Glazed Roast Chicken

I started cooking about five years ago when I convinced a good friend of mine to give me cooking lessons. I had just bought a house and remodeled the kitchen, and the food that was coming out of it was just not measuring up. So she came to my house every Tuesday for a few months and taught another friend of ours and me how to cook, one skill at a time. Depending on how many bottles of wine we drank during the night, the food ranged from moderately good to downright tasty.

The first night she came over we grilled: burgers with carmelized onions, and salad with pomegranate and vinaigrette that did not come out of a bottle. We thought this cooking thing would be a piece of cake.

And then in week two (week two!), she showed up with three whole chickens and plopped them down in front of each of us. I distinctly remember that chicken staring up at me, and thinking “Hmm. Perhaps I am in over my head.” I don’t think that either of us actually shrieked like little girls, but it was close.

But our Chef was young and wise, and she knew that being able to debone a chicken was one of those wonderfully useful, basic skills that can lead to delicious food and cheap grocery bills. And being able to roast a chicken is such a wonderful trick to have up your sleeve – it’s cheap, delicious, looks fancy, and poses more leftover possibilities than you can shake a stick at. Conquering that first chicken was really when I started thinking about food in a very different way.

Since then, I’ve made more roast chickens that I could count, and no doubt a few of my favorite roast chicken recipes will end up on this blog. But I’ve always been intrigued (and slightly freaked out) by the infamous beer butt chicken. I’d love to know who the person was who first thought it would be a great idea to sit a chicken on a can of beer and roast it? I have no idea. I guess I’m just not very clever. But after seeing iteration after iteration of this beer butt chicken, I finally came across a recipe that looked interesting and I took the bait: Glazed Roast Chicken.

Crispy, golden brown skin, and juicy flavorful meat is the holy grail of my roast chicken. This recipe one-ups that formula with a sweet, sticky, delicious glaze. If you’ve read much at all from this blog, you know about my love affair with Christopher Kimball and Cooks Illustrated. So when he said to make the chicken this way, I listened. The trick is cutting slits in the skin over the fatty areas, allowing the fat to drain and the skin to really crisp up. I wouldn’t say it’s a hard recipe, but I would say that it’s a cumbersome recipe. Handling a very hot chicken perched on a half-full beer can is a little precarious. But if you’re up to the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with a quite tasty dinner. Enjoy!

Glazed Roast Chicken

Click here to print this recipe.
From: Cooks Illustrated March & April 2009
Serves: 4 to 6
Time: approx. 3 hours, including rub

1 whole chicken (6 to 7 pounds), giblets removed and discarded
5 teaspoons kosher salt (or 2½ teaspoons table salt)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (16 ounce) can of beer

1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
½ cup maple syrup (or 2 tablespoons if using very sweet marmalade)
½ cup orange marmalade
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place the chicken breast-side down on the work surface. Using the tip of a very sharp knife, make 1-inch incisions along the spine, below each breast and thigh (four total). With your fingers or the handle of a wooden spoon, carefully separate the skin from the things and breast.

Using a metal skewer, poke 15 – 20 holes in the skin over the fat deposits on top of the breast and thighs. Tuck the wingtips underneath the chicken.

Combine the salt, baking powder and pepper in a small bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle evenly with the salt mixture. Rub in the mixture with your hands, coating the entire surface of the chicken evenly.

Set the chicken, breast side up on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, 30 – 60 minutes.

Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 325.

Open the beer can and drink half the beer. Spray the can lightly with non-stick cooking spray, and place in the middle of a roasting pan. Slide the chicken over the can so the drumsticks reach down to the bottom of the can, the chicken stands upright, and the breast is perpendicular to the bottom of the pan.

Roast the chicken until it starts to turn golden brown, and a thermometer registers 140 degrees in the thickest part of the breast (75 – 90 minutes). Very Carefully remove the chicken and pan from the oven and increase the temperature to 500 degrees.

Prepare the Glaze: While the chicken cooks, stir the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl until no lumps remain; set aside.

Bring remaining glaze ingredients to a simmer in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until reduced to ¾ cup – 6 to 8 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a simmer and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.

When the oven has reached 500 degrees, place 1½ cups water in the bottom of the roasting pan and very carefully return the pan and chicken to the oven.

Roast until entire chicken skin is browned and crisp, and a thermometer registers 160 degrees in the thickest part of the breast, and 175 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh (about 25 – 30 minutes).

Check the chicken half way through roasting – if the top is becoming too dark, cover the neck and wingtips with a square of aluminum foil. If pan begins to smoke and sizzle, add an additional ½ cup water.

Brush the chicken with ¼ cup of the glaze and continue to roast until browned and sticky, about 5 minutes. (Reheat the glaze if it is too thick to spread when cool.)

Very carefully remove the chicken from the oven, and transfer the chicken (still on the can) to a cutting board. Brush with another ¼ cup glaze. Let rest 20 minutes.

While the chicken rests, strain the juices from the pan through a fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator, and allow the liquid to settle for 5 minutes. Whisk ½ cup of the juices into the remaining ¼ cup glaze in a sauce pan set over low heat.

Using a kitchen towel or tongs, carefully lift the chicken off the can and place on the cutting board. Carve the chicken, adding any juices to the sauce. Serve, passing the sauce separately.

Notes: The cuts made in the skin in step one allow some the fat to drain out of the chicken, resulting in a crispy skin.

Moving the chicken on the beer can is tricky. It’s helpful to have an extra set of hands available to steady the chicken and beer can – particularly when moving the chicken off the can.

Make sure the temperature of your oven is accurate. If it’s not hot enough, the skin won’t crisp.

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Comments: 2

  1. Dorothy November 22, 2009 at 10:01 am Reply

    Sounds like a good recipe. However, I wish you had said to wash the can first. then pour half the beer into a glass before drnking. We need to be ever mindful of sanitation when cooking, and I’m not so sure the oven heat would kill everything that that beer can may have picked up.

    • seattlepalate November 23, 2009 at 7:18 pm Reply

      Thanks Dorothy, you’re absolutely right! I often assume keeping things clean in the kitchen is a given, but it’s always better to spell it out!

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