Contemporary toaster ovens have come a long way since their first incarnations, which had a hard time toasting bread evenly and smelled like burning circuitry when they heated up. Now you can get tricked-out toaster ovens with built-in rotisseries, steamer functions and grill accessories that cook food, using heat from the broiler inside the machine. With these babies, you can sear a broiler chicken on the grill attachment to get a nice, caramelized color, then place it in a roaster pan and pop it in the oven part to finish cooking – talk about convenience!
Rinse the broiler chicken inside and out and blot it dry with paper towels. Position the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board.
Grasp the chicken by the tail remnant and cut through the back to the neck, about 1/2 inch to the left of the spine, using kitchen shears. Position the kitchen shears about 1/2 inch to the right of the spine and cut through the back to the neck a second time. Grasp the spine and lift it from the bird. It should pull away easily at the neck.
Spread the chicken open with your hands enough to see the breasts from the inside of the body. Slice vertically through the large piece of gristle between the breasts inside the chicken using a kitchen knife. Slicing through this piece of gristle gives you access to the keel bone, which you must remove before broiling.
Make 1/4-inch-deep, 1/2-inch-long, horizontal slices down the center of the interior of the chicken, from neck to tail, using the kitchen knife. Don’t cut completely through the chicken, just deep enough to score it. Scoring down the center of the chicken lets you flatten it without it popping back up during cooking.
Grasp the keel bone, which resembles the keel of a boat or an elongated fin, and pull it out from the inside of the chicken. Now the chicken will lay flat and cook evenly under the broiler.
Position the flattened chicken on a cutting board and rub it generously with an oil that has a high smoking point and a bit of flavor, such as peanut or olive. Don’t use butter, which burns in a few seconds under broiler heat. Season the chicken to taste inside and out.
Position the flattop grill accessory, sometimes called a griddle, in its slot on top of the toaster oven, if not already, and set the heat to high. Coat the griddle with oil and adjust the heat to high and allow it to heat up.
Place the flattened chicken skin-side down on the toaster oven’s griddle. Sear the skin side until caramelized and golden brown. Turn the flattened chicken over using tongs and sear the other side until caramelized and golden brown.
Remove the chicken from the toaster oven’s griddle and place it skin-side up on a wire roaster rack set inside a foil-lined roaster. Turn the grill part of the toaster oven off.
Position the toaster oven’s cooking rack to the lowest position. Set the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or, depending on the model, the medium setting, and let it heat up. Place the roaster on the toaster oven’s cooking rack.
Set the toaster oven’s timer to allow for 20 minutes of cooking time per pound. For example, if you have a 2-pound roaster chicken, set the time for 40 minutes.
Check the internal temperature of a breast and thigh using a probe thermometer when the timer goes off. Both should measure at least 165 degrees F. If the chicken measures less than 165 degrees F, cook an additional 10 minutes to raise the internal temperature 5 degrees F.
Remove the roaster from the toaster oven and place it on a cooling rack when the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. Allow the chicken to rest and cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.