Q: I’m having trouble roasting chicken. Either I overcook the breast meat, or the thigh joints stay bloody. Should I use high heat or low heat? And what about the roasting pan — should I use a rack?
A: Here are a few things to consider:
First, I start chickens in a hot oven, around 425 degrees, for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees. That blast of heat crisps the skin and starts the cooking, while the lower heat keeps the chicken from drying out while it finishes cooking.
Instead of a roasting pan and rack, try a smaller cooking vessel, such as a heavy glass pie plate. In a big pan, the juices spread out and evaporate. A smaller container cups the chicken, keeping the juices inside, where they help the chicken cook and keep it from drying out.
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Notice how you’re placing the chicken in the oven. The back of the oven usually is hotter than the front. So put the chicken in with the dark-meat areas — the legs and thighs — pointing toward the back so they get hotter.
Finally, don’t forget the standing time. Use an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh to make sure the chicken has reached 165 degrees. Then remove the chicken from the oven and let it stand 10 or 15 minutes before you carve it. The temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees, and the juices will settle back down into the meat rather than running out onto the platter.