When your range oven is busy with other things, or when you just don't want to heat up your kitchen, a countertop roaster oven can be a convenient alternative. The oblong cookers can accommodate a turkey, a large roast or a large quantity of smaller foods such as chicken pieces. Roasters don't work exactly like a conventional oven, so if you're preparing a meal of baked chicken pieces, there are a few differences in technique.
Place the roasting pan, or cooking well, into your countertop roaster. Put your rack on the bottom, and cover the roaster with its lid. Plug in your roaster unit and preheat it to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pat your chicken pieces dry with a clean paper towel and trim away any excess fat or skin. Season the chicken with salt and pepper or other herbs and spices as desired. Alternatively, brush the chicken pieces with barbecue sauce, honey or some other glaze.
Open the preheated roaster and place the chicken pieces evenly on the rack. Allow space between them, if possible, for the hot air to circulate. Replace the lid.
Reduce the roaster's temperature to 350 F, and cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 F when tested with an instant-read thermometer.
Remove the chicken pieces to a serving platter with a pair of tongs or a serving fork. Tongs are better, because a fork will pierce the chicken pieces and allow their juices to escape. Let the chicken pieces rest, loosely covered with aluminum foil, for five to 10 minutes before serving.
- Boneless chicken breasts require 20 to 30 minutes, depending on their size. Bone-in chicken pieces require roughly 10 minutes longer, or an average of seven to 10 minutes per pound.
- Preheating the roaster is optional, but shortens your cooking time substantially and helps keep the chicken moist and juicy. Don't open the roaster oven to check the chicken until late in the roasting time, because the loss of heat will slow your cooking.
- Be careful to avoid the hot sides of the roaster when you're putting in the chicken pieces or taking them out. They can cause painful burns.
- When you open the roaster's lid, a billow of very hot steam will escape. Stand aside from the roaster when you open it, keeping your hand, arm and face away from the steam to avoid burns.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.