Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to make a Perfect Every Time Roast Chicken

A two-step process starting the bird out breast side down and then turning it once during roasting ensures that the skin gets crispy, the bird browns evenly, and the more delicate white meat is fully basted before it meets the heat on its own. Makes 4 to 6 servings

What you'll need:

  • One 4- to 5-pound chicken, giblets and neck removed
  • 6 tarragon sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Butcher’s twine

Here's how:

  1. Position the rack in the middle of the oven (or so that there’s at least 2 inches between the top of the bird and the top of the oven); preheat the oven to 400°F .
  2. Slip one finger between the skin and the meat on one side of the breast just above the large cavity opening. Gently work your fi  ngers into the growing pocket between the skin and meat. Take care not to stretch the skin to a dowager’s elasticity. Once you have a pocket, do the same on the other side of the breast.
  3. Slip 3 tarragon spears under the skin on each side of the breast, smoothing them evenly over the meat. Pat the skin on both sides back into place.
  4. Rub all the outer skin of the bird with the olive oil or softened butter, then gently massage the salt into the skin. Truss the bird with butcher’s twine.
  5. Place a rack in a large roasting pan, then place the bird on the rack breast side down. Roast for 20 minutes.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Turn the bird breast side up, taking care not to let any of the hot grease inside the body scald you. Baste the bird with any pan drippings, then continue roasting until very brown, basting every 20 minutes or so with pan drippings, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F or 180°F, about 50 to 70 more minutes. The juices from the thigh, when pierced, should run clear. If the skin starts to brown too deeply, lightly tent the bird with aluminum foil to prevent scorching. Transfer to a cutting or carving board; let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature before carving.

Variations: Insert different herbs under the skin. Try 10 thyme sprigs (5 on each side of the breast), 8 oregano sprigs (4 on each side), 2 tablespoons rosemary leaves (1 tablespoon on each side), or a combination of oregano and rosemary. For a milder, grassier taste, add a couple of sprigs of parsley to any herb you choose.

For a more aromatic bird, place 1 small onion, quartered; 2 celery ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces; and 2 bay leaves inside the large body cavity before you truss the legs. Discard these aromatics before serving.

For a more velvety taste, double the amount of oil or butter; put half directly on the meat under the skin of both breast halves before you slip in the herbs, then put the rest of the fat over the skin as directed.

For crisper skin, unwrap the chicken from its store packaging, remove the giblets and neck, and set the chicken on a large plate, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

For a 3 to 4 pound broiler or fryer chicken, cook it breast side down for 15 minutes, then roast it breast side up at 350°F for about 45 minutes, to the desired internal temperature.

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