Most glazed roast chicken recipes offer some variation on these instructions: Roast a chicken as you would normally, painting on a sweet glaze 15 to 30 minutes before the bird is done.
It sounds simple, but following these recipes actually turns up a host of troubles, as the problems inherent in roasting chicken (dry breast meat, flabby skin, big deposits of fat under the skin) are compounded by the problems of a glaze (won’t stick to the meat, burns in patches, introduces moisture to already flabby skin).
Yet we know that great glazed chicken is possible. We set out to develop a method for evenly glazed roast chicken with crisp skin and moist, tender meat.
Short of installing meat hooks or a rotisserie in the oven, what could we do? A vertical roaster, which cooks chicken standing up, was possible, but did who wants another gadget in the kitchen? Then we remembered a simpler alternative, found right in the fridge: a beer can.
We’ve had great success placing a beer can in the chicken cavity and standing it upright on the grill, which allows heat to circulate freely so that the bird cooks evenly from all sides. Why not bring this popular technique from the barbecue circuit into your oven?
GLAZED ROAST CHICKEN
Start to finish: 2 1/2 hours
For best results, use a 16-ounce can of beer. Don’t use a 12-ounce can, as it will not support the chicken’s weight. Make sure it is made from safe, fire-proof materials, too, and avoid shrink-wrapped plastic labels.
A vertical poultry roaster can be used in place of the beer can, but we recommend using only a model that can be placed in a roasting pan. Taste your marmalade before using it; if it is overly sweet, reduce the amount of maple syrup by 2 tablespoons.
Chicken:1 (6- to 7-pound) whole chicken, giblets discarded
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 (16-ounce) can beer
Glaze:1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon pepper
For the chicken: Place chicken, breast side down, on cutting board. Using tip of sharp knife, make four 1-inch incisions along back of chicken. Using your fingers, gently loosen skin covering breast and thighs. Using metal skewer, poke 15 to 20 holes in fat deposits on top of breast and thighs. Tuck wings behind back.
Combine salt, pepper, and baking powder in bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt mixture evenly all over chicken. Rub mixture in with your hands, coating entire surface evenly. Transfer chicken, breast side up, to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 F.
Open beer can and pour out (or drink) about half of liquid. Place can in middle of roasting pan and spray lightly with vegetable oil spray. Slide chicken over can so drumsticks reach down to bottom of can, chicken stands upright, and breast is perpendicular to bottom of pan. Roast chicken until skin starts to turn golden and breast registers 140 F, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Carefully remove pan from oven and increase oven temperature to 500 F.
For the glaze: While chicken cooks, stir cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water in bowl until no lumps remain. Bring maple syrup, marmalade, vinegar, butter, mustard, and pepper to simmer in medium saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 3/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Slowly whisk in cornstarch mixture; return to simmer and cook for 1 minute. Remove saucepan from heat.
When oven temperature reaches 500 F, pour 1 1/2 cups water into roasting pan and return pan to oven. Roast until chicken skin is evenly browned and crispy, breast registers 160 F, and thighs register 175 F, 24 to 30 minutes. (Check chicken halfway through roasting; if top is becoming too dark, place 7-inch square piece of aluminum foil over neck and wingtips of chicken and continue to roast. If pan begins to smoke and sizzle, add additional 1/2 cup water to pan.)
Brush chicken with 1/4 cup glaze and continue to roast until browned and sticky, about 5 minutes longer. (If glaze starts to stiffen, return to low heat to soften.) Carefully remove pan from oven; transfer chicken, still on can, to carving board; and brush with 1/4 cup glaze. Let chicken rest for 20 minutes.
While chicken rests, strain juices from pan through fine-mesh strainer into fat -separator; let liquid settle for 5 minutes. Whisk 1/2 cup defatted juices into remaining 1/4 cup glaze in saucepan and set over low heat. Using 2 large wads of paper towels, carefully transfer chicken from can to carving board. Carve chicken, adding any accumulated juices to sauce. Serve, passing sauce separately.