It’s no surprise that the most important thing you need in order to successfully roast a chicken is, in fact, a chicken.
And while technically you could roast a delicious bird without needing much in the way of tools, I have found five key supplies that really make the process more enjoyable and successful.
These five tools are part of what make my method and technique for learning how to roast a chicken different from other recipes you may have tried. They are the unspoken secrets that will set you up to succeed, particularly if you are new to the roast chicken scene.
Today I am sharing the five tools I cannot live without when I roast a chicken.
Take away everything else, but don’t take away my gloves. It’s laughable, but truly, I am not sure I would have ever roasted as many chickens as I have without disposable gloves. Raw poultry, particularly in the whole-bird form, is gross (to me).
You cannot roast a chicken without touching the raw bird. And to really make it sing you have to season the meat underneath the skin, which as you can imagine, is a very hands-on process. Could I do it without gloves? Sure. But am I excited about it? Never.
Disposable gloves remove the yuck factor and provide an easy way to make me feel more comfortable about really getting in there.
CAST IRON SKILLET.
My favorite roasting vessel for a chicken in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. It perfectly houses one sizable chicken with room for the potatoes underneath.
The cast iron gets nice and hot and helps keep the finished bird warm for over an hour. Plus, cast iron skillets are inexpensive and easy to find. Do yourself a favor and try roasting your next chicken in a cast iron skillet. It will deliver every time!
Even after roasting hundred of chickens, I still cannot tell if a bird is fully cooked by looking at it from the outside. There is only one definitive way to know if a chicken is done. You have to take its temperature, and to do that you need a meat thermometer.
Take the guess work out of the equation, and rely on data. Knowing the exact temp of a bird brings me peace of mind and removes any guess work.
Kitchen twine is used to truss the chicken before we roast it. Why do we need to truss?
Dark meat cooks faster than white meat because of its size and location on the bird. Trussing is the process of tying the legs together, binding them up and holding them closer to the white meat to create one solid chicken unit instead of having the bird splayed out.
Trussing allows the bird to cook more evenly and helps ensure your dark meat doesn’t dry out by the time your white meat is fully cooked. Trussing for me means simply tying the two drumsticks together. There are more elaborate methods, but they are too fussy for me.
A SHARP KNIFE.
You’ve touched the raw bird, seasoned it wonderfully, roasted it perfectly, rested it amply, and now it is time to dive in! Who is ready to carve?
There is nothing more deflating than setting out to carve a beautiful roasted chicken only to find your knife is dull and you are left hacking away chunks of meat instead of gracefully slicing.
Carving a chicken is easy once you get the hang of it, but even when you get good at it, it is kind of messy, and can be a little nerve-wracking. Add in a dull knife, and the process is sweat-inducing.
Do yourself a favor and have your knives regularly sharpened professionally. You don’t need to buy a new knife. You need to have your knives sharpened. For most home cooks, once or twice a year is ample. Every time I pick up a sharp knife I am reminded of what a huge difference it makes in the carving process.
If you live in Fort Worth, there is a mobile knife-sharpening van that visits the Central Market parking lot on the first Sunday of each month. I also have taken my knives to House of Blades. Most appliance repair shops also offer knife sharpening. It is worth seeking out a location in your community to make a stop once or twice a year.