4 Tips for a Perfectly Roasted Chicken
There is no single “right” way to roast a chicken to perfection. Nevertheless, experienced cooks generally agree on several tips to ensure a standout meal.
“We love roasting a chicken on a cold winter day with fresh herbs, carrots, potatoes, onions and a little bit of wine. We bake the chicken at a higher temp for 20 min to lock in the juices then reduce to 325 degrees. This will make the chicken nice and juicy. Our favorite for leftovers is using the shredded chicken in homemade chicken tortilla soup. We also sell packets of Tortilla Soup in our store to make things fast and efficient,” explained Rochelle Holder, owner of Lakewood Meats & Sausage.
You don’t need fancy gear for a perfectly roasted chicken. Despite lots of gimmicky equipment that work to varying degrees, you can’t beat an old-fashioned roasting pan, with removable rack. The rack elevates the bird above the juices released in cooking and provides enough airflow for the skin to crisp nicely.
A meat thermometer is the best aid for determining when the chicken is done. Inserted into the thigh, it should read 175 degrees. Another method employs a sharp paring knife, inserted into an upper thigh. If any red meat is visible, the chicken needs more cooking. If the juices run clear, the bird is ready.
For trussing the bird, you can buy butcher’s twine, but any spool of clean string will work.
Obviously, the most important element is the bird itself. Lodi's best butcher shop has just what you need, courtesy of Mary’s Chicken. This family farm raises its chickens in the fresh air, on sun-fed pasture, in small groups. This farming method is not only humane, but makes for a healthier, more flavorful product.
2. Season First
A common failing of roasted chicken is rubbery or soggy skin. Pre-seasoning with salt draws excess moisture from the skin before roasting. Kosher salt works best. Its large granules cover more of the skin, without causing an excessively salty flavor. A simple rub of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper will work, but our special House Seasoning will give the chicken extra flavor. Lift the skin to rub the seasoning underneath as well.
Let the seasoned bird sit for at least 30 minutes before roasting. Some cooks keep the seasoned chicken in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
3. Basic Techniques
After preheating the oven to 350 degrees, truss the bird by stringing the “ankles” together then winding the twine around the wings to tuck them close to the body. This will keep them from drying out before the breast meat is fully cooked. Place the trussed chicken on the rack, breast side up.
A small bird may need only 90 minutes of roasting. Larger ones could take more than two hours. If the bird is browning too much, cover with a tent of aluminum foil.
The roasted bird should sit on the counter for 15 minutes before carving. This rest allows for a redistribution of natural juices, ensuring succulence.
Chopped, cooked chicken will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for four days. Transform it into classic chicken salad. Use it as the meat accent in a Chinese stir fry. Toss it into pesto-covered pasta along with sautéed zucchini and mushrooms. And don’t forget the bones. Simmer them in a slow cooker, with salt, chopped onion, parsley and carrots for 24 hours. Strain, and you have the makings for yummy soups and sauces.