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Chef Pete

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Home Roasted Chickens, Best Practices for Best Outcomes

March 7, 2017
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Of all my favorite winter comfort foods I can honestly say that my favorite is a simply roasted chicken.

I say “simple,” but even simple has a “catch”. For example, it’s a simple decision to decide between going left or right. On the surface, it seems like a 50/50 proposition, but in reality, each choice has its own outcome.

Thankfully, roasting a chicken is neither rocket science or life changing but deciding how to roast your chicken will affect its outcome.

Now I know better than to think that most people would be willing to take a lot of extra time and go through a lot of extra trouble to prepare a roasted chicken 10% better.

But, if I told you that it only took a few moments to make a roasted chicken 25% better, well?…maybe you’ll give it a try.

Here’s how.

First, remember Thanksgiving? Well a lot of things that apply to roasting a turkey also apply to chickens, they’re just smaller.

Pick a chick.

Any chicken you purchase to roast can be made better with some simple changes in your roasting method so don’t feel you have to spend huge extra bucks to get big results. Having said that, if you like the free-range, pampered “spa” chickens they make excellent meals too.

Here are the only things you’ll have do differently than you may be doing now.

  1. Decide in the morning your having a roasted chicken for dinner tonight.
  2. Make a simple brine and dunk your chicken in it while you’re at work or doing whatever else you may do during the day.
  3. Have a roasting pan with a rack that holds the chicken off the bottom of the pan (a “V” shaped rack is best).
  4. Have an Insta-read thermometer handy.
  5. Begin roasting at 400 F.
  6. Turn the chicken upside down while it’s resting after it comes out of the oven.

First, the brine….

Combine the following in a bowl large enough for your chicken, which you’ll place breast side down and this liquid once its mixed, cover with plastic wrap, place in the fridge and go about your business till dinner.

2 Quarts           Warm Water
½ cup               Kosher Salt
¼ cup               Light Brown Sugar
3 TBSP             Molasses (Optional)
1 TBSP             Whole Black Peppercorns, Crushed
2 tsp                  Granulated Garlic
½ tsp                 Dry Thyme

  1. To roast your chicken, pre-heat your oven to 400 F.
  2. Remove your chicken from the brine (you can discard your brine, its done its thing). Rinse the bird in cold water and pat dry.
  3. Rub your chicken in 2 TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  4. Spray the roasting pan rack with some non-stick vegetable spray and place your chicken on the rack, breast side up.
  5. Season the top of the chicken lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. If you’re feeling all “gourmet-like, you can sprinkle some minced fresh garlic or some fresh herbs if you like but they’ll only be flavoring the skin (if you enjoy that sort of thing).
  6. Pop the chicken into the oven and roast at 400 F for 30 minutes then turn the oven temperature down to 350 F.
  7. Depending on the weight of your chicken, the roasting time will take anywhere from 45 minutes (a small 2 pounder), to as much as 1 hour and 30 minutes for a beastly 6 pounder! Safe to say, depending on what you’ve bought (the weight will likely be marked somewhere on your package) you should begin checking the temperature of your chicken about ¾ of the way through its estimated roasting time. The best place to probe is the pocket between the breast and the thigh as long as the point of the probe is not resting up against a bone (which will give you a false, higher temperature reading).
  8. When the temperature reads 160 F remove the chicken from the oven and turn upside down to rest for 15 minutes. This resting time will allow the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat and make for a MUCH juicer chicken.

You notice I never mentioned basting?

In truth, basting has always been more about crisping the skin than moistening the meat. Brining will do that part. And as far as crisping the skin? Well, a chicken’s skin is much thinner than a turkey’s is so a light rub of olive oil and initial roasting at 400 F will take care of that. Your chicken is going to be in your oven maybe an hour give or take 20 minutes so basting just really isn’t that necessary (or practical).

But, if you just like the idea of basting, or if you’re dying to use that basting bulb you got for the holidays no one will stop you.

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