Wishbone Roast Chicken with Herb Butter

By • February 22, 2010 • 87 Comments



Author Notes: As I was slicing into this chicken, I suddenly remembered this story: one day my daughter excitedly said to her preschool teacher “Guess what? Chickens have a game inside them and it’s called a wishbone! Wishbones are good because you can make wishes on them.” The teacher said “I’ve played the wishbone game before with my mom. Did you cook the wishbone first?” My daughter replied “Yeah, we had to cook the wishbone and then the game is better … way better!”

To cook those wishbone chickens, I use the tube insert of my tube pan, which settles neatly inside my 9 inch cake pan. Cooking it standing up means I don’t have to turn the bird this way and that during the roasting to get a nice crispy skin. The chicken itself is inspired by a restaurant in Carmel (now replaced by a chain restaurant) that served a succulent rotisserie chicken with a flavorful herb butter. Does a perfectly roasted bird need such an embellishment? Some may argue not, but all I can say is that I have never forgotten that dish and often long for that butter while eating other perfectly fine roasted chickens. - monkeymom
monkeymom

Food52 Review: This recipe with its unassuming 5 ingredients caught our eye for its use of simple techniques to achieve a flavorful bird with crisp skin. Monkeymom has thought a lot about roasting chicken: she has you tuck shallots and butter under the skin, season the bird and then let it rest in the fridge, uncovered, for 8 hours. The butter keeps the meat moist and the air-drying in the fridge ensures a crackly skin. She also came up with an ingenious way to replicate the verticle roasting in "beer can chicken," in which the chicken sits on top of a beer can while it grills. For her brilliant adaptation, she sets the chicken on the tube part of a tube pan. The verticle positioning allows the fat to drip off the bird while it cooks, and we think it does a great job of helping to cook the bird evenly, as every part is equally exposed to the oven heat. And did we mention that the finished bird is then served with an herb butter? Herb butter gets us every time. A&M

Serves 4-6

Wishbone Chicken

  • 3-4 pounds chicken
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • salt and pepper

Herb Butter

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced chives
  • (you can vary the herbs to what you prefer. Chervil, thyme, lemon zest, cayenne, etc. One bird, many options for flavoring)
  1. Wash and dry chicken. Using your hand, spread softened butter under skin on breasts, especially the part near the neck. Put shallots under skin all around. Sprinkle pepper, then salt the bird very generously all over. The key to a crispy skin is a dry bird, plenty of salt, and a hot oven. Place in refrigerator, uncovered, for 8 hours to overnight.
  2. For herb butter, soften the butter and add the other ingredients. Mash with fork to mix thoroughly, then scrape into saran wrap. Wrap up the butter to form a tube and chill in refrigerator.
  3. To roast chicken, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use only one rack, placed in the bottom slot of your oven.
  4. Place chicken feet side down on tube insert that is placed into a 9 in cake pan. This forms a stable base that will catch the drippings without leaking out. Tuck wing tips behind the neck and pull the legs out to separate them from the breast. This helps them cook a little faster so the breast won’t dry out. If the skin has torn or is short, you can use a toothpick and pin it to the bottom end of the breast. Place the bird into oven and roast for 55 minutes (my chicken was a little under 4 lbs and was cooked perfectly at this time.)
  5. Remove nicely browned chicken from oven. Let rest on tube while preparing the rest of your dinner.
  6. Slice legs from bird, then carve breasts from bones. Be careful not to cut the wishbone, which is near the neck cavity on the front top of the breast! I’ve disappointed my kids many times by accidently breaking the wishbone prematurely. Pick off the goodies from the rest of the bird and share them with your favorite helper(s).
  7. Slice the herb butter and serve with the carved chicken. A little dab of butter on the chicken goes a long way.
  8. Play wishbone game.

Tags: comfort food, Entrees, family, Five Ingredients or Fewer, Holidays, kid-friendly, leftovers

Comments (87) Questions (3)

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9 months ago dymnyno

I have a tube cake pan and the tub part is removable. I usually remove the tube part and put it on a rimmed sheet pan.(one less piece to wash) Someone also gave me a tube that is for roasting chicken and guess what...it is exactly the same size and interchangeable with the one from the cake pan!

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9 months ago Geni

Oh for heavens sake! Never mind....with some help from my totally non-cooking husband, I get the picture! It IS pushed down onto the tube, it's the shoulders I see on top; I thought it was breast!

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9 months ago Geni

HELP! Just discovered this recipe and hope to fix it for company tonight! Don't understand how to put the chicken (mine is 7lb)on the tube pan. Photo looks like its "lying" on the tube, breast up....can't be! Or the tube be inserted into the chicken as in beer can chicken. Thanks for any help!!

