I have stumbled upon a chicken secret that I have found to be quite magnificent. Did you know that cooking a roast chicken upside-down creates the most succulent breast meat ever? Better yet, this recipe cooks a whole chicken in a fraction of the time too!
The chef at Chez L’Ami Louis, which is known for having the best roasted chicken in all of Paris shared his secrets in the kitchen on an episode of I’ll have what Phil’s having” on PBS. Roasted chicken is a sacred national dish in France, so you know their chicken has to be incredible!
The secret to the most succulent chicken
The chef at Chez L’Ami Louis in Paris shared his techniques
- First, he started out with a really hot oven.
- Then he seasoned the chicken.
- Next he put the chicken in a cast iron pan, which is oven-safe and can handle high heat.
- Then he basted the chicken with duck fat and goose fat (don’t worry, you don’t have to use that).
- Lastly, he baked the chicken breast-side-down the entire time on a higher temperature which caused the chicken to bake much faster.
Here’s why the recipe works
- Cooking the chicken upside down protects the breast from drying out because the fattier dark meat is basting the breast the entire time and it’s not exposed to direct oven heat. The result is the most succulent breast meat ever.
- Believe it or not, it’s actually quite difficult to dry out dark meat, so it can be cooked at higher temperatures and still be moist and tender.
- Although the skin of the breast meat doesn’t brown as much, the skin on the back gets nice and crispy, so you can still enjoy lots of crispy skin.
- We are roasting it at a higher temperature which cooks the chicken much faster
- Duck fat is my favorite fat to use (and I don’t even like the flavor of duck meat). Duck fat tastes amazing with roasted chicken and vegetables, and makes the most unbelievable roasted potatoes you’ve ever had too!
- Other types of fat–Chicken fat, bacon fat, butter, or olive oil would also be a great substitute because the cooking technique itself is what really matters (see photo above).
- A whole chicken (make sure to remove any organs in the cavity).
- Carrots and onions under the roast chicken help the flavor of the chicken, plus they get basted in the chicken juices which makes them taste amazing.
- Fresh rosemary or thyme for more flavor (you can omit if you don’t have herbs).
Easy step-by-step instructions
- Chop whole carrots into 2 to 3-inch pieces. We want to keep the carrots bigger so they don’t soften too quickly.
- Cut a large onion in half and cut each half into quarters.
- Finely chop fresh rosemary. Reserve 1-2 whole sprigs for the pan. You can also substitute fresh thyme for rosemary if you’d like.
- Lay the onions, carrots, and 2-3 sprigs of rosemary in a circle in the pan. Make sure you are using an oven-safe large saute pan, cast iron skillet, ceramic pan, or roasting pan that can handle high heat. The vegetables will prop up the chicken during cooking and will be basted and flavored by the chicken…yum!
Step 5) Below is what the chicken looks like breast-side-up and breast-side-down after it’s been seasoned with salt and pepper and rubbed with butter and bacon fat. Rub the chicken with whatever type of fat you prefer.
Next is a photo of what it looks like out of the oven, breast-side-down again. You can see that you get plenty of crispy skin on the bottom!
Take the chicken out of the oven when a thermometer inserted in the chicken breast reads 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit because as the meat rests, the temperature raises which will help finish cooking the breast meat through.
You’ll need to remove the pan from the oven and flip the chicken over breast-side-up in order to get an accurate temperature.
Finishing the roast chicken, two options:
If you don’t mind your breast meat being white/blonde, you can bake the chicken upside down the entire time until it reaches 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll be able to get lots of crispy skin from the back of the chicken.
If you prefer to have a little color on the breast meat, you’ll need to flip the chicken breast-side-up and finish baking for about 10 minutes under the broiler (with the broiler turned on) until the breast meat reaches 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit. Please see the recipe card for these two options.
When the breast meat reaches 160-165 degrees, remove it from the oven. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving to allow the meat to finish cooking and for the juices to redistribute inside the chicken.
If you broil the chicken breast-side-up at the end, it will look like the photo below.
How to carve a roast chicken
Before you carve that meat, let it rest for 10-15 minutes! I can’t stress this point enough. Once it’s rested, place the chicken on a large cutting board breast-side-up.
- Remove the crispy skin on the back of the chicken and hide all of it for yourself while carving, ha!
- Slice straight down right next to the breast bone.
