We do a lot of whole chickens in my house. Cook up an entire chicken (or turkey), have dinner, have sandwiches, have chicken salad, and make chicken stock from the carcass. All that from one chicken!
We’ve all had dry boring chickens. Gravy boat was invented for a reason.
But your chicken can be insanely moist and flavorful! The secret? Lots of butter, and salt. I’m not talking Paula Deen quantities of butter, and don’t get scared away by using some salt. it’s kitchen chemistry magic!
I am a huge fan of compound butter. It’s basically softened butter that is mashed up with a bunch of other flavorings like herbs, garlic, spices, and such. Every time I make a whole bird, I make a compound butter with a half stick of butter, some dried thyme, fresh or dried parsley, minced craisins, and sometimes I will chop up some pistachios if I want to be extra fancy. Use the herbs and dried fruit that you like. It’s the butter that’s important. That means don’t use margarine or any of that not-butter stuff. if you want the benefits of butter, you gotta use the real stuff.
To prep your bird for roasting, rinse it off in the sink, and then pat dry with paper towels. put 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in the cavity. Other yummy aromatics to put in the cavity – chopped onion, parsley, celery, I’ve even done orange chunks. Arrange your bird in a roasting pan, and prepare to get messy.
Loosen the skin all over the breast, thighs, and legs, and smear the butter mixture under the skin, getting into all the nooks and crannies. Smear butter over the entire outside of the chicken as well, including the legs and wings.
Many cookbooks call for different roasting temps and times, and everyone’s oven and roasting pan is different. You do you, but with a butter covered chicken you’ll get browned skin and moist meat.
here’s why this works, or at least why I think it works. The butter creates a water resistant cloak around the chicken, and the salt helps draw moisture out from the inside out. All that moisture has no where to go because the butter locks it in, so it stays in the meat. The flavors in your compound butter help season the meat while it cooks.
This method has always worked for me, so I hope it works for you too!