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10 months ago lauren castro

I'm about to try this out for the first time, very excited! I'm wondering if the air drying in the fridge overnight would be better done on the tube. Same concept as in the oven really, more air circulating equals a drier raw bird and a crispier finished product.

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about 1 year ago Tamara Hudes Agarwal

This was so good! Leaving the chicken in the fridge really did make the skin nice and crispy!

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about 1 year ago gotham gourmand

The herb butter really elevates the already moist, flavorful chicken. Delicious!

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over 1 year ago marydtoombs

I'm not sure where this idea came from, but when I make herb butter, I always add a generous squeeze of a fresh lemon or lime. Somehow it takes that butter over the top in flavor. This chicken-on-a-tube-pan sounds SO delish. Can't wait to make it.

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almost 2 years ago AnnieHynes

what is a tube pan?

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over 1 year ago marydtoombs

http://askville.amazon...
(don't use the fluted kind, it's really a bundt cake pan) Some tube pans have a removable tube part, some do not. It's for easy removal of the cake (usually angel food cake).

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almost 2 years ago AnnieHynes

what is a tube pan?

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almost 2 years ago AnnieHynes

what is a tube pan?

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almost 2 years ago AnnieHynes

what is a tube pan?

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over 2 years ago pimimond

I forgot the shallots but it didn't matter. I took the tip to use just the tube pan insert, not the whole pan and my bird got a fantastically golden St. Tropez tan! Moistest and crispiest skin yet, even more so than the Zuni Cafe roast chicken- and a lot less work! Family says YAY!

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over 2 years ago WendieW

I use a Spanek Vertical Roaster which allows more even cooking.

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over 2 years ago belfman

In the summer I make beer can chicken or as my children like to say "beer butt chicken". I love this concept of roasting in the angel food pan. Just genius! I will try this and use the compound butter idea as well. I miss the "old Carmel" too...

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almost 3 years ago Maliqks Chef

I made this and added some roasted garlic to the herb butter mixture. So yummy. My cousin's boy, who never wants to eat devoured it!

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almost 3 years ago Tom Wade

Great idea. tom wade

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almost 3 years ago Passenger

I made this a while back and am looking forward to making it again once the weather cools down. But last time I made this, I set a bunch of brussels sprouts in the bottom of the pan, letting the butter and juices coat them on their way down from dripping... it was a match made in heaven! And so incredibly easy!

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over 3 years ago Cookbook Thief

Cooked this last night and it was a total crowd pleaser. Thank you monkeymom for the great recipe that I will certainly use for years to come. Thank you also to those responses to my Foodpickle question about what to do in the absence of a tube pan. Used an empty aluminium can and filled it 2/3 of the way with white wine, which made a sturdy base and hopefully the white wine added a little something extra to the roasting process.

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over 3 years ago clintonhillbilly

Made this for the second time for our family Passover seder, and it was so delcious and moist! Thanks so much for this recipe!

Monkeys

over 3 years ago monkeymom

I'm so happy to hear that! Thanks for the feedback!

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about 4 years ago CAMELOTCOOK

Thanks for the memories this receipe brings.Over 50 years ago my Mother made this using her Angel food pan and used Wild Turkey whiskey mixed with the butter. I miss my mom and her cooking

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over 4 years ago NakedBeet

I think this, over any dessert, might push me to get a tube pan! So happy for your win.

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

you are hilarious. I can't resist cake. cake and chicken...who would thought they could be unified by a tube pan. Thanks much!

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over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I've now made this twice and am totally sold on the method. Here's why. Apart from the amazing crisp skin all over the chicken, and how quickly the chicken roasts (and how evenly, and how tender and juicy the breast meat remains), there a couple of nice benefits I have not seen mentioned, and did not expect. First, I used a 9" pie plate and the juices that ran off actually collected under the bottom of the tube pan component, and did not evaporate, so I had a more pan juices than in a conventional pan, where they would evaporate. Those juices have a lovely buttery flavor too, due to the butter stuffed under the skin. Second, you don't have to remove the chicken from the tube to carve it. I used a filet knife to pull the meat gently off the carcass. That meant there was no cutting board/surface to clean up! There were some cooked pan juices on the tube pan which came off easily a silicone spatula. Then I just rinsed the pie plate and put it in the dishwasher. (I don't ever put any cooking pan in the dishwasher, so this was yet another time saver.) This is, hands down, a first ballot pick for the Food52 Hall of Fame!!