- Take the knife at the bottom of the breast meat and slice inward horizontally towards the bone.
- Remove the breast from the bone and repeat on the other side.
- Slice the two breast cuts into thick slices
- Remove the thighs and wings
Serving the dish
Spoon some of the pan drippings over the chicken and vegetables for extra succulent flavor.
The roasted vegetables have basted under the chicken while cooking and are so incredibly good!
Helpful recipe tips:
- You’ll need to allow for your chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes to allow for the juices in the chicken to reabsorb inside the meat so that the meat remains moist. The resting time rule applies to all types of meat.
- You’d be surprised at how much meat you can get off of the bone. You’ll want to use your hands to remove the meat. If you have enough leftover meat you can use it to in this easy soup recipe.
- Don’t throw away the chicken bones! You can freeze the bones in a container for up to one month and make delicious homemade chicken broth or rich chicken bone broth.
- If you want to make homemade broth, save the carrot and onions skins because you can add those into your stock. You can freeze the vegetable scraps for one month to save for when you are ready to use them for soup or broth.
- Antique stores will often sell cast iron skillets and heavy-duty cooking vessels that were built to last generations.
How long do I cook the chicken?
This depends on how many pounds your chicken is. Because you are cooking this chicken at 450 degrees, it will bake much faster than other roast chicken recipes. Check the temperature of the breast meat when the skin on the back begins to caramelize. This is a good indicator that the chicken is almost done.
Make Easy Lemon Chicken Soup with the leftover meat
Save the bones and make Instant Pot Chicken Bone Broth
or Homemade Chicken Stock (requires less bones)
Serve Poblano Cheddar Cornbread on the side
Bon Appetit Ya’ll,
Upside Down Roasted Chicken Recipe
- Le Creuset ceramic skillet
- 1 Whole Chicken (weight varies but I used a 6 pound chicken and it fit in my 9.5 inch wide cast iron skillet)
- 2 Tbsp Duck fat chicken fat, bacon fat, butter, or olive oil can be substituted
- salt and pepper
- half of one lemon
- 3-4 whole carrots skinned and cut into large pieces
- 1 onion quartered and skins removed
- A few sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place a rack in the middle position.
- Rinse the chicken and check the cavity for the neck and gizzards. You may keep them in the cavity (be sure to remove any packaging) for added flavor to the bird or you can freeze them and use to make gravy.
- Dry the chicken with paper towels really well.
- Place a half of one lemon and a few thyme rosemary sprigs in the cavity and season the entire bird with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme. Rub the bird with duck fat, chicken fat, bacon fat, olive oil, or butter.
- Add carrots, onions, and rosemary or thyme to the rim of the bottom of the pan. Place the bird upside down (breast-side-down) in the cast iron skillet or heavy duty oven-safe ceramic pan.
Finishing the roast chicken, two options:
- Because you are roasting the chicken at a higher temperature, it's going to bake faster than other roast chicken recipes. Check the temperature of the breast meat when the skin on the back of the chicken starts to caramelize. This is a good indicator the chicken is almost done.
- Option 1:If you don't mind your breast meat being white/blonde, you can bake the chicken upside down the entire time until it reaches 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll be able to get lots of crispy skin from the back of the chicken.If you prefer option one you don't need to remove the vegetables from the pan at the end of the cooking time in the oven.
- Option 2:If you prefer to have a little color on the breast meat, you'll need to flip the chicken breast-side-up and finish baking for about 7-10 minutes under the broiler (with the broiler turned on) until the breast meat reaches 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the vegetables and the pan juices to a plate before finishing cooking the chicken. This will keep the skin crisp in the pan. You'll want to flip the chicken over once it reaches 145-150 degrees Fahrenheit to give the breast meat enough time to caramelize under the broiler. Do not walk away from the oven at this point! Stand by to make sure the skin doesn't burn.
- Remove the chicken from the skillet and let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes before carving.
- Because you are cooking this chicken at 450 degrees, it will bake much faster than other roast chicken recipes. Check the temperature of the breast meat when the skin on the back begins to caramelize. When the breast meat reaches 160-165 degrees, remove it from the oven.
- If you want to caramelize the skin on the breast meat, flip the chicken over and remove the vegetables and pan juices once it reaches 145-150 degrees Fahrenheit. Then follow instructions for finishing it breast-side-up.
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