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High-heat roast chicken

March 29th, 2011 at 13:08

I recently got a few whole chickens at a good price from Whole Foods. Whole roasted chicken is a food I have a love-hate relationship with. It takes forever, and it’s a pain to carve, but you can do so much with them–eat the meat plain or use it in things, and then you can use the carcass for stock later. But the one thing that’s just pure love about a roasted chicken is the skin. Crispy, melt-in-your-mouth fatty deliciousness. There’s nothing worse than a roasted chicken with flabby, rubbery skin. I tried making chicken in the pressure cooker once–never again. Ditto with the crock pot. Yeah, the meat might be moist and juicy, but that’s only half of the equation.

I have a standard recipe I like to use with chicken. It’s an old Weight Watchers recipe that I modify a bit (the recipe tells you to REMOVE the skin. Sacrilege!) in order to better fit a Primal diet, but I’m always looking for a better way to do it, especially since the skin doesn’t come out as crispy in that recipe as I’d like. I went to my friend Google to see if there was a better way to crisp up a roasted chicken. Cook’s Illustrated has an interesting technique that I’d like to try someday, but it would take an extra day of prep that I didn’t have. Instead, I decided to try high-heat roasting.

The only real requirement for this chicken is some salt, pepper, and melted butter, coconut oil, or bacon grease. Other than that, you’re free to season it as you wish. To season your chicken, take your desired herbs and spices, loosen the skin on top of the breast, and rub them into the meat, underneath the skin. Baste the bird, top and bottom, with your melted fat, then salt and pepper the skin. You can fill the cavity with aromatics if you like–my favorite is to use chopped garlic under the skin, then put a quartered lemon and onion in the cavity along with more garlic and some fresh “Poultry Blend” herbs.

Put the bird breast side DOWN at first in a roasting rack, and roast for 25 minutes at 450 degrees. Then take it out of the oven and carefully flip it over. You’ll want to baste it with pan juices or more melted fat at this point, and put it back in the oven with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast. Keep it in the 450 degree oven, breast side UP this time, until the meat thermometer reads 135 degrees. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Then raise the oven temperature to 500 degrees and roast until the thermometer reads 160 degrees, 175 in the thigh. Probably another 10-15 minutes total.

Take it out and let it sit for 20 minutes before carving. This is a good time to do a high-heat roasted vegetable side dish–I find that green beans roasted for about 20 minutes at 450 turn out quite delicious–nice and browned and yummy. Asparagus will take about 10 minutes to roast, because it’s not good when it’s nice and tender like the beans. I did parsnips and turnips, which take about 25 minutes–I put them in for 15 minutes at 450 when the chicken was in there, then put them in for the last 10-15 while the chicken was resting.
roast chicken
Look at that skin! It tasted as good as it looks.

  • Pulykamell

    You might also be interested in Thomas Keller’s high-heat method:

    It’s perfect. I don’t even bother with properly trussing the bird, just either tie the leg ends together, or cut a slit in one of the legs and stick the other one through it (so the legs are basically crossing at the joint).

  • Libby Hall

    Thanks! I rarely bother with trussing either (especially not with the bird I made, which requires flipping).

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