Should you truss a roast chicken or not?
This question has been weighing on my mind for a while now because I have heard arguments for both.
The hilarious part is that people say the chicken cooks unevenly if you don’t truss it, yet people say the exact same thing about if you DO truss your chicken. Well my friends, it can’t be both. It just can’t. Reading the same arguments for both options made me bonkers so I decided to test it out on my own, and today I would like to share the results with you.
I went to the store and bought two chickens, of the same brand, and of the exact same weight (they were each 4lb chickens).
I cooked them the same way I cook all of my roast chickens. My roasting vegetables of choice are always leeks, carrots, and parsnips.
I trussed one of the chickens by taking kitchen twine and plumping up the breast, then coming around with the string to lasso the legs and I tied them together:
Then I laid the trussed and untrussed chickens side by side on a bed of vegetables in order to ensure that the chickens would roast in an oven with the exact same temperature conditions.
The skins both turned out more or less the same. Brown and delicious!
But then came the tasting of the meat. My husband and I tasted and compared all the parts of the chicken…the breast, the thigh, the drumstick, the wings…and here’s what we found:
- The trussed chicken’s breast meat was perfectly moist and juicy, while the untrussed chicken’s breast meat was significantly drier.
- The dark meat on the trussed chicken and the dark meat on the untrussed chicken were pretty comparable. They both retained their juiciness and it was hard to notice any differences between the two.
Here’s the fascinating part: When I was checking the chickens for doneness by measuring the thickest part of the thigh, the trussed chicken and untrussed chicken registered at nearly the same temperature, 162 degrees F for the trussed chicken, and 164 for the untrussed. What does this mean? It means we can’t blame the dry breast meat of the untrussed chicken on being from an overcooked bird, because both chickens were cooked to the proper temperature for the thickest part of the thigh. What really happened is by the time the dark meat was done on the untrussed chicken, the breast meat was already long overcooked.
Conclusion: Trussing your chicken not only looks better but yields a more evenly cooked, moister bird. When you don’t truss your chicken, the breast cavity remains wide open and too much hot air circulates inside of it, drying out the breast before the thighs and legs are properly cooked. So always truss those chickens in order to protect the breast and make the chicken a more even mass for roasting.
So tell me, do you usually truss your chicken or not? If you have any comments please leave them below. And here’s my roast chicken recipe:
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- 4lb chicken
- 1 lb parsnips, chopped
- 1 lb carrots, chopped
- 1 large leek, sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- lots of salt and pepper
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- Preheat the oven to 475. We're starting the oven out really hot to brown the skin of the chicken well.
- Toss the chopped parsnips, carrots, and sliced leek with 2 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Dump the vegetables in a roasting pan or cast iron pan.
- Rub the inside of the breast cavity with lots of salt and pepper, and rub the outside of the chicken all over with salt and pepper as well. Stuff the cavity with the aromatic rosemary, thyme, and garlic cloves, then truss the chicken (and don't forget to tuck the wing tips under themselves so they don't burn). Place the chicken on top of the bed of vegetables and roast in the 475 degree oven for 15 minutes, then lower the oven to 400 and roast for another 40-50 minutes. You want to cook the chicken until it registers at 160 in the thickest part of the thigh. Let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes (you can tent the chicken with aluminum foil to keep it warm), then you're ready to eat!
Roasting method adapted from Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken recipe from his cookbook Ad Hoc at Home.