Ten Top Tips For Perfect Roast Chicken
Everyone loves a whole chicken roasted to perfection, or a trayful of golden, crunchy chicken pieces, but it’s not always easy to get this just right.
Because the breast of a chicken is so lean and light, it tends to take less time to cook than the dense, darker meat in the legs and thighs.
Preventing the chicken breasts from drying out in the oven, while making sure the bird is cooked right through, is the secret to excellent results every time.
Try these tips and tricks for roasting chicken:
A good-quality chicken often makes all the difference to the end result. Choose chickens that are firm, meaty and plump, with a smooth, light-golden skin and not too much visible fat. A chicken that looks thin, flabby or lopsided should be avoided, as should a bird that has a pale or bluish tinge. When you’re buying a frozen chicken, make sure the skin is undamaged, that there is no build-up of ice in the packet and that the packaging is intact and unbroken.
You can save a lot of money (up to 25%!) by buying whole chickens and cutting them into portions – or butterflying them - yourself. It’s also far easier on the pocket to buy whole bone-in chicken breasts and to remove the skin and small breast bone yourself. To find out how to cut up a whole chicken, watch this easy video tutorial.
Pushing a little flavoured olive oil, margarine or a light stuffing under the skin of a chicken helps to keep it moist and juicy during the cooking process. Make a ‘pocket’ by slipping a hooked finger underneath the skin and gently loosening it. Smooth some margarine flavoured with chopped herbs, garlic and lemon zest over the breast skin, then pat it flat and pull the skin back into place. This works on whole chickens, breasts and thighs. Here is a recipe that uses this technique: Mushroom and Onion Stuffed Roast Chicken.
Chicken roasted in a bag stays tender and succulent and has no chance to dry out in the hot air of the oven. Knorr Cook-In-Bags are so versatile because you can add all sorts of vegetables and herbs to the bags to create a whole meal-in-one. For extra-crisp skin, cut open the bag 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Here are some of the most popular KNORR Cook-In-Bag chicken recipes on whatsfordinner.co.za: Creamy Lemon Chicken Cooked in a Bag, Festive Chicken in a Bag, and Sticky Chicken Wings. You’ll find many more similar recipes on our ‘What’s In the Bag’ board on Pinterest!
If you’re making a chicken casserole, stew or similar dish, fry the chicken, skin-down, in a little hot oil for a few minutes on either side to create a crisp skin. It is the golden residue left on the bottom of the pan that creates rich and wonderful flavours in chicken dishes. Drain off any excess fat, then add the liquid and continue with the recipe.
When you’re roasting a whole chicken, arrange a bed of vegetables – sliced carrots, onions, celery, garlic and herb sprigs – on the bottom of the roasting pan, and add a KNORR Chicken Stock Pot. These will add extra flavour to your gravy, and you can strain the sauce through a sieve to remove the pieces when you’re ready to serve it.
Pushing a few interesting ingredients into the cavity of a chicken will help to perfume its flesh and keep the breast moist. Slices of onion and garlic, half a lemon, a few sprigs of herbs and a pinch of black pepper create wonderful fragrances. Tie the ends of the drumstick together with kitchen string to keep the cavity closed.
This is a great way of roasting a chicken if you don’t own an oven, and it’s a method that produces a beautiful tender and flavoursome result. Try Chef Wendy’s classic Pot-Roasted Chicken.
To check whether a whole chicken is cooked right through, push the tip of a sharp knife into the joint where the thigh meets the bird, and lever it open. If the juices are clear, and there is no sign of pinkness in the flesh, the chicken is done. You can also check for doneness by wiggling the end of the drumstick: if it moves freely, and independently of the rest of the chicken, it’s done. To check for doneness in joints of chicken, cut into the deepest part of a thigh portion to make sure the juices are clear.
Chickens, like all roasts, do benefit from ‘resting’ time when they come out of the oven. Loosely cover your roast chicken with a piece of tin foil and let it sit, undisturbed, for up to 20 minutes. If you like, you can turn the bird upside down so the juices flow back into the breasts.