Who doesn’t love a good roasted chicken? I know I do. Basically, with the exception of turkey which I find inexplicably disgusting, if it is a bird and you roast it, this girl is a huge fan. When I was a kid, we would roast cornish hens for every major holiday and baste them with 50s-style rum & orange sauce. Yum yum yum. BBQ chicken on a charcoal grill is probably my all-time fav version of roasted chicken. Close second is my friend Stephanie’s lemon-rosemary-olive oil chicken, which is an easy recipe but requires a fairly serious amount of basting. Boston Market does an amazing glaze for their commercially-available chicken, but I can’t for the life of me crack what’s in it, and the internet gives me dead leads (there is FOR SURE soy sauce in that chicken, people). So I am always on the lookout for a new roasted chicken recipe.
One Saturday morning, I caught a DVRed episode of America’s Test Kitchen (or just ATK for all you foodies) where they broke down a recipe for a glazed, roasted chicken that promised to have crispy skin. Sign me up!
After several months of putting it off, I decided to finally thaw that chicken in my freezer and experiment. You have to pay Cooks Illustrated for the recipe, or you can watch PBS for free, or you can read this pirated version. It has a ton of steps, which allegedly help the skin crisp up. I will admit that I typically don’t have a ton of problems getting my roasted chicken crispy, but apparently it’s a common problem.
First, they want you to put 4 1-inch cuts near where the thigh meets the chicken on both sides. Then, you have to separate the chicken skin from the flesh with your hands which is gross and difficult to do without tearing the skin (unless you have a ginormous chicken). Then, you further prick about 20 holes in the skin to let the extra fat escape. This makes me wonder if they are mistaking duck for chicken… THEN, you get pissed off that you’re doing all of these steps to make the chicken skin crispy when we could just fucking baste it or crank the heat up in the oven. But, alas, there are more steps…
Next, you must pat the chicken dry, mix together salt, pepper, and baking soda, and rub it all over the chicken. After the chicken massage, you are ordered to put the chicken in the fridge to “dry out” for an hour. My chicken didn’t dry so much as release a ton of liquid which it sat on in the fridge for an hour. Whatevs.
So, after an hour of waiting to put the damned chicken in the oven, you take it out and preheat the oven to 325°. You’re going to cook the chicken using the beer can method–get a tallboy, pour half of it out for your homies, spray-oil the hell out of it, and shove it up the chicken’s ass (I filled a Monster can with white wine because I think beer tastes like piss). Then, put the chicken in a roasting pan upright and bake for 90 minutes or so. After about 80 minutes, mine looked like this:
So you take the half-cooked chicken out and crank up the oven to 500°. Now, you make the glaze, which consists of a mixture of maple syrup, cider vinegar, marmalade, dijon mustard, pepper, and butter and thicken it with a cornstarch slurry after it reduces a bunch on the stove. Then, you put some water in the bottom of your roaster so that it doesn’t start a fire in your oven, baste the chicken with some of the glaze, and put it back in the oven for about 30 minutes. When I took the glazed chicken out, it looked like this:
After you take the glazed chicken out, you’re supposed to drain the roaster of pan juices and put them into a fat separator. I don’t have a fat separator, so I just put them into a glass and wait for the fat to separate. At this point, you’re supposed to add the pan juices to the glaze to make a sauce. I’ll be honest, I thought this sauce was disgusting. I kept messing with it, but there was nothing I could do to take that horrible vinegar taste out. The pan juices, on the other hand, were the effing BOMB. What I should have done was just make a quick-thickened sauce out of the pan juices and maybe some reserved wine. But I didn’t, and the glaze went into the garbage.
In the end, the chicken was good, but a pain in the ass to make. It reminded me faintly of a 90s Budget Gourmet microwave orange-glazed chicken dinner. I feel like a ton of the steps are unnecessary like separating the skin and pricking it. I would do the baking soda rub again, because I think the salt gave a good crust on the chicken. And the beer can method of roasting was great (except for that whole charred, smoking aluminum inside my food thing). I think I’ll try again with BBQ rub and sauce in the near future.
Verdict: meh. Gross glaze.