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over 4 years ago dymnyno

I'm cooking this tonight!!! Sunday night chicken . thanks for a great recipe.

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Ah, I'm so glad this has worked out so well for you! Indeed, my husband does agree that cleaning our nonstick cake pan and the tube is way easier than other methods I've tried before. The carving trick is cool too! Will have to try it. By the way, think of this as a recipe exchange as we enjoyed your sausage and lentil soup last Wed night!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

dymnyno - hope yours was good too!

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over 4 years ago Elycooks

I can't wait to try this, especially the trick with the tube pan. We have roasted chicken at least 3 times a month. I'm all for guilding the lily with the herb butter!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Let me know what combo of herbs you use!

Henrykiss

over 4 years ago arielleclementine

congratulations, monkeymom! i can't wait to try this!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Thanks arielleclementine! Congrats to you too!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Thanks to everyone for your good wishes. I love being part of this community!

Me

over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Congrats, monkeymom!! I'm so happy for you!

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over 4 years ago Allison Cay Parker

Congrats on the win!

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over 4 years ago coffeefoodwritergirl

Congrats monkeymom!! Love the tube pan idea -- I'll now have to definitely dig mine up. Do I have one? Think so...thanks for a great recipe!

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over 4 years ago TasteFood

Congratulations Monkey Mom! Great recipe!

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over 4 years ago WuNotWoo

congratulations! =D

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over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

P.S. I used lemon thyme when I made this, by the way . . . as my regular thyme bush needs a few days of rest, to grow some new leaves, as I've been using so much thyme lately, and my lemon thyme, fortunately, is in a growth spurt. The lemon thyme plus parsley worked really well. Loved the shallot under the skin, too. So easy, So delicious. This should be on everyone's menu this weekend.

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over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Yaaaaaay! I tried both and this recipe is SO much better!!! Plus, it's brilliant. I mean, really brilliant. You rock, MonkeyMom!! ;o)

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over 4 years ago djgibboni

I LOVE the tube-pan idea!

Mrs._larkin_370

over 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Yippee, monkeymom!

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over 4 years ago nannydeb

Congrats Monkeymom!

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over 4 years ago dymnyno

I think the idea of using a tube pan is brilliant! Does it decrease the cooking time since heat is being sucked up into the inside of the bird? Congratulations!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

oops..just saw this. I usually pull the legs away from the body as best I can. I think this helps the thighs cook a little faster so that the breast doesn't dry out as much.

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over 4 years ago thirschfeld

yeah monkeymom!!!!!, congratulations

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over 4 years ago Daphne

How clever to use a tube pan here.
Now you've got me thinking what other pans and utensils I hardly use that can be substituted so effectively for other roasting... A meat loaf seems to stew in the loaf pan. Maybe I'll try my grill pan set inside the frying pan approximately the same size for a meat loaf that can drain and be brown all around when finished.
P.S. I love compound butters on steak, what a great idea for chicken too! Your whole recipe is so thoughtfully constructed!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Thank you Daphne! I like the idea of the grill pan. I was wondering the same type of thing when I was cooking my meatloaf, something to drain some of the juices away..maybe a baking rack (the kind with the smaller squares)?

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over 4 years ago melissav

I've always cooked my meatloaf on a cookie cooling rack set on top of a cookie sheet. It doesn't stew in its oil and juice. Also, my favorite part of meatloaf is the carmelized sauce on top and this way you can get a carmelized top and sides!

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over 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

I think I need a tube pan :)

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Thanks LND! I always look forward to your posts.

Zester_003

over 4 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

I have another uncoventional use for the ol' tube pan. But I'm not saying what it is...yet.

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

I'm scared.

Me

over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Oh my gosh monkeymom - I'm now going through the finalists and just now seeing that this wonderful recipe and technique is your posting! Congrats!!! I love the smart and clever techniques you use including the tube pan and love herb butter on all kinds of things. I keep little rolls of different compound butter flavors in my freezer that I can pull out on a moments notice. I can't wait to try this! Congrats congrats!!

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Great idea, keeping the compound butters in the freezer! Will have to do that. Thanks for posting the tip. ;o)

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Thanks ChezSuzanne! I have thought of the herb butter as so luxurious, but keeping them in the freezer makes it so much more possible for everyday eating.

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over 4 years ago Aliwaks

Tried your recipe (sort of) this weekend and loved it. I did not plan ahead and was a bit lazy about the herb butter, I made a mint shallot butter (seemed to have a quite bit of mint in the house, wonder why) and stuffed it under the skin, dug out my tube pan ( I think we have the same one) and plonked my little chicken atop it. I really loved how it came out, thank you! when I am feeling less impulsive I will try the recipe all the way through.

