I’m not entirely sure if “roast” should really go before “plump” or whether it’s the other way around. But, anyway… I find it depressing when roast chicken comes out of the oven with its skin looking wrinkled. It just makes the chicken look scrawny even if it isn’t. I wondered if I could use the Chinese roast duck technique and blow hard between the chicken skin and meat but decided I might bust my lungs in the attempt. Besides, did I really want my lips to touch raw chicken meat and skin? Not exactly an exciting prospect.
So, I took another path. I made a marinade (jam, honey, soy sauce, chili sauce, salt, pepper, grated garlic, grated ginger…) in a mixing bowl, put in the chicken and gave it a nice marinade bath. I even spooned marinade inside the cavity. I covered the bowl tightly with cling film, put it in the fridge, turned the chicken over every few hours… The next day, as I was about to drain the chicken to transfer it on a rack inside a baking tray, I stared at the chicken cradled snugly in the bowl and it seemed to be swimming comfortably in the marinade. What if I don’t remove the chicken from the marinade? What if I put the bowl, marinade still in it, into the oven and let the chicken braise in the marinade?
What’s the saying…?? An untried idea will always remain an idea. So I tried to find out. With the chicken resting breast side up, I put the bowl in the oven at 325F. After 45 minutes, I flipped the chicken over. After another 45 minutes, I turned up the temperature to 375F to brown the chicken so it wouldn’t look anemic.
The result was fantastic. Plump chicken. No wrinkled skin. The bird soaked up the marinade and, by the time it was cooked, what remained at the bottom of the bowl were a couple of tablespoonfuls of marinade and a lot of chicken fat. I let the bird cool for a bit then I transferred it to a plate, letting as much of the fat drip off. I covered the bird loosely with foil for some fifteen minutes and then it was time to cut the bird.
The chicken meat was moist and tender (yes, including the darn breast which can turn dry so fast) while the skin was nicely browned.