It’s the easiest thing in the world to roast a mediocre chicken. But if you want your chicken to deliver the kind of serious flavor and texture you can usually only get from professional cooking, you’re going to want to borrow some of the tricks of the trade.
To that end, here are four restaurant-industry secrets that can help you roast the perfect chicken every time.
1. Buy Local
Not all chicken is the same, and if you really want to re-create a restaurant-style roast chicken, you need to start with a premium bird. Unfortunately, many of the whole chickens sold at grocery stores and supermarkets have come from industrialized farming operations that raise birds in stressful and unhealthy conditions.
Buying local whole chickens from farms that take a more humane and sustainable approach is the best way to ensure that you get a flavourful end product, and when you buy through a local meat delivery service like truLOCAL you’re guaranteed to get high-quality meat at an affordable price.
2. Brine the Meat
Brining is a long-standing cooking practice that helps the meat absorb more moisture so it stays juicier when you cook it. There are many different ways to brine a chicken, but what all of them have in common is a mixture of salt, sugar, and herbs that will chemically interact with the meat before you cook it.
The most common types of brining are:
- Wet Brining: In a wet brine, you mix your salt, sugar, and aromatics in a large pot of water, bring to a boil, and let cool. When the water is cold, bathe the chicken in it for between twelve and twenty-four hours before cooking.
- Dry Brining: In a dry brine, combine the salt, sugar, and aromatics and then apply to the surface of the bird and let sit for four to six hours. This process works more quickly, but the trick is to make sure the entire chicken is coated in the rub.
Many people will do a wet brine the night before they plan on cooking and simply leave the bird to soak overnight. This will mean that it is ready to cook by mid-afternoon.
3. Cold Dry Before Cooking
After brining, the next key step is to cold dry. Simply put your chicken on a drying rack in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the bird settle and allow the water to evaporate (you should do this even if you dry-brined it, once you’ve washed the salt and seasoning off).
Many chefs swear by cold drying as a way of briefly curing the meat so the flavor can come out more strongly when it is roasted.
4. Let it Settle Before Cutting
The final step to making the perfect roast chicken is also the hardest — not because it requires some sort of specialized technique, but because it requires a lot of will power!
Letting your chicken set after roasting will allow the juices to redistribute and settle, so you’ll get less leakage when you carve it and enjoy juicier, moister, more tender meat.
If you want to bring your cooking to the next level, you need to invest some time in taking the extra steps that will impart a better flavour and texture to the meat. While it might require a little more planning, when it comes time to carve the bird, the patience will pay off.