Published March 1, 2009.
Applying a glaze to a whole chicken can land you in a sweet mess. To resolve this sticky situation, we brought an outdoor method indoors.
Most glazed roast chicken recipes offer some variation on these instructions: Roast a chicken as you would normally, painting on a sweet glaze before the bird is done. It sounds simple but actually turns up a host of troubles, as the problems inherent in roasting chicken (dry breast meat, flabby skin, big deposits of fat under the skin) are compounded by the glaze (won’t stick to the meat, burns in patches, introduces moisture to already flabby skin).
Evenly glazed roast chicken with crisp skin and moist, tender meat.
We started with a large roaster chicken, using the method we developed for Crisp Roast Chicken. We separated the skin from the meat and pricked holes in the fat deposits to allow rendered fat to escape, then rubbed it with salt and baking powder—to dehydrate the skin and help it to crisp—and let the chicken rest before roasting it breast-side down on a V-rack. With the chicken nearly done, we brushed it with a glaze and finished with a blast of high heat. While the meat was moist and evenly cooked, the glaze was disappointing. The top of the bird was a lacquered mahogany, while the bottom was merely golden brown—not the deep, even tone we expected. And steaming under a moist glaze left the skin soggy. We needed to find a way to glaze the whole bird evenly. A vertical roaster was an option, but then we remembered a simpler alternative: a beer can. Why not bring this technique from the barbecue circuit into the oven?
We prepared the chicken as before. After resting it, we grabbed a can of beer and straddled the chicken on top. We then placed it in a roasting pan (the helper handles on the pan make it the best choice for transporting the bird), and slid it into the oven. The technique seemed like a winner—no awkward flipping, glazing every nook and cranny was easy, and fat dripped freely out of the bird. But cutting into the chicken revealed that the breast, now exposed to the high oven heat for the entire cooking time, was dry and tough. Scaling back the temperature resolved this issue, but even without steaming under a glaze, the skin was far from crisp.
To develop a crisp skin, the chicken needs to finish roasting at a very high heat. But in the time it takes the oven to reach a high heat, the delicate breast meat overcooks. With regular roast chicken, we’ve solved this problem by letting it rest at room temperature while the oven heats up for its final blast. We tried this method on our vertically roasted chicken. The rested-before-blasted bird came out crisper than before and the breast meat was perfectly cooked, but the glaze was still robbing the chicken of optimum skin quality. This was the problem: Most recipes call for a watery glaze that slowly reduces and thickens as the bird cooks—a hindrance when you’re trying to crisp the skin. But thickening our glaze with cornstarch, reducing it to a syrupy consistency, and applying it before the final five minutes of roasting gave us chicken with a burnished sheen of deep brown. Better still, its rendered skin crackled as we cut into it, revealing moist, tender meat.list of recipes