From America's Test Kitchen Season 12: Simply Chicken
Roast chicken is often described as a simple dish, and it is, at least in terms of flavor—when done properly, the rich flavor and juicy meat of the chicken need little adornment. But the actual process of preparing and roasting chicken is anything but simple: Recipes often call for complicated trussing techniques and rotating the bird multiple times during the course of cooking. The most time-consuming part is salting or brining the bird, a step that ensures juiciness and well-seasoned meat. We wanted to find a way to skip this step—without sacrificing flavor—and get roast chicken on the table in just an hour. After systematically testing the various components and steps of a typical recipe, we discovered we could ditch both the V-rack and flipping the chicken by using a preheated skillet; preheating the pan and placing the chicken breast side up gave the thighs a jump start on cooking. Starting the chicken in a 450-degree oven and then turning the oven off while the chicken finished cooking slowed the evaporation of juices, ensuring moist, tender meat.
We prefer to use a 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken for this recipe. If roasting a larger bird, increase the time when the oven is on in step 2 to 35 to 40 minutes. Cooking the chicken in a preheated skillet will ensure that the breast and thigh meat finish cooking at the same time.