Roasting chicken can be time consuming, and getting it to cook evenly is an even bigger challenge. Convection ovens, which feature interior fans, circulate hot air better than standard ovens do, so they can make cooking a whole chicken a lot faster and more effective.
Convection Oven Characteristics
A convection oven is like a standard oven, only it has a fan near the heating element that distributes hot air evenly throughout the interior. Thanks to this feature, convection ovens don’t suffer from “cool spots”—areas of slightly lower temperature—as standard ovens do. Also, the temperature in convection ovens doesn’t drop significantly when the door is opened.
Benefits of Roasting Chicken in a Convection Oven
Whole chickens, especially larger ones, can take several hours to cook. In general, convection ovens reduce cooking times by as much as 20 to 30 percent. Because of the constantly circulating hot air, convection ovens give chicken crisp, evenly browned skin, much like with a rotisserie. Convection ovens can cook marinated, dry-rubbed, or plain whole chickens, with or without vegetables in the same pan.
Seasoning Whole Chickens
For a basic convection-roasted chicken, similar to a bistro-style chicken, rub the whole bird with a generous amount of sea salt, cracked black pepper, and either duck fat, olive oil, or softened butter, inside and out, as well as underneath the breast skin. For something more advanced, add fresh or dried spices like rosemary, oregano, paprika, and garlic powder. Let the chicken rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to let the seasonings penetrate and adhere to the meat.
Roasting and Doneness
Preheat the convection oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Roast an unstuffed chicken for 10 minutes per pound. Begin testing for doneness after the first 30 minutes, and then every 5 minutes, to ensure that the chicken doesn’t overcook.
When fully cooked, the leg of the chicken will be loose when wiggled, and juices will run clear. The meat will turn opaque and white, although it may still be slightly pink near the bone. The most accurate test of doneness is using a quick-read thermometer to test the internal temperature. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, near the breast, and do not let the tip of the thermometer touch bone. The chicken is ready when the internal temperature reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the pan from the oven and tent the chicken loosely with foil. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. The juices will redistribute through the meat, continuing to cook it as it rests.