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I've been using a rotisserie oven to bake my chickens for a while now. However, it's no longer available to me.

My first attempt at baking a chicken in a long time:

Purchase a chicken that's approximately 5 LBS.
Removed the innards of the chicken and washed it.
Marinaded the chicken with Johnny's Seasoning.
Place the chicken on a deep baking tray, resting on a grill.
Let the chicken sit for 2 hours at room temperature.
Baked the chicken at preheated 400 degrees on middle rack for 1:20:00.
Allow the chicken to sit for 20 minutes, then cut it into pieces for consumption.

My results: The chicken was nearly done, but one thigh was a little bloody at the joint. The other was very bloody at the joint. I microwaved the bloodier pieces and ate them anyway. The rest of the chicken was cooked pretty well.

My questions: How can I improve upon my process? Should I be baking the chicken at a lower temperature (350 degrees) for longer? Should I be baking at 400 degrees for longer? Should I raise the temperature to 425 degrees?

I've considered using a meat thermometer, but it seems daunting to me and I haven't had a lot of lucky in the past. Maybe my thermometer is just bad?

Any advice is appreciated, but if you can provide reasons for why you advise things, I would be most grateful.

Update:

I've tried some variations with lower temperature and higher temperatures. The method that has worked best for me is a simpler one adapted from this link:

http://thepauperedchef.com/2006/06/kafkas_simple_r.html

Purchase a chicken that's approximately 5 LBS.
Removed the innards of the chicken and washed it.
Marinaded the chicken with Johnny's Seasoning.
Let the chicken sit for 2 hours at room temperature.
Place the chicken on a deep baking tray, resting breast-side down on a grill.
Baked the chicken at preheated **500** degrees on middle rack for 50 minutes (10 min/lb).
Allow the chicken to sit for 10 minutes, then cut it into pieces for consumption.

As the link warns, there is lots of smoke. The breast is tender, the thighs are juicy and cooked. It's the best chicken I've ever made.

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I'm curious to know why you let the chicken sit outside for two hours before baking it. I usually put mine straight from defrosting into marinade then into the oven. –  ashes999 Feb 20 '12 at 17:37
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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

One thing I wonder is if your oven temperature is accurate? An oven thermometer helps there. As well as a pizza stone to maintain a steady temperature. Also, how big was your chicken? Maybe you didn't cook long enough for the weight.

The method I use is this: Pre-heat the oven to 450. Clean bird, remove innards, truss. Salt (Tbls or so) and pepper or otherwise rub on marinade. Place the bird on a large cast iron skillet and cook for 1 hour. Remove bird and let rest for 10 minutes and meanwhile make a sauce utilizing the remnants in the pan. The skin is brown and the meat is juicy. This method is in Michael Ruhlman's, 'Ratio'. I find it to be a great method for basic roasted chicken.

I usually use a 4 - 5 lb chicken and haven't checked the internal temps since the first few times of using this recipe except for when I'm at or over the upper end.

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I think this works well for a chicken without stuffing, this is similar to this method here: deliaonline.com/recipes/main-ingredient/poultry-and-game/… –  tonylo Sep 25 '10 at 1:52
    
Is the iron skillet a key component of the recipe you describe? When I bake my chickens, I place them in a deep baking tray with the chicken resting in a grill. Something that looks like this: imghost.indiamart.com/data/C/0/MY-465187/… –  Arlen Oct 1 '10 at 15:15
    
@Arlen - I don't think so. I've also used a roasting pan without the grill and the result was fine. However, the thing about the large skillet is that after cooking, you remove the chicken, and bring the pan to the stovetop to make a sauce right in the pan. –  wdypdx22 Oct 1 '10 at 15:39
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Cooking times for whole chicken's vary by weight.

350 or 400 degrees would both be fine (although you need to change the times depending on which you picked)

Next time try:

• 190 C, 375 F, Gas Mark 5. • 20 minutes per lb(500g) plus 20 minutes extra.

When it reaches the time pull on the leg, if it isn't wiggly leave it in, if it is pull the leg away a bit, if the juices run clear you're done if not leave it in until they are. Every oven is different so this is the only definitive way to time a chicken.

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What are the advantages of using 350 versus 400? –  Arlen Sep 24 '10 at 10:46
    
@Arlen - higher temperature has a general correlation with crispier skin, although it can also lead to dryer meat. That's why CI/ATK when looking for both did a low temperature finished off with a high one. –  justkt Sep 24 '10 at 14:10
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In terms of recipes for baking a whole chicken in the oven, there are lots of options in terms of temperature. Different variants will produce crispier skin, more moist meat, etc.

I've used recipes from America's Test Kitchen that call for varying the temperature from 350 to 500 at different times for different results, flipping the chicken in the roasting pan, and more.

A thermometer is one of your best tools in the kitchen. You should absolutely get one and use it - at some point you may become good enough to learn to tell doneness by touch and sight, but until then absolutely rely on a thermometer. Make sure to get into the center of your meat without touching bone.

What you need to do is check your chicken in a variety of places with your thermometer. Make sure that your thigh reaches at least 170 degrees F (as opposed to 165 degrees F for the breast). Measure the breast and both thighs before removing.

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I've tried 370 as well as starting out with 500 & dropping to 350 after 10 mins (covering the top with an aluminium foil in this case). The correct param has always been inserting a meat thermometer to ensure that it hits 175 deg at the meatiest part of the breast (attn: thermometer shouldn't touch the bone)

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