Trussing a chicken is an easy thing to do and it vastly improves the texture of your roast. Why? Because the more you can draw any large piece of meat — not just a chicken — into a compact, ball-like shape, the more evenly it will cook. Extremities like legs drastically overcook when they simply stick out there in the oven’s heat. A little twine around the meat prevents all this.
Even just twenty years ago trussing meant more fuss. Cooks used needles to almost surgically draw the cavity shut, so as to enclose the stuffing and prevent basting juices from making it soggy. Now that basting has been largely discredited as a way to achieve a juicy roast, there’s no need to be so fussy. Stuffings themselves have gone largely out of style due to food safety concerns.
But regardless of how you feel about stuffings, it’s never a good idea to let a chicken cavity go to waste. You can at the very least fill it full of items that will enhance the chicken’s flavor. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Begin by rinsing your chicken inside and out, then pat it dry, inside and out. Why take so much time with the drying? Because a wet bird won’t brown as well. Evaporation cools, remember. A coating of oil or butter, on the other hand, will help heat penetrate your bird faster.
Now then, cut a piece of butcher’s twine, about four feet long. Lay the chicken on top of it. You want the twine to run about even with the chicken’s wings.
Now stuff the cavity. I use half an onion, half a lemon, a few cloves of garlic and some herbs. Whatever fits.
To truss, tuck the wings back under the chicken.
Bring the string around under the breast and make half of a square knot.
Pull it tight under the breast bone. Notice how the breast plumps up.
Complete the knot.
Now loop the string around one of the legs and draw it up.
Do the same with the other leg…
…and tie a tight knot. Done! Normally this is the point where you rub on some salt and oil (or just oil if you’ve brined your bird). However for chicken in a salt crust you don’t want to do either. More on that a bit later.