Perfecting the Roast Chicken

Thursday, October 15, 2015


This is my usual cooking notes to remind myself of what I have been cooking.

Not that I get to cook a lot these days since I took up my new assignment at a very busy church (hint - it has the largest cross in Singapore - see pic). It is a cool church.

The humble roast chicken is something that is commonly done in many households and it does seem like our kitchen ovens are conventionally designed for it.

My idea of a good roast chicken is this: the skin should be crisped, nicely browned and the meat flavourful and moist. That is the reason why putting the chicken on a stack of vegetable is a big no-no for me. It was a method I used when I was following a cookbook. The meat should be moist and flavourful and this means you should not overcook your chicken.

I made a batch recently and seem like many in the party like it. Here was what I did.

1. I ensured I have a good fresh an large chicken to begin with. Go to the wet market for these. I went for a 2 kg large broiler. Larger size means the chicken has lived longer and the meat is more flavourful.

I am working here now.  
2. Secondly, I brined it. How salty should the solution be? It should be as salty as seawater, if this tip is at all helpful. The whole idea is to get some saltiness (salt = flavour) into the chicken meat and make it more moist when roasted, as the liquid retention will be better. I added a lemon (juice and skin) for the citrus flavour.  I kept it in the brine and fridge the pot overnight for 12 hours. For details on how to brine, check this link or google for it. As long as the chicken is submerged in salty water, that is fine by me and I don't bother to measure. If you have the time, this additional step of brining will improve the outcome.

3. Then I left the chicken to dry for a few hours in the fridge. This ensure that it will be easier to crisped up the skin in the same time you use to cook the meat. I never need to set the temperature higher than 180˚C to get the skin nicely browned.

4.  I will usually truss the chicken. This keeps the chicken in a good shape as it cooks and tucks the wing tips in to avoid burning them. I added a lemon into the cavity to keep the breast meat moist. Poke some small holes in the lemon using a fork to prevent it from bursting in the heat. Add salt to some butter and rub all over the chicken.

5. Put the chicken on the rack (a curved one is even better), leaving a good 3-4 inches of gap so that the hot over air can cook and crisp the underside. For the tray below, add some dices of 1 large carrot and 2 white onions. Add some water to prevent the veg from burning.

6. Put into the oven (baking with fan function) and roast for 50 minutes 180˚C if you are roasting one bird. It will be 1 hour 10 minutes for two birds. As every oven and chicken is different, adjust accordingly. Hey, it really can't go too far wrong as long as you don't burn up your chicken. Assuming that your oven is accurate (some old ovens are actually looking at a higher temp) and the air flow is good, the chicken can be roasted without the need for it to change position. Remove from oven and let it rest for 20 minutes (it is still cooking.)

7. To make the sauce, pour the stuff in the bottom tray (veg and chicken juices) in a pot and blend to make a sauce. Season it if you need to.

There are other kinds of sauces which you can make and variation with spices and herbs to flavour the chicken etc. If you put enough veg at the bottom, you can also make a soup at the same time.

We leave that for another post.

Experiment, understand the basics right and your roast chicken should turn out perfectly.

There is another more detailed post here: Roasting a crisped Chicken and making a good Sauce

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