Tips for roasting the perfect chicken

Roasting the perfect chicken is easy if you use my fool-proof steam bath method. You end up with a juicy chicken and a great gravy to serve your family or guests.

Preheat oven to 360 F

compound butter

Step 1-

Making a compound butter, sounds fancy but is really simple. You want to take about half a stick of room temperature butter and place it in a small bowl. Then you need to decide how you want to flavour your chicken, choose a combo of your favorite fresh herbs and seasonings. I happen to have basil on hand so I will use fresh basil, garlic, lemon zest, dried oregano and S+P. You can fine chop these and mix them into the butter by hand or use a small food processor or immersion blender to mix it. Set aside and let the all the flavours mingle.

Step 2-

Prepping your roasting pan. You will want a yellow onion, about 4 cloves of garlic, chicken stock and a rack. Cut the onions into big wedges and lay them in the bottom of your roasting pan. Smash and peel you cloves of garlic and add them to the pan as well. Cover with chicken stock and top with your rack.

trussed chicken

Step 3-

It’s chicken massage time! Easily one of my least favourite kitchen tasks but it really makes your chicken better if you do this. Wash and dry your chicken and season inside the cavity with S+P. Next you want to take small amounts of your compound butter and slide it between the skin and flesh of the bird. The skin should lift fairly easy but it is a bit delicate and you don’t want to rip it so only go as far as you can without tearing it.

Next you want to cover the entire outside of the bird with the remaining butter. Stuff the bird’s cavity with lemon wedges garlic cloves and any remaining herbs effectively flavouring the bird from the inside as it bakes. Tie up the chicken legs or use a skewer to keep it closed, lay the bird in the pan making sure to tuck the little wings under so they don’t burn. Cover and put it in the oven. Don’t touch, peek or poke at your bird for 45 minutes. Seriously, just go peel your potatoes and let it cook!

Step 4-

After 45 minutes you should start to baste your chicken every 20 minutes or so, keep it covered between bastes. When you get down to your last 20 minutes of cooking time (should be about 20 minutes per pound plus 10-20 minutes) you should crank the heat up to 450 F and remove the lid. At this point you will need to bump up the basting frequency to every 5 – 10 minutes to keep the skin moist and to keep it from burning. You will know your bird is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the fattest part of the thigh (not touching the bone!) reads 180 F. If the skin gets too brown and crispy before it cooks through put the cover back on loosely. Remove the whole pan from the oven.

perfectly roasted chicken

Step 5-

Lift the whole rack out of the roasting pan and place it, chicken and all, on a cookie sheet. Lightly cover with tin foil and let it rest for 15 – 20 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, carefully pour all of the juices, the onions and garlic into a small sauce pan and put on medium heat. Use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. Now you need to make a slurry, put about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and the same amount of cold water in a small glass and mix until all the lumps are gone. Stirring your gravy slowly add your slurry in a slow steady stream. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Taste to make sure all the cornstarch flavour has cooked out then reduce heat to low until you are ready to serve your dinner. If the gravy isn’t thick enough for you make a little more slurry, just add a bit at a time because it thickens as it cooks.

That’s it. Seems like a lot of work? Maybe, but your chicken and gravy will turn out perfect every time! Trust me, if you are going through all the time and effort to roast a chicken you want it to be great.

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Pam van Woerkom is the chef and owner of Time To Eat a Vancouver based personal chef service that specializes in preparing delicious and balanced home-cooked meals in advance for you so you can get the most out of life.

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