Monday, February 13, 2012

Herb Roast Chicken - Step-by-Step Photo Instructions to Truss a Chicken

Roast chicken is one of my all-time favorite dishes. Sunday dinners at my grandmother's tiny apartment often centered around a golden roasted chicken with crispy skin. When my husband wants to show me he loves me he'll say, "honey, want me to make a roast chicken?"

Whether you serve it with a simple green salad and rolls or a variety of complex side dishes, roast chicken is a classic comfort food and perennial favorite of multiple generations. Making a fabulous roast chicken has less to do with the flavorings and more to do with the method of production. Knowing how to truss the chicken and sear the skin to a crispy finish will make your Sunday dinners as memorable as Grammie's were.

Trussing the chicken is an integral part of a well-roasted bird because it helps to ensure even cooking, it inhibits the wing tips from getting scorched, it allows the bird to maintain its shape during cooking for a lovely presentation, and it aids in keeping any flavorings (lemons, garlic, etc) inside the cavity during cooking.

When selecting your chicken at the market opt for the best bird you can afford. You will notice a change in flavor between factory-raised poultry, organic, free-range, etc. birds. I can't really afford the creme de la creme of chickens but I do always opt for a chicken that has been raised without antibiotics because that is important to me.

Herb Roast Chicken ~ serves 4-6
1 roasting chicken
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon each fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary
salt & pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 carrot
1 rib celery
1 leek

Preheat oven to 450º F.

Trim excess fat and skin from around the cavity of the chicken. Remove giblets and neck. Dry the outside of the skin with paper towels but do not wash. Washing the chicken just spreads potential bacteria around your sink and isn't necessary.

Wash the vegetables and use them to create a rack for the chicken. If you having a roasting rack you can still use the vegetables to add flavor to the roast. I also add the chicken neck to roast to add flavor to the gravy.

Combine the butter and herbs. Spread mixture under and over skin of the chicken. Season with salt and pepper inside the cavity and over the skin. You're now ready to truss the chicken. Begin by cutting a piece of kitchen twine longer than you think you'll need. Always better to have too much twine rather than too little. Now tuck the wing tips in. Bend them back and under the "armpits."

Wrap twine around the back of the chicken.

Cross the twine across the front of the bird...

Pull the legs outward and together. Wrap the twine around the base of the legs and tie together tightly.

Place chicken breast side down on the rack and roast 20 minutes. Flip bird over (breast side up) and roast 20 more minutes. Lower heat to 350º F and continue roasting until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165º F on a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast (roast approximately 20 minutes per pound). Let the bird rest on a carving board while you make your gravy.

Remove rack and drain any collected pan drippings into a gravy separator. I like to keep the veggies and neck in the pan while I deglaze. Set your roasting pan on top of the stove over medium heat. Pour about one cup of chicken stock into pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the tasty brown bits. Add remaining stock plus reserved pan juices (minus separated fat) and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove and discard vegetables and neck. If you want to serve the roast au jus, simply season the stock to taste and serve. For a thicker gravy you can add a beurre manie, a little at a time, stirring and simmering until the flour taste is cooked out and sauce has achieved desired thickness. Season and serve.



  1. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions - this is really needed for a novice like me!Can I follow the same instructions for a Cornish hen?I have one lying in my refrigerator right now and I can try making a roast of it right away,now that I have the method with me.

    1. Yes, you can truss the same, but sear and roast for less time due to the small size of a Cornish hen. I'd say roast at 450 for 12 minutes each side then reduce heat to 350 and continue roasting about 25 minutes before checking internal temp with a meat thermometer.

  2. I swear I'm like one of Pavlovs dogs except with me it's show me a roast chicken and I start salivating. This looks fantastic!!

  3. I love LOVE roast chicken. It's so easy (even though it does cook for a while) and it's so cheap, I don't know why everyone doesn't roast a chicken at least once a month. Plus, the leftovers make the best broth :)

  4. Roasted chicken is one of my all-time favorites! When I was a young bride this was - to me - the ultimate elegant meal, so it was the first thing I taught myself to cook....and it's still a beloved classic! Thanks for reminding me!

  5. Very instructive to the non-roasting-specialists like me :) Thank you so much for sharing - I do love roasted, crispy chicken.

  6. I'm bookmarking this chicken...since I am an awful trusser :) I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's day!

  7. For all the chickens I've cooked, I've never really mastered the art of the truss. Great information. I am saving this post.

  8. Hi!

    I LOVE roasted chicken, it brings me back to my child memories. my mum would make it every now and then on sundays with herbed rice and mushroom. Its soooo good! especialy when the chicken skin is nice oily herbed crispy... purely heaven on earth!

    thanks for sharing! =)

  9. Great clear instructions, and I love the pictures! This recipe sounds very simple and delicious, will definitely try this soon!

  10. THANK-you..thank-you, and thank-you!! I always find myself in a wrestling match with the string and sometimes even the chicken..I always lose haha!!
    This so helps me! :)

  11. This is timely for me since roasted chicken is tonight's dinner. We just got these cooking rubbers which we are going to try out instead of twine.

  12. Beautiful chicken! We, too, had roast chicken tonight :)


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