How to Roast a Chicken (Recipes Kids Should Know Before Leaving Home)
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a chef say, “The one thing every person should know how to cook is a roast chicken.” Because of this I have tried many times to master the art of the roast chicken…and failed. These same chefs share recipes and techniques, which I have dutifully tried. But the chicken never comes out as great as I would hope. Roasting a chicken just isn’t as simple as these chefs make it sound.
I have finally found the key to wonderfully roasted whole chicken and I’m going to share my secrets with you. At first pass the process may seem complicated, but I promise it is not hard at all. I feel confident that with the tricks I’m about to share, you will not only learn how to roast a chicken, but you will learn how to roast it the best way possible. Kids, you will be surprising adults left and right!
What is the trick to the best Roast Chicken?
There are three tricks to roasting chicken well:
- Spatchcock, a.k.a. Butterfly, the bird
- Dry brine
- Use a thermometer
1. Spatchcock, a.k.a. Butterfly, the bird
So, what the heck is spatchcock? When you spatchcock (or butterfly) a turkey or chicken, it means that you cut out the back bone and cook the bird flat. Normally when you roast a chicken whole without spatchcocking, the dark meat is tucked up under the bird and the breast meat is more exposed to the heat. This means the breast meat cooks faster than the dark meat, so by the time the dark meat is fully cooked you end up with dried out white meat. By cutting out the backbone and cooking the bird flat, the dark meat is more exposed to the heat and cooks in the same amount of time as the breast meat. This means both the dark meat and the white meat will be juicy and delicious!
This video shows you how to cut the backbone out of a chicken. If you are in middle or high school, you can probably do it yourself, but please try it with an adult at least once! If you are in elementary school, have a parent help you! Alternatively, the butcher at the grocery store can be very helpful. When you buy the chicken, ask if they can cut the backbone out for you. That is definitely the easiest way!
2. Dry Brine
Brining is the process of adding salt to your chicken, which both seasons the meat as well keeps the meat moist while cooking. Many people use a wet brine, which involves soaking the bird in salty water. However, a dry brine is more effective and easier. Dry brining is not as common and people will question if it works as well. Stick to your guns: dry brining is better than wet brining, hands down!
Dry brining your chicken is super simple – you just sprinkle a ton of salt all over the bird and let it sit for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours. That’s it! Done! (More details in the recipe below.)
3. Use a Thermometer
The very best way to know if the chicken is cooked all the way through but not overcooked (i.e. dried out!) is to use a thermometer. You can use a meat thermometer and keep it in the bird throughout cooking or use an instant read thermometer and check it periodically. I have an instant read thermometer that can stay in the chicken while cooking and has an alarm, so it goes off for the temperature I set (in this case 150ºF).
There you go! The secrets to perfectly roasted chicken! Here is the recipe so you can do it yourself!
Published March 14, 2018. Last updated March 14, 2018.