How to roast chicken

Article by: Allrecipes staff  |  Picture by: cookin'mama
How to roast chicken
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Never underestimate the power of a perfect roast chicken. An example of the beauty of simplicity, roast chicken has the power to comfort, satisfy and impress.

Roast chicken, demystified
Roasting a chicken takes a little longer than some other cooking methods, but it actually requires very little preparation time.

Since roasting two chickens is just as easy as roasting one, any leftover cooked chicken can be used in chicken sandwiches, soup, pies, pasta dishes or salads. As an added bonus, it's economical, too: whole chickens work out to be much less expensive than a pack of chicken breasts, thighs or legs.

The perfect roast chicken needn't be elusive. With these priceless tips, you'll be enjoying delectable roast chicken dinners for years to come:


Skin is in

Crispy, fragrant roast chicken skin is absolutely delicious; some fans insist it's the best part of the bird. Since it contains a great deal of fat, many people remove it in order to avoid the extra calories. Whether you choose to eat it or discard it, always leave the skin on during the roasting process, as it holds in moisture and prevents the meat from drying out.

Check out our Roast chicken recipe collection.
Divine brine

One secret to really flavourful, juicy roast chicken is brining: soaking in salt water. To brine a chicken:

• Dissolve 8 tablespoons of coarse sea salt (or 4 tablespoons regular salt) in two litres of water. Immerse the chicken in the solution and place immediately in the fridge. Let it soak for at least 1 hour, but no longer than 5 or 6 hours.

• Pour off the brine and rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat it dry with kitchen roll. For extra-crispy skin - and if you have the time - return the bird to the fridge and let it air-dry for another hour, or overnight, before roasting.

If you decide to forego the brining step, just rinse the chicken with cool water, then pat it dry with kitchen paper. Rinsing removes residue and some surface bacteria, and drying off the chicken ensures that the skin will brown.
Dress it up

A chicken roasted with nothing but salt, pepper and butter is very tasty indeed, but it's also easy to build on these flavours. Chop up fresh herbs and tuck them under the chicken's skin along with a few knobs of butter, or stuff sprigs into the chicken cavity along with quartered onions and cloves of garlic. Wedges of aromatic fruit such as lemons or oranges will perfume the bird as it roasts, infusing the meat with extra flavour.
Rub it down

Many cooks use a dry rub: a blend of dried and ground spices, rubbing them under the chicken's skin and inside the cavity. Since they're under the skin, the flavourings won't burn; plus they'll infuse the meat. This is a great way to add some spice if you'll be discarding the skin.

• For a spicy and aromatic chicken, try chilli powder or pureed fresh chillies, cumin and sage.

• For an Indian-inspired bird, mix together equal parts ground coriander and cumin, plus turmeric and a pinch or two of cardamom or garam masala.

• To give the chicken a Thai flair, try a paste of ginger, lemongrass, green chillies, coriander and lime juice.

A bird you can truss

If you choose, you can truss the bird before roasting it - that is, tie it with cooking twine to keep the legs close to the body. This is not an essential step; however, it does make the chicken slightly easier to handle, and it helps hold the stuffing in if you've stuffed the chicken.

• To truss a chicken, cut about a metre long length of heatproof cooking twine.
• Lay the chicken on a clean surface with the breast facing up.
• Hold one end of the string in each hand, and loop the centre of the string underneath the chicken's tail.
• Catch the ends of the legs inside the string, then cross the string over the chicken's breast, making an X.
• Loop the string under and around the wings, then tie the string snugly in a knot across the middle of the breast. Make sure that the ends of the wings are tucked in.

Don't forget to check out our Roast chicken recipe collection for loads of foolproof recipes!
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