Instructables

Quick Roast Chicken

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Picture of Quick Roast Chicken
Roasting is a simple, classic way to cook a chicken, and the resulting birds are delicious every time.

This recipe is as basic as it gets - with just 5 minutes of prep time, you can pull the finished roast chicken out of the oven in roughly 45 minutes. Give it a try! This recipe is based on the simple roast chicken from Bouchon by Thomas Keller.

Cross-reference: How to Truss a Chicken.
 
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Step 1: Gather tools and ingredients

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You'll need:

- one chicken
- a paper towel
- large-grain salt (kosher or large-flake sea salt are fine)
- pepper
- a clean (and cleanable) surface to work on (I use the interior of the butcher paper the chicken came in)
- a piece of clean natural kitchen twine long enough to truss the chicken, at least 30 inches. Use cotton, hemp, etc - nothing that will melt, discolor, or otherwise isn't fit for contact with food and/or heat.
- an oven-proof pot
- an oven
- meat thermometer, preferably instant-read
- soap and water to clean yourself up
- bleach to clean any bits of counter contaminated with raw chicken
- a sharp knife or kitchen shears
- a spoon

Step 2: Preheat oven and pan

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Turn your oven to 450F, and set the rack to the middle or low position. Put your pan in the oven to heat as well.

Step 3: Dry chicken

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This step is easy to forget, but key to success. Simply dry the chicken thoroughly, inside and out. Pay special attention to the body cavity, as the uneven surfaces let moisture hide.

We're aiming for crispy skin, and any remaining water will turn into steam. Rather counterproductive, so do a good job toweling off.

Step 4: Salt body cavity

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Pour about a teaspoon of salt into the body cavity, and rub against the insides. Dump out any extra salt.

Step 5: Truss chicken

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If you've never trussed a chicken before, try it - it's easy, and only takes a minute. I posted a separate trussing Instructable here. If you already know how, grab your twine and truss away.

This step helps create one large thermal mass so the chicken cooks evenly.

Step 6: Salt and pepper chicken

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Grind fresh pepper over the surface of the chicken, and cover it in a light rain of salt. (More like hail, I suppose.)

If you want to add other dried herbs and spices, now's a great time. I've had great results with Ethiopian berebere. (if you've got fresh herbs, save them for later.)

Step 7: Drop into hot pan

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Open the oven, pick up the trussed, seasoned bird by the ankles, and place it breast-side up in the hot pan. It will sizzle a bit, but if you've dried the chicken it shouldn't spit.

Step 8: Cook

Cook the chicken at 450F for around 45 minutes, depending on the size of the bird. You'll be able to tell when it's near-done - the bird will be golden-brown and smell awesome.

To test, put your instant-read thermometer in the fleshy bit between thigh and body, and pull the bird out when you get a reading of 155F. (The temperature will rise to about 165F as the bird rests.)

Notes:
1) Keep your thermometer away from the bones, as they will hold more heat and throw off your readings. Test multiple spots if you're not sure.
2) If the top seems to be drying out, or if you've added extra spices that look to be getting too toasty, it's fine to baste the bird with a spoonful of chicken fat from the pan as necessary, but you probably won't need it.

Step 9: Finish and serve

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Immediately after removing the chicken, baste the top with pan drippings. If you have fresh herbs to add (thyme, oregano, etc) add them to the pan drippings and let them steep for a moment before basting. Snip the twine around the chicken legs, and gently unwrap from the rest of the body. (it will come off easily.)

I generally start eating bits (wings, tail) now, but if you want to be formal:
Baste again, let the bird rest about 10 minutes, then baste once more before serving. It looks gorgeous, so make a big production of carving it at the table!
Fantastic method which works beautifully. My 4lb chicken was moist and tender and I had enough juice in the pan to make a nice sauce by sloshing in some sherry and lemon juice. perfect for mid week dinner with rice or couscous and a salad. Will definitely do this again and again and again. Thank you
canida (author)  Cow biscuits23 days ago

Excellent, glad to hear it worked out!

I'm making it for dinner tonight myself, and zipped by to double-check times/temps. Soooo easy, not sure why I got out of the habit.

Just wanted you to know I tried your way tonight and loved it! This is definitely the weeknight winner. It was nice to have dinner on the table under an hour instead of almost two with my way of doing it. :D

Plus, I have to say I loved doing it in the pan... it's so much easier to do a nice sauce that way!

canida (author)  jessyratfink4 years ago
Awesome!
I'm always happy when lazy cooking and delicious cooking coincide. ;)

What did you do for a sauce?
Fresh lemon juice and a little butter and some reduction. Twas delicious. :)
Peale5 years ago
Thanks for the comments back, Canida, and for the patch. 