I think we have the same tube pan, I've had it for years it was my grandma's and I have never baked a cake in it, just schlep it along from move to move. Now it finally has a purpose.

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

That is so cool that you tried this and found a use for the old tube pan! I'm glad it turned out for you. It is funny to plunk that chicken on that tube...roasted chickens always look like little hostages to me, no matter how we cook'em!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

My husband is seriously perplexed and amused by my supposed 'genius'. He has no idea when I have ever thought long and deep about chicken roasting. However, he did love the chicken! Thanks so much for your kind words everyone. I seriously have been admiring all of your cooking since I got hooked on this site and can't wait to keep learning more from you all!

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over 4 years ago coffeefoodwritergirl

can't wait to try this one!

Ap5

over 4 years ago ying

Oh, this is CLEVER. I'm with you on the 8hrs of seasoned rest (though I often push it to 24), and I'm going to try the tube pan tomorrow.

Henrykiss

over 4 years ago arielleclementine

congrats, monkeymom! well deserved!

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over 4 years ago NakedBeet

I love the ingenuity in this recipe and your striving for the perfectly crispy skin! And I might just start adding herb butter to everything.

Mrs._larkin_370

over 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Voted for tube pan chicken! Although both recipes are great, I know my whole family will eat this one! Must send hubby on a mission to the basement to find my tube pan...

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over 4 years ago cheese1227

I love the recipe note and will attempt the method this week. Thanks for sharing.

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over 4 years ago happyrenomom

Wow! This recipe is wonderful! It's so hard for me to be creative in the kitchen -thanks for the inspiration and for sharing such a yummy dish!

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over 4 years ago QueenOfGreen

Wow. Genius!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Thank you...I think that my limited kitchen storage space somehow resulted in me using whatever I had to cook with. I've never owned a roasting pan.

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over 4 years ago Allison Cay Parker

I love the technique--genius. I had never heard of the beer can technique, but I like this better: as an avid cake baker, I have tube pans; for drinking, I prefer wine to beer (but wouldn't want to stick a chicken on a wine bottle!). And my son is just as obsessed with the wishbone as your daughter--and as I was when I was little. Wishbones are great. Nice recipe and good luck in the contest.

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Thank you! I noticed your antioxidant salad looks very much like a great contestant (with a mint addition) to this weeks theme. beautiful!

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over 4 years ago thirschfeld

way to go monkeymom

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Thanks thirschfeld! I love your recipes and look forward to seeing them each week. I learn something new with each one.

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over 4 years ago texaswormgirl

Yo monkeymom,

Are you some kind of genius or something?

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Thank you texaswormgirl.

Zester_003

over 4 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

I like the story. I like the recipe. I hate Carmel but I love Monterey.

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Thanks pierino...I love your tripe (and the Monterey Fish House is now our new dining destination when we go down there. Yummy calamari!).

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over 4 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

This is a great technique and I love the simplicity. I also leave my birds in the fridge during the day - most often setting them up while my daughter eats breakfast and then racing out the door until I come back later that evening to cook. It works so well and love to see that you do it too, and with such great flavors!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Thanks Kelsey!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Holy smokes! This is thrilling. I can't wait to tell my daughter, she will be so excited. Thanks for all the good wishes too!

Kay_at_lake

over 4 years ago Kayb

That is absolutely the most ingenious thing I've ever heard. I have a chicken in my freezer I'm going to roast like this next week. Thanks!

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over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Love the recipe, love the story about the wishbone (as I remember so, so well as a kid also playing the wishbone game)!! Congrats, MonkeyMom. You truly deserve this honor!!!

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over 4 years ago nannydeb

You have just changed my life! We usually cook the chicken on a beer can (Pollo Boracho) inside a roasting pan. The can is always fallling over with the chicken. I can't wait to try it on my tube pan. Thanks!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

I really hate my tube pan for baking cakes, it always leaks! Roasting chicken is its one redeeming quality. I hope you are gonna post your recipe. Sounds cool!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

p.s. make sure you next your tube insert into a 9 inch cake pan, not the tube pan or else the grease will drip all over your oven!

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over 2 years ago trefoil

And I found the lower part of the chicken did not brown if you put it in the whole tube pan not just the insert.

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I was worried -- for precisely the reason you state -- when I saw the photo posted by FOOD52 here and in the cookbook, that people would think that the entire pan, and not just the tube on its base, should be used when roasting the chicken. Thanks for pointing this out. ;o)

Mrs._larkin_370

over 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Cool trick with the tube pan! We love the wishbone game too!