Chapter 4 - Poultry

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How to Roast Poultry: A Master Recipe

Birds that have a great deal of fat are good for roasting and, most often, those are cooked whole or butterflied. (See How to Cut Up a Bird). Roast the following types of birds:

Turkey: 5 to 25 pounds

Chicken: 4 to 7 pounds, up to 5 months old

Cornish game hen: 1 to 2 pounds

Capon: 6 to 9 pounds

Duck, duckling, or goose: 4 to 10 pounds


(Note: Roasting times will vary a great deal, depending on how the bird was raised, even in a conventional oven. Convection ovens cook about 25 degrees lower and cook foods much faster than conventional ovens. Use a food thermometer and check the bird frequently starting about half to three quarters through the times shown above.)

Before you begin: Read all the steps below. Review the Cook's Guide and the Cooking Considerations For Poultry as well as the Principles of Cooking in Dry Heat in Chapter Nine.

Plan 15 to 30 minutes to prepare the bird, plus 30 minutes for a stuffing if one is used. Use the table on the next page to estimate the approximate cooking time. Add 15 to 30 minutes to allow the juices to set before carving.

Optional: Brine the bird (See brining.)

Optional: Prepare a stuffing.

Prepare the vessel

Use a pan with low sides to allow hot air to circulate all around the bird. For easier cleaning, line it with heavy aluminum foil.

Coat the inside of the pan (or foil) and the cooking rack with shortening to prevent the meat from sticking. Place the rack inside the pan.

Prepare the bird: See the Cook' Guide for thawing times and other basic preparations.

Dry the surface of the food thoroughly with paper towels and coat it lightly with cooking oil or shortening. Peanut oil is especially good. Butter or margarine might burn.

Optional: For garlic sweat whole garlic cloves in the oil before using it to coat the bird, or soak cloves in cooking oil and roast them along with the bird.

Sprinkle the inside lightly with white wine or broth.

Sprinkle lightly all over, inside and out, with salt (preferably coarse Kosher salt or sea salt) and other seasonings. (See brining.) Optional: Stuff whole birds with bread stuffing). Alternatively, place giblets and flavoring vegetables such as garlic, cloves, onions, celery, sweet bell pepper, parsley, pieces of lemonor other citrus fruit, or combinations of these, into the cavity to moisten and flavor the meat as it cooks. After the bird has cooked, you can chop the cooked vegetables and giblets and use them in the gravy if you like.

Secure the legs and wingtips or truss the bird.

Place the bird on the rack. A whole bird should be placed with the breast and legs on the bottom. (That way, the fat along the back can flow down to moisten and flavor the meat as it cooks.)

Prepare the heat:

Place the oven rack. so that the bird will be centered in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. for chicken and turkey, and 400 degrees F. for ducks, geese, game hens, and other small birds. (In a convection oven these temperatures should be reduced 25 degrees).

Cook: (Note: Do not start to roast poultry one day and finish it the next. It will become dry and may cause food poisoning.)

Place the rack. with the bird on it (breast side down)into the preheated oven. Make sure the thermometer does not touch any metal.

Use the Roasting Guide for Poultry, to judge the approximate cooking time, and set a timer accordingly.

One-half to three-quarters of the way through the approximate time, turn the bird over so that the breast and legs are on top. Turn the pan so that the end that was facing the rear now faces front. If the legs were bound, release the binding so that the heat can penetrate to the thigh joint.

Insert a meat thermometer into the center of the thigh muscle. Be sure the thermometer does not touch a bone. If the bird is still frozen, cook it long enough to thaw before inserting the thermometer.

If the surface appears dry, baste it with the pan drippings or extra cooking oil. Liquids other than these will wash away protective fat and allow the meat to dry. (Note: Duck or goose have enough fat that they probably will not require basting.) Remove excess liquid from the pan so that the meat does not steam.

Repeat the basting every 15 minutes if needed.

If the top becomes too brown, place a tent of aluminum foil lightly over it.

Test for doneness every fifteen minutes: (Note: It is best to remove the bird from the heat a little before it is done. It will continue to cook in its own heat as it sets To test with a thermometer: Use the Roasting Guide on p. 86. If the meat shrinks excessively, or if it splits down the breast or on the legs. it is probably overdone.

stuffing should be at least 165 degrees F. If the bird is done but the stuffing is not, remove the stuffing to a pan and finish cooking it as the bird sets.

If the leg is intact, it should move easily in its socket.

Prick the deepest part of the drumstick. If it is done, the juices should flow clear without any trace of pink.

Remove the bird to a warm platter. Cover it lightly with aluminum foil and leave it to set for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute themselves evenly.

Remove the stuffing as soon as possible and keep it in a separate container. The longer the stuffing remains in the bird, the greater the risk of salmonella poisoning.

Optional gravy: If there are any pan drippings, use those to make gravy.

Carve the bird. (See How to Carve a Roasted Bird.)

Serve on a hot platter. Optional: Accompany with pan-sauce or gravy.

How to Bake, Broil, Grill or Barbecue Poultry Arrow blue up       -       Arrow blue down How to Stuff a Bird for Roasting

-- CharlesDelmar - 2011-05-11

Topic revision: r12 - 2013-08-08 - MCCCharlesDelmar
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