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When I am roasting chicken I either do it with a high temperature (its got good color but the meat is tough and dry) or low temperature (succulent and juicy meat but skin is white and colorless).

What temperature, technique and prep stand behind the holy grail of roast chicken that is both juicy and colored?

  • Whole chicken or parts? – Cos Callis Jul 28 '17 at 14:58
  • How big of a chicken are you generally working with? What internal temperature are you roasting to? Where are you measuring it? Are you trussing the chicken? Are you roasting the chicken alone or on top of veg? (eg the Thomas Keller method - my preferred). When you say high/low temp, roughly how high/low? Are you resting before carving? – Nat Bowman Jul 28 '17 at 16:17
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I provided this answer a couple of years ago for a similar (but not a dup) question: https://cooking.stackexchange.com/a/25668/6279

Soak cheesecloth in melted butter and drape it over the bird prior to putting it in the oven to roast slowly. This will capture the juices making your chicken moist. 30 minutes (or so) prior to finishing remove the cheesecloth and return the bird to the oven to reach that golden color. The butter will help crisp up the skin as well.

I would recommend an oven temp of 275°F (135°C) until the internal temperature of the breast is @145°F (63°C) and allowing it to reach 165°F(74°C) after the cheesecloth has been removed. An important part of this is to use internal temperature as your gauge to when it is done. If you simply watch the clock you may get lucky, but your results won't be consistent.

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CC's option is a good one. Another is the high temp option many like with turkeys. With a high temp option you start with a hot oven, say 450F or even higher, for short period. 10 minutes for a chicken is likely plenty, I use 20-25 minutes for a turkey. This with give you color but will also tend to seal the bird. Now drop the temp and lightly foil the breasts. Lightly only to not hold in steam or you may lose your crisp. I usually drop the temperature to about 250F until the internal temps are up.

This form is designed and often promoted for turkey when the question is asked high or low temperature roasting, this answer is both. It works well with turkey because the skin is almost waterproof and means no need to baste, the bird becomes self basting. It will work similarly with chickens but you need to watch the thermometer more closely. With the smaller mass it is easier to miss your target temps. I would tend towards larger roasting birds with this method, well with any roasting bird I would look for big, plump birds that have been allowed to develop fat pads for a better chance at a juicy product.

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I've had excellent luck with beer can chicken. Start with a smallish bird, 4 lbs. or slightly more. Rub some sort of salt mixture on the chicken. I typically use a standard "season salt", but there's a lot of types that should all work fine. On a gas grill, I start the burners on low and then balance the chicken on the can. Check it every now and then but it's usually done in about an hour. No fuss or messing around. In the end it's very similar to a rotisserie chicken you would get at a grocery store.

Look around here for more details: https://cooking.stackexchange.com/search?q=beer+can+chicken

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Rub the chicken with a glazing mix. Inside & out. Inside for flavor. Outside to seal the skin. Bake at 350f 180c.

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I've had great luck with the approach below. The butter helps to get the golden crispy skin you are looking for while keeping the breast meat juicy. You can use plain unsalted butter sticks found in the US (~1"x1"x6") or butter mixed with seasonings (fresh parsley,thyme) if you prefer.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Rub the inside and out of a 4 lb chicken with 1-2 teaspoons salt. Gently loosen the skin from the breast and insert 3 1/4"x1"x1" thick squares of butter between breast meat and skin on each side. Insert a quartered sweet onion, a few cloves of garlic and a handful of fresh thyme in the cavity. Heat an overproof frying pan large enough to fit the chicken until very hot and then gently place the chicken in the pan, breast side up. (This trick from Cook's Illustrated gives the thighs a head start in roasting) Press the thighs into the hot pan to give them a good sear. Insert a whole well-scrubbed lemon in the cavity opening to keep the flavor elements and juices inside the chicken. Place pan in oven and roast chicken for about 45 minutes to an hour until the thickest part of the thigh is 180F and breast is at 155F. Carefully remove lemon and discard (do not squeeze all the juices out or it will be too lemony.) Let chicken rest for 15 minutes, carve and enjoy.

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