ORIGINALLY POSTED 21.09.20 RECIPE UPDATED 17.09.21.
To many Munich locals the focus of the world famous Oktoberfest isn’t the beer at all, but rather the huge number of rides, rollercoasters, ghost trains, and other funfair attractions that line the festival’s many avenues. Certainly of equal importance to the beer is the food, and most beloved of all is the the recipe I’m sharing with you today: the famous ‘Halbes Hendl’ or Oktoberfest Roast Chicken.
What’s so special about an Oktoberfest Roast chicken?
This is good old fashioned Bavarian fare. A Wiesn-Hendl or Oktoberfest chicken is half of a rotisserie chicken, basted in a paprika marinade, and often served up completely unadorned. That’s right, just half a chook on a plate. It’s up to you to catch the attention of one the guys or gals selling a giant pretzel to go along with it. However, you can trust me when I say that after your second litre of beer, that chicken is the most delicious thing you’ve eaten in your life.
The chickens at the Oktoberfest are slowly cooked in a rotisserie grill, which is what gives them their succulent and juicy texture. I know that most of my readers don’t have a handy rotisserie hanging around, so after a lot of experimenting at home, I have discovered the perfect technique for juicy, flavoursome chicken, just as good as what you get at the Wiesn.
Alright! What’s the secret to this delicious chicken already?!
The secret is slowly roasting the chicken at a low temperature to ensure the meat is tender and succulent. You’ll often find recipes online for blasting a chicken with a very high heat so it cooks quickly. I’ve found this has a tendency to toughen up the tendons making the chicken hard to get off the bone. To recreate the fall off the bone texture of rotisserie chicken in your home oven, low and slow is the only way to go.
How low are we talking? What temperature do you cook the chicken at?
For perfect, fall off the bone chicken I first cut the chicken in half, baste with a flavoursome paprika marinade, then cook at just 150°C / 300°F / Gas 2 for 2 hours, basting occasionally as I go. This is such a relaxed way to cook and makes for great tasting, tender, juicy chicken every time. Cutting the chicken in half before you cook saves all the trouble of trying to chop up hot chickens at the table. Roast, then onto the plate. Win-Win my friends, a relaxed cook is a happy cook.
What should I serve with my Oktoberfest Roast Chicken?
I like to serve my chicken with a classic Bavarian Potato Salad, though if you fancy you can try your hand at baking some Homemade Soft Pretzels (yum!) For afters you could make up some sweet caramelised Kaiserschmarrn pancake or a plum Zwetschgendatschi. And of course, you’ll need plenty of beer to wash it all down with! You can click here to see even more Bavarian recipes.
Do Bavarians seriously eat half a chicken? Where do they fit it all in?
They do, however this brings me to an important point. German and European chickens are usually much smaller than the enormous birds that can be found overseas. A standard chicken size is 1.2kg or size 12. This will feed two hungry people perfectly. If you can’t get smaller chickens it may be worth asking your local butcher or supermarket if they can get them in stock. Alternatively, serve up a quarter of a chicken to each guest instead.
Unfortunately, this year the official Oktoberfest has been cancelled again due to the pandemic, but they have promised it will be back in 2022 – so keep your fingers crossed and get those tickets booked!
Have you ever been to the Oktoberfest? Share your favourite memory down below! Happy cooking, and Ein Prosit der Gemutlichkeit!
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
- 1.2 kg chicken
- 3 Tbsp neutral oil
- 1 Tbsp sweet paprika powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt or celery salt
- pinch of chilli flakes
- black pepper
- lemon wedges
- potato salad, french fries or coleslaw
- Heat the oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas 2. (Do not use fan bake or convection oven setting, it will dry out the meat). Line an oven tray with baking paper and place a roasting rack on top.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towel, then place on a cutting board breast-side down. Use a small, sharp knife to cut through the skin on either side of the back bone, then use poultry or kitchen shears or a large, heavy knife to cut through the bone. Discard the backbone.
- Turn the chicken over and cut through the breast bone - I cut any remaining breast bone away from the chicken and discard - this makes it much easier to eat. If you like, trim off the wing tips.
- Stir together the oil, paprika, garlic powder, salt, chilli flakes and a few grinds of black pepper. Lay the chicken halves on the rack, then rub the spice mixture generously and thoroughly over the chicken, front and back. Don't forget under the drumsticks and wings.
- Roast the chicken in the oven for 2 hours until dark golden brown. After the first hour, baste the chicken occasionally with the oil that has dripped from the chicken. I find that the skin is lovely and crispy, however for extra crispy skin either turn the oven right up for an extra 5 minutes of cooking time or turn the grill/broiler on until the skin is crisped to your liking.
- Allow the chicken to rest on a warm plate for 5-10 minutes before serving with potato salad, french fries or coleslaw and a slice of lemon.
- Only use a fan-bake or convection oven for this dish if you are cooking multiple trays at the same time, otherwise it will just dry out the chicken. If you must, pour a little water in the base of the trays to help keep the chicken moist.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: ½ a chicken
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1305Total Fat: 87gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 60gCholesterol: 470mgSodium: 2136mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 121g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I can’t get a small chicken! Can I still make this recipe?
Yes, you can, though you may want to cut the chicken into quarters rather than halves as this size chicken serves two people perfectly. Check that the internal temperature of your chicken is at least 165°F / 75°C in the thickest part. I like to use a meat thermometer like this one.
I’m scared of cutting the chicken in half! Any tips?
It’s much easier than you think, just be sure to use a good pair of kitchen or poultry shears or a very heavy knife. Just channel your inner Julia Child and go for it!
Can I double or triple the recipe?
Absolutely! Leave a little space between the chickens on the rack so they don’t steam.
Why shouldn’t I use fan bake or convection to cook my chicken?
It is not the end of the world if you use fanbake or convection, you simply need to be aware that it has a drying effect, so it can dry out the meat.
I liked the original version! Where has it gone?
Not to worry, if you are a fan of the poaching then roasting method you can still access the original recipe by clicking here.