Roasting a whole chicken is one of the best ways we know to produce a supremely satisfying, low-effort entree. The oven does a terrific job of browning the bird and, with a little know-how, can also help produce deep puddles of umami-packed pan drippings.
Use Your Paring Knife for an Ultra-Chickeny Pan Sauce
That’s important because those drippings—which are more intensely chicken‑y than any broth you can buy—can bring savory depth to a pan sauce or a side dish to round out the meal.
The good news is that ensuring that the jus is abundant and full-flavored requires only a few strokes of a paring knife: Just make small incisions in the skin above and below each thigh.
These openings allow juices exuded by the bird during roasting to drip into the pan, where they brown and develop concentrated poultry flavor. Without these slashes, the juices would collect beneath the skin and be lost to the carving board.
Here's how to do it:
1. Lift 1 drumstick and use paring knife to cut ½-inch slit in skin where drumstick and thigh meet.
2. Turn chicken on side so breast faces edge of counter. Cut ½-inch slit in skin where top of thigh meets breast. Repeat both cuts on opposite side of chicken.
(Note that If your bird has been brined or salted, you may wish to dilute the pan juices with a little water before incorporating them into a sauce or side dish.)
Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter
The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.
Start Free Trial
10,000+ foolproof recipes and why they work Taste Tests of supermarket ingredients Equipment Reviews save you money and time Videos including full episodes and clips Live Q&A with Test Kitchen experts
Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!
Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.
Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!
John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.