I've been meaning to post a few recipes, so here's my first one. We were vegetarians for years so I am re-discovering how to cook with meat and being much pickier than I used to be. Also I have a little more time after work on some days so I can take a while if results warrant it.
Roasted chicken is hardly unique but this recipe combines the features that I currently like best. I prefer minimal handling and cutting (so I avoid the flattened chicken that I used to make) and I like the skin to be crisp but not burnt, hence the use of a vertical roaster to raise the chicken and expose most of the skin and also a high temperature but not too high. Also I don't like to fuss so I keep the temperature the same throughout the process. Perhaps I should add that we prefer chicken to be completely done, not a bit rare in spots. Also I want to avoid non-stick pans and implements. But I still want it all to be easy to clean.
I use the NorPro Stainless Steel Roaster which has a small pan at the bottom to catch most if not all of the juices. This is a cheap device I bought at Amazon. I place the device inside a shallow stainless steel baking pan. These are both very easy to clean and has the benefit of capturing the juices well. I use a stainless steel baster to remove the juices from the little pan at the end of cooking. They can be used as the base of a sauce for this or future dinners. I have two roasters and can easily fit two chickens in my oven at once, but usually I cook one at a time.
This recipe is basically a variant of one I found on the Splendid Table website, with quite a few adjustments to meet my evolving specs. I'm sorry for all the steps, I'm just trying to be fairly complete. It's very easy. Also note, I think you could use any non-vertical roasting rack and get fairly similar results - the point is to raise the bird up off it's juices. I like the vertical roaster because it collects the juices nicely and seems to cook a bit quicker and produces maximal crispy skin.
Vertical Roasted Chicken
- Garlic cloves, onion slices, lemon/orange/fruit slices and/or fresh herbs (completely optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper or hot sauce (also optional but I think you really need salt - I use Diamond brand kosher salt)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or other delicious fat (I like to use duck fat when I have it, or bacon fat)
- 3-5 pound chicken (a humanely raised chicken please!)
- Remove the oven's middle rack(s). Put the bottom rack at the lowest level so there is room for the upright chicken and vertical rack.
- Preheat to 400 (if you have a convection oven use 400, otherwise try 425 or 450).
- Clean, rinse and dry the chicken, removing innards and extra fat as needed. I like to freeze these for future use. I separate out the livers and add to a jar of chicken livers that I am saving until I get enough to male something special. It is almost impossible to find organic chicken livers locally.
- Bend the wings to tuck the wing tips under the wings, forming a triangle with the wings.
- Rub the oil or fat all over the chicken and then sprinkle or rub with salt and optional pepper or hot sauce.
- (OPTIONAL) You can push thin lemon slices and/or chopped herbs under the skin in strategic places but I usually skip this step.
- Set the Vertical Roaster in a shallow baking pan. Push the chicken down onto the wire tower so the top of the vertical roaster comes up to or through the neck cavity. Rest the bird's legs on the raised edge at the bottom of the vertical roaster to avoid having them soak in the juices. You can add a few tablespoons of liquid to the little pan at the bottom of the roaster. I used to do this but once I forgot and it was fine and did not smoke too much.
- (OPTIONAL) Push herbs or other flavoring into the cavity along with the ribs of the vertical roaster. This will only have a minor affect on the final product but it is a nice touch and enhances the juices.
- Place the baking pan with the chicken on it's roaster into the preheated oven on the center of the bottom rack. Remember that you have to remove the other racks, preferably before they get hot.Bake/roast at 400 degrees, using the convection setting for approximately 10 minutes per pound plus 20 minutes if the chicken is cold from the refrigerator (or plus 10 minutes if the chicken has been out for a half hour - not necessarily recommended practice from a food safety point of view).
- When the allotted time is up (or maybe 10 minutes in advance) check to see if it is done. Either use an instant read thermometer or prick the leg at the thigh joint to see if the juices run clear, or just use your judgment based on how it feels and moves when you touch it.
- When done, remove it from the oven and turn off the oven.
- Let bird rest 10 minutes at room temperature, still on the rack, then serve. You can simply leave it on the roaster and cut away the legs, thighs and wings and then (optionally) the wish bone. Be careful when you cut the skin at first, especially at the thigh, because hot juices may rapidly flow out. Then cut away the breast meat or slice it off. Don't forget to use or save the delicious juices, possibly removing them from the brimming pan with a baster. Save the bones and scraps for soup - I collect them in my freezer until I'm ready to make broth.
- If some guests don't eat chicken skin, you might want to remove it before serving, and share it amongst those who appreciate it. You can even crisp it under the broiler if needed.
- Timing notes - Not counting the ten minute rest at the end, a 4 pound chicken takes about an hour (4 times 10 plus 20 minutes) and a five pound chicken takes about an hour and ten minutes. So it's not super fast, but worth the wait. And once it's in the oven you don't have any fussing over it until the end.