It has happened to me three times now. I prepare and roast my chicken, it looks great, and then I put it on the table and hear the comments:
“You baked it upside down.”
“It has its butt in the air.”
“The breasts are round and go up, ass goes down.”
Now mind you the chicken tasted fine, it was golden brown, and the breast meat was nice and moist, but my having baked it upside down accidentally on three occasions still led to laughter. That got me to thinking….who made the rule that the breasts must go up?
I did some research online and while tradition says to roast a chicken breast side up, what I found more often was that chefs recommend roasting breast side down for at least half the time to prevent drying out the breast meat.
Most of the fat is in the chicken’s back. When you place the bird in a pan breast side up all the fatty juices run out of the back and into the pan, and the dryer white meat – the breast – gets even more dry during the roasting process.
If you roast the chicken breast side down, the fatty juices run out of the back meat and down into the breast, keeping it nice and moist. Then flip the bird over to brown the skin on the breast before serving. The time for flipping varied in the articles I read from only 15 minutes prior to serving, 1/2 way through the roasting time, and two-thirds of the way through the roasting time. The point is, flip the bird over, baste to encourage browning, and serve breast side up.
It was also noted that flipping might be easier if you truss your bird before roasting to prevent the legs and wings from flopping around during the process. I have never trussed a chicken and will likely try the flipping without being trussed first.
My research did not provide an official answer my initial question of “Who said breasts need to go up?” but it did satisfy me to learn that my upside down chicken is actually the recommended roasting position for moist meat.
Now what do you do? Easy, if you are roasting a chicken in the breast-down position and forget to flip it for a nice browned presentation with the breasts up, go ahead and serve it upside down. If anyone comments simply tell them it contains a hidden message, as in kiss my ***. Message by bird….and we thought it was just dinner!