After failing countless times, we’ve obsessed over coming up with practical ways we can improve our roasted chickens. We found that the majority of our faults stemmed from minor errors that are easily avoidable with the right formula.
We decided to share our findings in the hopes of helping anyone who might be struggling with the same thing. Here are our 9 tips to roasting the perfect bird.
1. Choose a “Roaster” Bird
What’s a “roaster” bird you ask? Roaster birds are fattier, older birds that tend to cook very well when roasted. The fat content is key here as it provides moisture and flavor that makes this type of cooking so special.
Good butchers will label these birds “roaster birds”, but if you’re having trouble finding one, ask your butcher for a fattier, older bird.
Get this step right and you’ve set yourself up for success.
2. Submerge in a Brine
At its most basic level, a brine is a salt/water solution. Some people will add different spices and herbs but this is completely optional and sometimes overkill.
Submerging your bird in a brine at least 24 hours before cooking will give the salt enough time to penetrate and sufficiently season all layers of the bird. This really helps to make the flavors “pop” and also helps keep the bird moist during cooking.
To make a simple salt/water brine, mix 4 tablespoons of salt per quart of water. Fill your vessel high enough to completely submerge the bird without fear of overflowing. Submerge, cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours prior to cooking.
3. Bring to Room Temperature Before Cooking
This is a rookie mistake that we don’t see too often anymore but it’s worth mentioning. Getting your bird to room temperature prior to cooking is key for two reasons.,/p>
First, it helps the bird cook evenly throughout. Room temperature ingredients always cook more evenly than cold ones.
Second, it allows the initial broiling period to happen faster which reduces the risk of overcooking the inside during the broiling stage.
4. Massage Herbs into the Skin
Herbs are a no brainer when it comes to roasting birds. But many people make the mistake of sprinkling the herbs carelessly and letting them float on the surface. This makes for a delicious outside but a depthless inside.
Adding your herbs to an oil and massaging them into the bird allows for optimal contact and a more complex flavor profile. Simply combine your herbs of choice with some olive oil and rub evenly all over the bird.
Learn From Experience: if you’re using herbs with a thick stem, it’s best to chop them up before adding them to the oil. This will help release more flavor and prevent the stem from piercing the skin and leaving punctures.
5. Truss It Up
Trussing is the process of tying the legs and wings of the chicken close to the body using twine. This helps the chicken cook evenly by keeping everything uniform.
To truss, start by tucking the wings behind the bird’s back. Next, take some kitchen twine and tie the legs together snugly. You can make this as tight or loose as you’d like but we recommend keeping it pretty snug. Once you’re finished, cut off any excess twine and discard.
6. Use a Baking Rack
We wrestled with this concept for quite a while but ultimately found that placing the bird on a baking rack leads to more even cooking. Allowing airflow beneath the bird ensures that all parts of the bird are exposed to the same type and degree of heat.
7. Broil first, then Cook
We found that broiling first allows you to brown the bird to your specification without fear of overcooking the inside of the bird. Broil at the end and you risk cooking the whole bird through prior to your preferred browning level.
You can also opt to use a countertop roaster oven if you need the space in your home oven. Just keep in mind that the roaster ovens struggle to brown due to the lower heating temperatures and the retained moisture.
8. Check Temperature with a Thermometer
After years of cooking larger items, I still find myself under or overcooking when I don’t use a thermometer. It used to be a hit to my ego but I’ve now accepted that a precision cook uses precision tools to ensure a precise result.
The USDA tells us the safe minimum internal cooking temperature for chicken is 165 degrees F.
9. Rest Your Chicken After Cooking (10 minutes at least)
This is a crucial, yet often overlooked, step in the cooking process. Once your bird has reached the optimal internal temperature, remove it from the heat. Just like with steak, chicken needs to rest after cooking in order to allow the juices to redistribute evenly throughout.
If you cut into your chicken right away, all the delicious juices will pour out and your bird will be dry. Trust us on this one, give it at least 10 minutes to rest before cutting in.
There you have it, our foolproof guide to the perfect roasted bird. By following these simple tips, you’ll be sure to impress your next dinner party with a beautiful and delicious bird.
And if you’re feeling really ambitious, try using some of these techniques on a turkey! Just remember, the larger the bird, the longer it will need to cook.