Trussing a Chicken

For a roasted chicken to hold its shape it needs to be trussed (tied) before cooking. A smaller chicken may only require that the legs are tied together but a larger bird will require that it be tied around the legs and around the wings to hold its shape. Before trussing, the wishbone can be cut out to make it easier to carve the breast portion of the chicken but it is not necessary that it be removed. The chicken should be cleaned and if stuffing is desired, it should be inserted before the bird is trussed.

There are different methods of trussing but all are basically trying to achieve the same results. Instructions for a basic method of trussing are shown here:


Tuck the wings underneath the chicken to secure them.


For trussing, use a string that is approximately 4 to 5 times the length of the chicken. With the bird on its back (tail away from you), place the middle of the string under the tail, bring both sides up and cross over the top of the tail. Wrap each the strings around the end of each drumstick and pull to draw the legs together, crossing strings over each other again.


Flip the bird over so the backside is up, with neck away from you. Pull strings up over the thighs and wrapping around the upper wings, catching the tips of the wings in the loop. The string is wrapped around the wing, close to the body and then both ends are brought to the upper side. If there is a flap of skin at the neck, it is folded up and the two strings are tied over it.

A chicken does not have to be trussed before it is roasted. When a chicken is trussed you may encounter a problem with the white and dark meat obtaining the proper doneness. It takes longer for the dark meat in the inner thigh area to reach its proper doneness when it is trussed, which should be 175°F to 180°F. When the dark meat is cooked until it reaches the appropriate temperature, the white meat will many times be too dry. If it is important that the bird keeps its shape while roasting, it is best to truss it. If it isn't important that it to keeps its shape, it is generally better not to truss the chicken, because the white and dark meat will cook more evenly.


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