How to roast chicken; perfectly, every timeApril 29, 2016
Something about the sight a whole chicken needing to be cooked can be enough send waves of panic through your body. With a few tips, our recipe developers can show you how to roast chicken and get a perfect result every time. Deep breaths, let’s do this!
Steph, our recipe developer and specialist in all things Family Box, lends her expertise…
First of all, always start with the chicken at room temperature! This is true for all meat, but especially for something as large as a whole chicken. If the centre is frozen, you’ll never achieve an even cook – the breast and legs will dry out before the middle of the chicken is anywhere near done.
Next up is aromats (the kitchen abbreviation for aromatics). Adding as many of these as you can to the chicken while it cooks is the key to getting a beautiful flavour. Load up as much as you can into the cavity of the chicken – half a lemon, a whole bulb of garlic, sprigs of rosemary or sage – the more the merrier! Seasoning all the skin with salt and pepper will encourage it to crisp up beautifully as you roast, as will adding aromats or butter under the skin of the chicken. To add things under the breast skin, gently push your fingers between the meat and skin, starting at the cavity. The two will gently separate and you can cram in as much flavour as you like to season the meat.
Putting plenty of flavourful root veggies and alliums (garlic, onion, leek, etc.) into the pan is a great idea for a rich, tasty gravy. Placing small chunks along the bottom of the pan and the chicken on top also allows heat to circulate more evenly during roasting.
A roast chicken needs about 30 minutes cooking time per 500g of meat. So, a 1.5kg chicken will an hour and a half. Always preheat your oven; we like around 180°C in a conventional oven. Cook the chicken for half of it’s required time uncovered, then place foil over for the rest of the cooking time. This will allow the skin to crisp up, but also retain moisture and allow the chicken to roast evenly internally as well.
To check the progress of the chicken, insert a knife or metal skewer into the thickest part of the breast and the side of the leg. The chicken is ready when the juices run clear (and don’t worry about pink bits of meat around bony parts of the meat – this is perfectly normal!)
When the chicken is finished cooking, allow it to sit, covered, for 20 minutes to retain moisture on the meat. You can even turn it over at this stage to allow a more moist chicken breast, and then turn right side up to carve.
Carving really isn’t as hard as it seems, and you can definitely make it easier for yourself! Start by feeling the breastbone down the centre of the chicken. When you’ve found this, cut down each side of the bone to separate the two breast pieces, you can then slice this easily (plus, everyone will get a moist part close to the bone, and some crispy skin).
Maryland (the leg and thigh) pieces and wings should be easily separated with a knife, and then divided up. Don’t forget to turn the bird over to get the underside and ‘oysters’ of the meat (the darker meat pieces that sit on either side of the backbone) – these are famously the most tender and moist pieces of the chicken – just ask the French.
As for gravy – we’ll leave that up to your secret family recipe. Just remember – the more meat juices, roasting veggies, and ‘brown bits’ from the roasting tray you can use – the better. If you’re not a big gravy guy, you can also place a hunk of sourdough underneath the chicken. Everyone can have a slice of the bread when serving – it will be full of amazing flavour and delicious burnt bits.