Another way of preparing a whole chicken is the butterfly method.  Pretty much you remove the spine by cutting it out with poultry scissors, then remove the keelbone.  It will lay very flat after that.  Then you can broil it and it'll cook very quickly and evenly. I like to start inside-side on top first, then flip it over to finish cooking and brown the meat.
AZ Girl Peale5 years ago

Sounds like a great cooking method?
What is the keelbone? 
What temp do you use for brioling? 
How close do you place the chicken to the broiler element? 
How long do you cook on inside and outside? 
This method soulnds great but need more instructions.
AZ Girl,
The keelbone is the equivalent of the ziphoid process on your own body.

To all,
Remember that if you debone the chicken before you actually serve it, throw the bones into a covered pot of hot water on low, by the next morning you will have some tremendous chicken stock.

0311 mdeblasi14 years ago
I thought that only ships & sailboats had keelbones!
Peale 03114 years ago
You're thinking of the keel. :)
Peale AZ Girl5 years ago
After you unfold the chicken it's the bone right in the middle that separates the breasts.  There's a good chunk of cartilage attached to this bone as well that can come out if you desire.

I can't say anything about other stoves, but mine has a "broil" setting on the temperature dial, it's above the 500 degree mark.  I like to keep the chicken pretty far away, at least 9-10 inches.  

I cook until it looks done, then flip it and do the same for the other.  Then I check the internal temperature with a digital probe thermometer.

canida (author)  Peale5 years ago
This sounds like it calls for an Instructable as well! 
The technical term for butterflying and flattening a chicken is spatchcocking, by the way.  Great for the grill.
Kaiven5 years ago
Aw man... That looks tasty! I wish I could buy a chicken... To bad I can't walk to the store x_x
canida (author)  Kaiven5 years ago
Grab a fork or some chopsticks, lean out the nearest window, and nab a passing pigeon!  A bit small, though.  You may need two.
Kaiven canida5 years ago
Brilliant! Pigeons always hang out beside my pool!
Yabloko19435 years ago
Many years ago, a friend of mine had baked a chicken and had stuffed carrots and I think, potatoes in the chicken. All I remember was that it sure tasted great. Regarding the salting of chicken have you folks thought of using celery in place of salt? Of course, using herbs in chicken is great; it is the herbs that distinguish one chicken dish from another.
Anyone for chicken mole'?
canida (author)  Yabloko19435 years ago
Mmmm, chicken mole!  I love it, but don't have a good recipe.
If you do, please post an Instructable!
Hi!
My mother used to make chicken mole for us once in a while and this was her basic recipe. First, Mom usually used chicken breasts; but you could use chicken wings too. Place  the chicken in a pot of cold water, and put enough water to cover the chicken.  Boil the chicken and save the stock.  Add a can of dry Mole powder (It  seems I can't  find it in powder form anymore, so just use the mole from the jar or from the can) Rosarita or Old Pueblo will do. Mix the stock with the Mole sauce together  along with the chicken.  Mother used to say, "Never place a cover or even a cloth over the pot once you have the chicken and mole sauce together; otherwise, the chicken will be too watery." She always added a tablespoon of peanut butter to add richness to the mixture. 
Now for the side dish, fry rice 1/2 cup in a  pan using olive oil. When rice is brown, add 6 oz can of  tomato sauce add a little bit of water so that rice will absorb the tomato sauce. Garnish with cilantro (coriander)
. Got flour, or corn tortillas?
Please don't forget your re-fried (pink) beans.  Get pink beans, boil for about 2 hours, add salt to taste.
Next day, portion off some of the beans and fry them. 3rd day, fry fried beans add cheese (Jack is good). Add from beans from the first pot. Add more cheese. Mix well.
4thday: re-fry beans again add more cheese. Now you are cooking! The refried beans are good for breakfast, with eggs! Re-fried beans are great in burritos anytime!
That is enough for a simple but great Mexican meals!  Enjoy!
I suggest a carving instructable! I am kind of dumb when it cames to carving despite making roast chicken for years and just use kitchen shears.
I posted this on my blog a few years back. I went back to dig it up. Incredibly informative. And of course you can apply this to chicken as well as turkey. <br /><br /><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/dining/21carv.html?_r=1&em&ex=1195794000&en=70aa1e3aa59cbcae&ei=5087">www.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/dining/21carv.html</a><br />
canida (author)  Peale5 years ago
Great article!  I do it mostly like that - will post an Instructable on it one of these days.
GitarGr85 years ago
I will also season underneath the skin of the bird, with garlilc, rosemary, and other spices I have on hand, as well as stuff the cavity with lemon, parsely or cilantro, rosemary and garlic. These both seem to impart a lot of flavor to the meat.

