This is a basic chicken recipe but much more moist and tender than a chicken just popped into the oven.
1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds in weight
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
salt and pepper
1/2 cup salt for brining or use an infuser
Chicken can become very dry in roasting and nearly unpalatable. To avoid dry chicken, you need to infuse water into the chicken. You can do that in one of two ways. Use a vertical roasting rack with an infuser. In this way, you create steam in the body cavity that permeates the meat. The infuser can be loaded with water, juice, cider, pop, or beer. Herbs or spices can be added to the reservoir.
The other way to create a moist chicken, is to soak it in a brine solution for an hour. The salt water will permeate the bird so that the chicken retains water prior to roasting. If you use a brine soak, dissolve one-half cup of salt in 8 to 10 cups of cold water and soak the bird for an hour in the refrigerator just prior to roasting.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- If you are not using an infuser, soak the chicken in 8 to 10 cups of water with the 1/2 cup salt dissolved in the water.
- Wash the chicken and pat it dry. Salt and pepper the body cavity. Place the chicken on a vertical or horizontal baking rack. If you have not soaked the chicken, use a vertical rack with an infuser. Fill the reservoir with the liquid of your choice.
- Use a pastry brush to brush the skin of the chicken with the melted butter. Use a spoon to lift the skin away from the breast meat. Spoon any herbs or herb butter into the pockets and press on the skin to spread the paste onto the breasts or sprinkle salt and pepper into the cavities. (See how this is done in a video clip.)
- Place the chicken in the center of the oven and roast it until it is done, about 1 1/2 hours. Test for doneness with an insta-read thermometer. (See below.)
Cook’s notes: Do not overcook. Use an insta-read thermometer to tell when your chicken is cooked. The thermometer should be inserted deep into the meat but not against the bone since the bones tend to reach a higher temperature than does the meat. The breast meat should test 165 degrees and the thigh meat, 170.
You can roast a chicken without brining or without an infuser but the meat will tend to be much drier. The cooking times will be about the same.
Do not set the chicken in a baking pan to roast. The liquids will drain out of the chicken into the pan and permeate parts of the chicken to make it soggy and greasy. A rack allows the grease to drip away from the chicken.