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When I carve a roast chicken, a flood of juices overwhelms the moat on the carving board and inundates the counter. This is true whether or not I rest the meat before carving. Why? And how do I prevent it?

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    Get a baking tray to sit your carving board in? I use a small chopping board as a carving board because it sits easily in a tray with lots of volume for drip catching. – Spagirl Sep 21 at 20:03
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    @Spagirl sounds like a good answer to me. Post below! – moscafj Sep 21 at 23:14
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As suggested in comments, you could try putting a small cutting/carving board into a large pan or baking tray to hold the liquid better.

In general, this is a good problem to have. If you are carving a whole chicken, and no juices are coming out at all, you've probably overcooked it. Resting will only help so much, as fully cooked chicken will generally be at a temperature when muscle fibers will have tightened and contracted, thereby squeezing out some moisture. It's also possible that your chickens may have been injected with additional brine/broth (though this will generally be indicated on packaging).

As for how to prevent it, I might suggest less carving on the board and more cutting on individual plates. I'm not sure how you cut up a roast chicken, but I generally start by only cutting off about six pieces -- the wings, the leg/thigh quarters at the thigh joint, and with a little practice you should be able to remove about 80%+ of the breast meat intact from each side in one large filet. Depending on the size of your chicken, how many people you are planning to serve and what preferences they have, you can then go further and separate the legs from the thighs, and/or do a few cuts through the entire breast to make more white meat portions. The fewer cuts you make on the carving board, the less juices will leak out there. Instead, you can give more whole cuts (or parts of whole cuts) to people, who can cut them apart on their plates. By that point, they meat will have rested and cooled more so it will release less juice, and any juice that is released will be flavor on their plates too, perhaps to be sopped up by other means.

Traditionally, I know many people tend to think of "carving a chicken" the same as "carving a turkey" and slicing thinly through the breast. To me, that's a lot of work and often results in cold chicken by the time it is served. It also will tend to release more juices during the slicing. Even with a 20 lb. turkey, I tend to cut the entire breast off whole, then make thick slices down through the breast after it is detached and on the board. It keeps the meat warmer, allows everyone to have a bit of skin if they want, and keeps everything moist. Unless you or your guests are really attached to very thin slices of meat, I find it's better to leave things as whole as you can when you put them on people's plates.

  • With any carved meat, the resting period is often a key issue with retaining juice. Even cooks that practice it diligently with roasts and even turkeys, can tend to skip it with smaller items like a roasted chicken in trying to get the meat served while still hot. It is still an important step for quality, and just flat out mess. – dlb Sep 23 at 12:43
  • @dlb - I don't disagree, but I'm not sure where I said otherwise. OP said the juices were flowing out "whether or not the meat was rested," so I offered advice beyond simply resting. Obviously resting is helpful. All I said was resting "can only do so much," which is true if you're cooking meat above rare, as generally the case with chicken. Above that, fibers will tighten and juice will be squeezed out. I never meant to imply resting wasn't the most obvious thing to do, but OP already seems to have tried it. – Athanasius Sep 23 at 21:50
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Even after resting a pool of liquid can still be sitting in the cavity of the chicken, when you cut this pool drains out onto your board. My solution is to stick a long spoon into the chicken the tip it up so the liquid drains out into the pan, this takes a maximum of 30 seconds. I then transfer it to the cutting board and carve.

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