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.
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.)
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