Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Standing Ovation Roast Chicken

I started using stand up roasters for whole chickens when we were living in Australia.  The weather was often too hot to cook inside the house, so we adopted the classic Australian lifestyle of barbecuing.  I wound up purchasing three of these racks so we could utilize the full space of the grill.  Keeping a supply of frozen roasted chicken on hand in the freezer became a staple of our diet and made for easy additions to simple summer salads, as well as winter casseroles.

Now that we are back in the States, I still find myself roasting multiple chickens at a time, but unfortunately can only fit 2 at a time into my oven.  I prepare the racks by covering the pie plate shaped bottoms with aluminum foil, and setting them onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  This makes clean up a lot easier.  Depending on the source of the chickens, they may release more fat and water than the bottom pie plate can accommodate.

Often I will quarter a small onion and insert it into the interior of the rack.  I then place the chicken onto the rack and stuff fresh herbs through the neck, into the cavity of the chicken.  Olive oil drizzled over the top of the bird will help to keep the breast from drying out.  Sprinkle them with salt (seasoned or kosher) and pepper and rub the seasonings and oil over the surface of the chicken.  I place the chickens onto the cookie sheet with the breasts facing each other.  I think this helps keep the breast meat a bit moister.

Let the chickens rest on the counter while the oven reaches your desired temperature.  I like to begin my roasting, whether chicken or other types of meat, by heating the oven to 425F.  Once the oven has reached this temperature, I place the chickens into the oven and allow the oven to return to 425F.  Once the oven has reheated to 425F, I drop the temperature down to 325F and allow the poultry to roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  I'll check the temperature of the birds at around the 1 hour mark, and then again at 30 min intervals until it achieves the required 180F internal temperature.  For extra crispy skin you can return the temperature to 400F for the last 15 to 30 minutes of cooking.

After roasting, let the chickens cool on the racks for about 15 to 20 minutes, and then remove to a platter.  This can be tricky, as the bottom pie plate is now full of liquid.  This is where the cookie tray comes in handy.  I will dump the juices onto the tray and then place the chicken on a platter by inserting a meat fork into the neck and picking up the bottom plate of the roasting rack with a pot holder.

I love the economy of roasting a whole chicken, rather than utilizing cut up pieces.  These 2 chickens will result in approximately 8 meals, as the next step after enjoying roast chicken the first night is to remove the meat from the bones and freeze.  I then combine the carcasses and drippings from roasting and begin making soup!