Something else I'll do is use a bit bigger of a cooking dish, and after about 20 mins of cooking, I'll add some chopped vegetables, like potatoes, and carrots, and pour in a liquid. Water will work, but I've found that a bottle of Newcastle makes for the best flavor. This way you have a complete meal all cooking at the same time.

Maybe I should just make an 'ible, huh? Haha
canida (author)  GitarGr85 years ago
Maybe I should just make an 'ible, huh?

Yes please!

Peale5 years ago
One trick you may wish to try is putting flavourful goodness /UNDER/ the skin.  Skin is designed to keep stuff out of the body, and that doesn't change after the bird is dispatched. 

If you gently lift the skin in strategic spots, you can add marinades underneath to add depths of flavor.  I prefer simple ones from kosher salt, pepper, olive oil, maybe a bit of balsamic vinegar.
canida (author)  Peale5 years ago
Agreed! I'm a fan of under-skin <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Orange-Ginger-Miso-Turkey-with-Roasted-Vegetables/">citrus slices, and/or miso rubs</a>.<br />
ardrhi5 years ago
Unless your kidneys are *severely* challenged, the little bit of salt in this recipe should not be a problem. Resist the temptation to replace it with Mrs. Dash or some kind of "lite salt", because contrary to popular opinion, though they may taste similar on the tongue, they do NOT serve the same purpose during cooking! By all means, if you feel you need to add a bit of flavor with it AT THE TABLE, use Mrs. Dash as much as you like, but salt serves a chemical purpose during cooking that substitutes do not fill. It aids in browning, pulls moisture out of the food, and balances the hydroscopic nature of sugars. And a teaspoon of salt on and around a roasting bird is NOT THAT MUCH, especially when you consider that a lot of it will drip off into the pan.<br /><br />If you have health concerns about sodium, you probably get more sodium from a single prepared food item than you will from a serving of this chicken, prepared with real salt. Instead of worrying about using lite salt or Mrs. Dash on the chicken, read labels on your packaged goods and pare it down there. For example -- A fairly typical "Lean Cuisine" chicken meal has between 600-850 mg of sodium. And they probably already use "lite" salt, because their potassium level is about as high.<br />
AZ Girl5 years ago
I do not have an oven safe pan. Can I use Corning Ware?
Phoghat AZ Girl5 years ago
Absolutely. Corning ware is the Swiss Army Knife of the kitchen. Also I keep a couple of compound butters in the freezer, depending on what I'm cooking.
EG Take some fresh herbs (for chicken I like garlic and thyme) and mince very fine (or crush) . Mix with softened unsweetened butter  and roll into a cylinder using plastic wrap, twist ends and freeze. To use thaw, allow to soften, and spread under skin using fingers starting at the butt end. I find herbed skin nice but it doesn't get to the meat.
SeaLion5 years ago
I want to try!...but I lack a pan that can go into the oven...
Look for a cast iron pan.  A brand called Lodge is very common in the US, but I'm sure there are others elsewhere.  It shouldn't run you more than $10-20 for a good size pan that can go in and out of the oven and be used on the stovetop.  I use my cast iron pan to cook chicken pretty much like this recipe.  
Cast iron is incredibly versatile.  And it's cookware that will last you for life (and probably your heirs lives) if you treat it correctly.  Definitely a worthwhile investment.
jcard215 years ago
I read your Truss article first, then this Roast article. Both articles AND photos are very good! My only differences (NOT criticisms!): I roast my chickens (4.5 lbs each, 2 at a time) at 350°F for about 2:15 hrs:min. Judging just by your photos, my chickens' skins get very dark/crunchy (which I prefer); yours are just golden (you probably prefer!). Also, I found cooking at a lower temp (350°F) produces juicier white meat. PS: I also use a PYREX digital temp-probe/alarm ($20) full-time in the chicken thigh; an alarm goes off when it reaches my chosen internal temperature. *** Obviously, I enjoyed both your articles!!! I'm definitely going to check out your other articles.
canida (author)  jcard215 years ago
Sounds great! You should put up an Instructable for your method, since it clearly optimizes for different features. The skin on these birds turns out quite crunchy, especially if you don't do the post-oven basting, and the trussing/salting keeps the breast pretty juicy. When yours is up we'll run a comparison!
Goodhart5 years ago
So WONDERFULLY complimentary the Truss A Chicken -ible, too

canida (author)  Goodhart5 years ago
Minus the salt, this one would be pretty good for you to try out. ;)
Goodhart canida5 years ago
Yes, I was thinking that myself......time to buy some paper for my printer and print these two -ibles off :-) I could use a little lite-salt ®
You're right, this is a lot simpler! I think I'll be trying this sometime this week. I always feel as though I need to roast a ton of vegetables with the chicken, but this might be the recipe that convinces me otherwise. :)
canida (author)  jessyratfink5 years ago
Cool, let me know how it goes!