala. Rub the citrus juice, spices and herbs on the outside of the bird. You can invent your own favorite mixture.
Food & Wine has a fabulous article 11 Ways to Flavor Roast Chicken. So many exotic flavors! Check it out.
Add a marinade
Feel free to also try various sauces and marinades from garlic to orange. Reading about the overnight marinade of rosemary citrus at Christina’s Cucina caught my interest. I’m a huge citrus fan and I love rosemary. I use fresh rosemary from my little bush by the front door. If you want to get beneath the skin, you could even try using a marinade injector to get deeper into the meat. Doesn’t it looks fabulous? Change ingredients and you have a different chicken for dinner.
Photo Christina’s Cucina
Try spatchcocking the chicken
When cooking a full chicken, it can sometimes be tricky to get the breast meat and thigh meat to cook evenly. A solution could be to try this spatchcock chicken recipe at The Mediterranean Dish. You remove the backbone and butterfly the meat. This allows the heat to more easily penetrate the meat in the center of the bird. Spatchcocking can also be an effective way to cook a full chicken when grilling.
Photo The Mediterranean Dish
Use a thermometer
There are many ways of testing whether a chicken is cooked or not. The most trusted way of telling is to use a meat thermometer. Insert this into the center of the meat – the temperature should ideally read 155 degrees fahrenheit to 160 degrees fahrenheit when done.
Leave the chicken to rest
This is a vital step that many people leave out. Once the chicken is cooked, it should ideally be covered in tin foil and left to rest for ten to fifteen minutes. During this period, the bird will continue to cook and the juices will seal into the meat. This will help to add that succulent mouthwatering texture. So, do yourself a favor and increase the flavor by letting your chicken sit for several minutes before carving.
Photo Chef Savy: Whole Roasted Mexican Chicken
I hope you find these tips helpful and inspiring. Let’s go roast a chicken!
This is a collaborative post but all opinions are my own.
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