A good roast chicken is always satisfying. But a great roast chicken is out of this world. To take your chicken to the next level, you’ve got to make sure you’re avoiding the most common mistakes. From seasoning it right to nailing the cooking temperature, here’s how to get the most bang for your buck. Err, bird.
Thyme-and-Garlic-Roast Chicken. Photo: Ture Lillegraven
1. Don’t Settle for Conventional
Bargain birds from the supermarket may be cost-effective, but they’re seriously lacking in flavor. “Whenever possible, buy the best quality chicken you can find,” says Dawn Perry, Bon Appétit digital food editor. The difference between a pasture-raised bird and a feedlot chicken is huge. As Perry says, the better-quality bird actually tastes like, well, chicken.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Season Aggressively
Not only does a nice coating of salt make chicken taste good, it helps render the skin a crackling golden-brown (more on crispy skin in rule no. 4). Season the entire chicken well with salt and pepper. Don’t forget the back of the bird, underneath the wings, between the thighs, and even inside the cavity. Other additions, like ground spices and finely chopped herbs, are at your discretion, but there’s something to be said for a simple salt-and-pepper bird. “I don’t always want the song and dance,” explains Perry. Bonus points for stuffing the chicken with aromatic ingredients, like chopped citrus, full sprigs of herbs, smashed garlic, and onion. As the bird cooks, the “stuffing” will infuse it with flavor from the inside-out.
3. Never Roast a Cold (or Soggy) Chicken
Before you put the chicken in the oven, give it time to come to room temperature. 30 to 45 minutes will do the trick. Taking the bird directly from the fridge to the fire will increase its roasting time and cook it unevenly. Another common mistake many home cooks make is not properly drying the chicken before roasting it. A damp bird makes for limp, soggy skin. There’s no need to rinse the chicken, says Perry. If your bird has been packed in plastic, simply remove it and place it on a paper towel-lined sheet tray. Thoroughly pat it dry, then proceed as normal. Many butcher shops keep their chickens unwrapped in temperature-controlled cases, so those are nicely dry by the time you cook it.
4. Choose Your Cooking Method
You have two options for roasting your chicken: low and slow or hot and fast. To make the right decision, you first have to decide what type of chicken you’re craving. For sticky, rotisserie-style skin with fall-apart meat, cook it at a low temperature for hours. This recipe for Faux-tisserie Chicken calls for three hours at 300˚—once you taste it, says Perry, you’ll agree that it’s time well-spent. If it’s burnished, crackling skin you’re after, cook the bird quickly at a high temperature. Our Skillet Roast Chicken jump-starts the process by getting a handsome sear on the stovetop in a pan (preferably cast-iron). Once the skin is golden, transfer the skillet to an …read more
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